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Singaporeans soak up Thailand’s Songkran Festival!
One of the best things about Southeast Asia is the fact there’s always another festival just around the corner.
This time it’s the turn of the Thai people. The Songkran Festival is officially celebrated in mid-April over a long weekend but in true Thai style the celebrations usually last much longer.
Singaporeans flock to Thailand at this time of year and with promises that this year’s festival is going to be more exuberant than ever they should not be disappointed. And for those who haven’t yet booked their air tickets or travel insurance, there’s still time! And believe us when we say this is not an event that you will want to miss out buying travel insurance for. From pickpockets and soggy, ruined passports to road traffic accidents Songkran has it all. But play it safe and you can hopefully avoid any potential hazardous situations. First of all, though, let’s tell you about the good stuff.
What is Songkran all about?
This festival is part of Buddhist tradition and marks the beginning of the Thai New Year, ‘Songkran’ meaning passing or approaching.
Each of the three days of Songkran has a particular significance. On the first day Thais clean their houses to get ready to welcome the New Year.
On the second day, Thais prepare food to offer to the monks, which they take to the temples on day three. They offer these gifts at Buddhist temples as well as pouring rose-scented water over images of the Buddha and over the hands of their elders as a sign of respect.
It is also a time when families visit elderly relatives or make visits to their hometowns.
The wetter the better!
Songkran is essentially a Thai festival but, in friendly Thai tradition, locals welcome tourists getting involved.
The festival is perhaps best known for the amount of water being thrown about the streets and this can happen on any day of the festival.
Be prepared to get very wet – without a doubt you will get soaked from a passing bucket or water pistol!
As you may expect celebrations in the Thai capital are big and just about everywhere you’ll come across festivities and water throwing. The official opening ceremony is at Wat Pho, one of Thailand's most important temples, which houses the spectacular gold-plated reclining Buddha.
The backpacker area of Khao San Road is even more raucous at this time, street stalls sell everything you could imagine and there’s water throwing and partying well into the small hours.
Expect a police presence looking for weapons, oversized water pistols and clay powder which is sometimes smeared on faces. Your own alcohol may also be confiscated.
Silom Road in Bangkok is also a massive area of celebrations and again entry may be controlled by police. It’s closed to traffic from midday after which it fills up to bursting point with revellers dancing, drinking and throwing water. It’s not for the faint hearted!
Songkran is big on the popular tourist island of Phuket. The tourist area of Patong is filled with celebrations, live performances and locals in pickup trucks throwing water at passers by.
In Phuket Town itself the festivities focus around Saphan Hin Park and expect celebrations well into the night.
Songkran is massive in Chiang Mai and the Northern Thai city spreads out the celebrations to around eight days!
Thousands of locals and tourists take to the streets kicking off with a street procession. From then on there’s cultural performances, street celebrations, water throwing and more water throwing.
Other Songkran Festivals
The festival is also celebrated in Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and parts of northeast India and a small part of China.
Protect your phones from all the wet in a waterproof cover.
Like all big street parties, petty crime and pickpocketing can be an issue so don’t take out valuables.
Transport is also more tricky and chaotic at this time.
Just a word of warning. Thailand roads were ranked the world’s most deadliest during the Water Festival. Drunk driving is the top cause of deaths. Followed by cars that carry too much weight in the load area for instance, water for splashing, ice, and people standing behind trucks. These can cause drivers to lose control of the car. Not to mention large crowds of people spilling out onto the roads and causing even more chaos for motorists.
Banks, shops and some tourist attractions will close during this time.
If crowds, getting wet and general chaos aren’t your thing then you might want to avoid the Thai streets at this time. Some tourist reviews do report the water throwing, particularly by other tourists, as getting out of hand and tedious after a while.
On the other hand, many tourists say this is one of the best street parties in the world!
But do remember, this is not a trip where you want to scrimp on your travel insurance. Comprehensive travel insurance with Budget Direct Insurance is your best bet for complete peace of mind.
More useful tips
Singaporeans travelling to Thailand are advised to eRegister with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at http://eregister.mfa.gov.sg/. This will enable the Ministry and our Embassy in Bangkok to contact Singaporeans in case of emergencies.
Should Singaporeans require assistance, they can contact the Singapore Embassy in Bangkok or the MFA Duty Office at:
Singapore Embassy in Bangkok
129 South Sathorn Road, Bangkok 10120.
001-66-(2) 348-6700 (during office hours)
001-66-(81) 844-3580 (after office hours)
Wherever you go, whatever you do, it’s vital to have good Travel cover.
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