Songkran in Chiang Mai: A Mix of Traditional and Modern Festival

Every 13th April till 15th April, Thailand will celebrate their traditional new year based on the Buddhist calendar which is also known as Songkran Festival or the Water Splashing Festival.    

What is Songkran  

Traditionally, Songkran is celebrated by Thais by showing respect to the monks and elders by sprinkled water over their hands. But over the year, the festival has evolved into a water war with people’s blasting water that turns into a massive water fight across the nation.    

Songkran: Chiang Mai or Bangkok  

Experiencing Songkran in both cities, all I can summarize is they have their own different vibes during Songkran. Bangkok tends to be more of a big party atmosphere while Chiang Mai is more friendly and laid-back water playing.    

In both cities, there is a bunch of different spots where people play water intensely with each location having their own different vibes.    

Chiang Mai    

Chiang Mai is one of the most popular cities in Thailand and has the longest celebration of the Songkran Festival. The Songkran celebration in Chiang Mai usually lasts for about 3—5 days.  

Best areas:  

Thapae Gate is one of the places you must visit during Songkran since the party is everywhere. Most people will gather around the moats, canals and the Ping River. The water fighting will start along Thapae Gate in 4km radius.  

Bangkok  

Bangkok is the capital city of Thailand and hence, it has more places to party than anywhere else in the country. During Songkran, most locals will back to their hometown and will be replaced with foreigners and tourists who come to celebrate this colourful festival.    

Best areas:  

There are two compulsory places you should visit while in Bangkok for Songkran Festival. The first one is Khao San Road where thousands of foreigners join together in the crazy water fighting you will ever see. The other famous spot is Silom Road, where they close the entire road to traffic just for the Songkran Festival.  

 Our Story: Songkran in Chiang Mai    

Having 3 hours of flight time to Chiang Mai from Kuala Lumpur, we as one big group gave Songkran a shot.    

Organizing a group of 8 peoples to celebrate Songkran in Chiang Mai is not that hard. There are plenty of houses you can rent during Songkran at a very reasonable price. We book our house with 5 spacious rooms with an outdoor swimming pool with only $USD180 per night via Airbnb. Getting around Chiang Mai is easy since Grab cars and taxis are available all around the city even during Songkran celebration.    

Our Songkran festival starts with seeing their religious ceremony held at Charoen Muang road near the Narawat bridge where they carry Buddha statues through the streets with crowds lining the street and wishing good luck for the new year by splashing us with water.    

After watching the ceremony, it is now time to celebrate Songkran with water guns. We head to Thapae Gate since the biggest water fights will be at this spot.    

Thapae Gate is a primary entrance into the Old City of Chiang Mai. This water fights will comprise both foreigners and locals. All kind of people will get excited and join in this madness big scale water fight. This area have several big stages being set up with a variety of competitions and performances.    

Near the Thapae Gate, there is a lengthy road stretch along the moat. There are lots of fun we could find here with tons of laughter and major water fights. Most of the times, the water being splashed is been fetched from the moat which might not be clean. Hence, we take extra precautions to prevent water from getting into our mouth, eyes and ears.    

Occasionally, we take a break and buy some street foods to refill our energy since the area fills with sellers who sell various foods and goods.    

Whenever we pass by house’s entrance, there will always people who will stand there with tubs of cold waters and hoses waiting victims to walk past them. Exploring the smaller streets would mean in plenty of interactions with the locals with numerous friendly soakings.    

Later in the evening after getting all wet, we ended our Songkran by taking tuk – tuk to our house. Little that we know, although in our tuk – tuk, we even get more water splash because we are an easy target especially when the vehicle is not moving due to traffic.    

As the sun sets, we are ready to close our Songkran Festival by experiencing the nightlife in Chiang Mai. When we go out, we could see no water splashing activity could be found approximately after 6 pm. We then go to the local bars and have a great time and party. We have a lot of fun, drink, chat and dance which marks the closure of our happiest day celebrating Songkran Festival in Chiang Mai.   

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