Asia is a continent filled with new starts and celebrations. With the Gregorian New Year and the Chinese/Vietnamese Lunar New Year book-ending January, ‘Water Festival’ celebrations in Southeast Asia throughout April and Diwali in November, there’s constant revelry year-round.
Perhaps the most fun of all New Year celebrations of all in Southeast Asia are the ‘Water Festivals’ enjoyed in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar around the 12-15 April. Though the origins of the festival were sedate and respectful, the festivities have more recently mutated into the world’s biggest water fight.
For the majority of Buddhists, the ‘Water Festival’ represents a time to pray, to present alms at temples and pay respects to Buddha and family elders by gently pouring fragranced water over them to cleanse and wash away impurity.
Perhaps due to the hot weather – or maybe just because of the fun-loving nature of people throughout Southeast Asia – the annual three-day celebrations attract throngs of travelers and locals alike hoping to get a piece of the action and cool down in the process.
In Thailand especially, the scale of the annual Songkran event has increased year after year, especially in the two biggest cities Bangkok and Chiang Mai, and is also the longest holiday of the year for most.
It truly is a magical time to be in Southeast Asia, with neighbors Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia all celebrating their versions of the festival but with a different name: Pii Mai, Thingyan and Chaul Chnam Thmey respectively.
To enjoy the festival appropriately, we’d suggest you take the proper precautions – such as waterproofing everything you own! In all seriousness, if you do plan on being in Thailand especially between 13-15 April you should beware there is a strong chance you will get ‘blessed’ (by being soaked), regardless of if you want to or not!
So be sure to plan your visit around the festivals – our expert Travel Specialists in each country can share their local advice on where to go, what to do and how you can join in.