The Songkran Festival (pronounced sǒŋ.krāːn) is the traditional Thai New Year celebration. The name itself comes from the Sanskrit word Samkranti meaning “astrological passage”.
The Thai New Year is synonymous with transformation and change. The celebration respects the Buddhist and Hindu calendar and coincides with the rising of Aries on the astrological chart.
This year the Songkran Festival will be celebrated from Saturday April 13 to Monday April 15.
The hottest time of the year is punctuated with Thailand’s biggest water fight while revellers say “Sa-Wad-Dee-Pee-Mai” to wish each other a happy new year.
The festival originated in a water purification ceremony that can be seen throughout Asia. Japanese shrines often provide dragon headed fountains for visitors to clean their hands and spirits before entering while merchants in Laos sprinkle water on the steps of their shops using bamboo ladles; the fun loving Thais have gradually turned this ritual into a giant water fight.
Traditionally, the exact dates of Songkran Festival fluctuate according to the Thai calendar, dictated by an ever-changing lunar cycle. Thankfully, the Thai government declared Songkran a national holiday in 1940 with fixed dates of April 13 to the 15. This year, Thai government additionally granted April 16 as one more day off for everyone to rest after the celebration.
Depending on where you are, Songkran festivities can last anywhere from three days to an entire week. Each day of Songkran has a particular significance: ‘Elderly Day’ is on the April 13, ‘Family Day’ is on April 14 and ‘Relaxation Day’ is on April 15 – though this final, restful day is usually anything but. If you ask the locals what the final day of Songkran is really for, they’ll likely respond with a smiling “mai pen rai” – Thai for don’t worry about it.
Different areas of Thailand have different traditions for the celebration. Koh Samui is located in the south where three major rules have to be respected during the duration of Songkran:
In order to respect the first rule, people will usually start preparing for Songkran days in advance in order to be free from work during the three day celebration. The second rule is harder to respect as elephants play a big part, as they roam around the street spitting water at everyone. Not telling lies is never a bad idea.
Dress in a floral shirt with swimwear underneath; then run to the nearby convenience store and buy the biggest water gun in the shop, load it with a full tank!
Eyewear such as sunglasses and goggles are suggested to avoid the risk of water borne infections if you wear contact lenses or have had eye surgery recently. Try not to shoot water into anyone's eyes!
Leave all your personal belongings in a safe place.
Waterproof bags can be purchased easily around the island and are a good investment.
All IVL Property exclusive villas have safes so, it is best to leave your passport, air tickets and other valuables in the villa. Now, be prepared to get wet! It doesn't matter where you are from or who you are, only babies, the elderly and monks are off limits.
Millions of guests come to Koh Samui every year and they all agree that Chaweng is the place to get a party and have a great time! For all of you party maniacs, Solo bar is the main meeting point on the Chaweng beach road, but celebrations are held everywhere. The main areas are the Chaweng and Lamai beach roads, which both make different places convenient to visit on foot.
This year the main tourists areas in Chaweng will be blocked to vehicular traffic to allow locals and tourists to have fun in a safe way so, please plan accordingly.
Though tourists often rent a bike or car to get around the island, during Songkran, you may not want to drive as the sudden shock of being hit by water may cause you to crash. At the same time, please refrain from soaking people riding motorbikes.
Villas guests are encouraged to contact IVL to arrange for a driver to drop you off somewhere to join in the fun. Many neighbourhood shops will host small BBQs and parties and you can be sure to find parties at nearly every bar and restaurant with nightclubs playing music from the afternoon.
A special pool party will take place at High Park Samui on Saturday 14th and a big party is scheduled at The Beach bar in Chaweng Noi on the evening of Sunday, April 15.
Last but not least, even though your body may feel cool from the water, remember to drink water to avoid dehydration and cover your skin with sunscreen and wear a hat.
All government offices will be closed during Songkran and bank offices are closed though ATMs will be open.
The IVL Property offices will be closed from April 13 to 15 Sa-Wad-Dee-Pee-Mai!!!
If you want more information on the Songkran festival and the best places to be a part of the festivities do not hesitate to contact our concierge department at firstname.lastname@example.org