Guidelines for organising activities during the Songkran Festival 2021
Activities that are permitted:
1. Water sprinkling ceremony including other religious activities
2. Water pouring ceremony practiced according to the guidelines set by the Ministry of Culture
3. Travelling across provinces is allowed
In all activities, please adhere to the following guidelines:
Please adhere to Covid prevention measures, such as wearing a mask, using hand sanitizer and social distancing. Activities should be arranged in an open area with good ventilation. Avoid organising activities in small or air-conditioned spaces.
Abstain from organising activities that involve a large number of people. Refrain from splashing water, concerts, and activities with close contact, such as foam parties.
Any other activities shall be at the discretion of the Provincial Communicable Disease
Committee, or the Bangkok Communicable Disease Committee.
Thailand's most celebrated festival is Songkran – the Thai new year. It starts on April 13 and lasts for between three and ten days, depending on where you’re resident (only three days in Phuket). For most, it can be fun and an excuse to cool off at what is usually the hottest time of the year. However, there’s a deeper significance to Songkran which is rooted in Thai history and beliefs. Here’s a bit of background information; perhaps it will enhance your enjoyment of the event.
The word Songkran is from the Sanskrit ‘Sangkranti’, which means ‘to move upwards’ or ‘to be about to change’. On the eve of the festival, Thais spring clean their homes, symbolically expelling any bad luck from the old year and prepare for good fortune in the new. Food and other contributions are offered to the monks at the temple early on the morning of the 13th, after which there are ceremonial prayers. Water is also poured on the ground, or on the roots of an ancient tree, symbolising a blessing to ancestors.
Thais who have moved from their home towns always try to return to their families for Songkran and all forms of transport are booked solid. For this reason you should try to avoid travelling before, during or immediately after the holiday, particularly by bus or train.
In many towns and villages, a Buddha image is carried in a procession through the streets and people sprinkle water upon it, to show their respect. In the southern provinces, village elders are invited to the temple and young people splash water on their heads, signaling their blessings for good health and long life. The elders respond by wishing the young vigour, wealth and happiness. In another delightful custom, Thais visit their elderly relatives bringing them new clothes for the coming year.In modern times, though (and pre-Covid), urban Thais had come to celebrate the holiday in a frenzy of water-throwing.
One of my fondest memories of Songkran is of an immaculately uniformed policeman (they’re normally very big on dignity) smiling good-naturedly as he emptied water from his highly polished boots. Unfortunately these high jinks can sometimes get out of hand.
Motorised gangs with high pressure water cannons, iced water and lots of enthusiasm, used to get each other (and anybody else) wet, in running battles through the streets. But speeding traffic, wet roads and alcoholic bravado make for a dangerous cocktail. Too often, Songkran is marred by tragic loss of life and injury so, inevitably, the authorities have moved in to tone things down in an effort to safeguard life and limb.
Thailand’s New Year celebration can be a wet and wild event throughout the country, but the Phuket and Chiang Mai versions are the most international, and the most boisterous, of all.
Before the pandemic changed almost every aspect of life, tourists, expats and Thais alike would arm themselves to the teeth with water guns, powder and buckets and let loose for three days of heavy dousing (and, it must be said, some heavy drinking too). Water battles took place along all the main roads throughout the island, and pick-up trucks turned into roving water-war vehicles overloaded with people who splash everyone they pass by as they cruise the soggy streets.
This year will see a very much muted celebration as the authorities, already determined to put a halt to the most excessive behaviour, are stressing that the danger of a post-Songrkan Covid wave means a sensible approach to celebrating is essential.
At the time of writing the full schedule of events had not yet been finalised, but probable activities include a merit-making ceremony at Queen Sirikit Park in Phuket City on the morning of April 13 and festivities at Saphan Hin Park on each day of Songkran from 9am to 6pm.
More sacred aspects of the festival that can be seen around the island include processions of Buddha images and ceremonies to pay homage to elders with scented lustral water.
Forget about getting anywhere on these days without getting wet, especially if you’re on a motorbike. No one’s immune, not even officials on duty. There really is no way of avoiding a soaking, unless you stay in your hotel.
Our advice is, ‘If you can’t beat them, join them.’ But don’t forget to put wallets, mobile 'phones, cigarettes, lighters etc in a watertight plastic bag.
And PLEASE heed the government guidelines (see below) for organising activities during Songkran 2021. You know it makes sense!
For more event information
Tourism Authority of Thailand Phuket office
+66 76 212213. https://www.tat.or.th/th/contact/office?office=local