Songkran in Chiang Mai is the most significant – and probably the most fun – of any of the nationwide celebrations of the Thai Buddhist New Year. Nowhere else sees as much water splashing as Chiang Mai, which makes it one of the most popular places in the whole of Southeast Asia to visit in mid-April, particularly with overseas tourists and backpackers.
The Songkran in Chiang Mai is a can’t hardly wait festival of the year for many people. When the time comes, huge numbers of people come around the city canal to have fun with the water battle day and night. The picture of colorful dressing, joyful people, and of course flying water is yearned for by many tourists worldwide to take some chance in their life to be part of this remarkable festival at Chiang Mai.
Songkran “Thai Traditional New Year”
The Songkran Holiday so-called Thai Traditional New Year in each region has its own celebration but still filled with fun and happy moments. However, Chiang Mai can be one of the largest celebration venues of the country that lures many visitors both locally and from abroad to participate for more than 10,000 pax per annum.
The Songkran holiday lasts from 13th – 15th April annually, and the whole of the road around the old part of the ancient city becomes one giant party for that time. It has a friendly atmosphere which is warm and welcoming, in contrast to the cold water which will frequently be poured over you while you are walking around the city.
Story of Songkran in Chiang Mai
Songkran is the festival that marks the beginning of the New Year in the traditional Thai calendar. It used to be held on the full moon of the eleventh month, which coincided with the beginning of the northern spring, when the sun started moving northwards. These days the date is fixed, and each year the festival is held over three days from April 13-15 (though it may begin earlier and end later, depending on the year and the region). Festivals similar to Songkran are held at about the same time in Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, and in the Yunnan region of South-West China. The name Songkran comes from the Sanskrit ‘sankranta’, meaning a move or change.
The Songkran Festival in Chiang Mai or is known in local language is “Pra Pe Nee Pee Mai Muaeng” is a northern tradition occasion for Lanna. Songkran used to be observed only in Northern Thailand, leading some to believe that it was originally brought to Thailand by the Burmese. It is now celebrated all over Thailand, although the celebration in the northern city of Chiang Mai is generally recognized as the most authentic example, and also the most intense.
Wan Sang Khan Long: on April 13rd
The festival starts from April 13rd which is called ‘Wan Sang Khan Long’ (post cruise day). Today is addressed as the New Year’s Eve, there is fire-cracker lighting in the morning from the belief that it will eliminate evil and bad luck from the previous year. And in the evening, there are big merit and a parade of a significant Buddha image around the city. During this time, the people both local and tourist are gathered to see the ceremony and also to celebrate.
Wan Nao: on April 14th
Then on April 14th called “Wan Nao” or “Rotten Day” is a day that does not allow anyone to say bad and impolite otherwise they will be unfortunate for all the year. And on April 15th called “Phya Wan” or “The Celebration of New Year Day”, the locals will go to the temple to make merit in the morning and do water pouring to pay respect for seniority in the family in the afternoon. Then on April 16th called “Wan Pak Pee”, everyone will go to do water pouring to the monk and other old people in the family to apologize and get the blessing. And finally, on April 17th last day of the festival called “Wan Pak Dueon”, the people will swipe around their body to get rid of any evil or bad luck which is a significance for Lanna.
What to do during Songkran in Chiang Mai
The Songkran Holidays in Chiang Mail features a lot of activities including religious, cultural and recreational events to participate such as the parade of the Phra Buddha Sihing, the holy Buddha image of this ancient city, Carry the sand to the temple and Bodhi Tree, offering alms for the monk and make merit at the temple, making sand sculpture, pageant contest, Lanna traditional art contest, water playing around the city moat where is a cultural street of Chiang Mai for examples.
Best Place to Check in for Songkran in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai offers plenty of opportunity to enjoy both the traditional and the modern aspects of Songkran. And here are the best venues to celebrate this festival in Chiang Mai.
Around the City Moat
The must-check in venue for Songkran in this old city. Plenty of water and quite clean enough for the people in this splash battle. The moat running around the old city. Go to any point around the city walls during the Songkran holiday and you can all but guarantee that you’ll get wet within a matter of minutes.
Tha Pae Gate
Another landmark of Songkran celebration of Chiang Mai that anyone can settle to participate most of the happening in this festival at one place both religious and entertainment. For water playing, Tha Pae Gate is one of the vibrant spot guaranteed by the crowded of abroad tourist participating here.
Hauy Kaew, Kad Suan Kaew
Peak location for teenagers with the party-like ambience features a lot of activities to have fun including water splash, music and foam party.
Jang Goo Huaeng, Wattana Payap Scool
Chiang Mai City wall has 4 corners in local called “Jang” which is the fortress in the old time. Jang Goo Huaeng is located in the southwest of the city connected to Mahidol Road heads to Chiang Mai Internaitonal Airport and Central Airport Shopping Mall. This is another interesting spot to participate the celebration of Songkran because there is plenty of water to play and vary of food to grab as well.
Chang Phuek Gate (Gate of Elephant) – Jang Si Phum
This location is a house of sacred temple of Tai ethnic where many of tourist frequently come to make worship and play the water during Songkran. Anyhow, it has been more fierce and wild playing around at this venue lately. So, for one who does not prepare for this other spot are preferred.
Presently, Songkran in Chiang Mai has changed from its original beauty of the tradition in particularly among the teenagers that think only it is a time to play water and party until forget the truly thing to practice during this traditional New Year. on the other hand, there is still a lot travelers that would like to see the genuine charming of the Songkran not just only the time to play around with the water.