Tag Archives: Road Trips

Songkran Parade 2008

The 13th April marks the start of the celebrations for the Songkran Festival, which is the traditional Thai New Year. In many cities around Thailand there is a parade. On one of the floats are the seven daughters of a mythical God who had his head cut off when he lost a wager. Every year, his severed head is paraded through the city streets for everyone to see.

Each year, the seven sisters take turns to lead the parade. Each sister is assigned a different day. As Songkran falls on a Sunday this year, the parade is lead by Tungsatevee. Her mode of transport is Garuda, a supernatural eagle-like being that serves as Vishnu’s mount. In Tungsatevee’s right hand she holds a discuss and in her left hand a conch.

Hundreds of local people lined each side of the street and cheered as the parade passed by. There were also Buddha images in the parade and people threw water to bathe the image as a mark of respect. Today people will also go to the temple to wash the feet of monks. They will also visit their elders to pay respect by pouring rose scented water over their hands. In return they will receive a blessing. Another tradition is to go to the temple to take part in a ceremony to make merit for dead ancestors. People also take sand to the temple which might have inadvertently been removed during past visits during their year by sticking to the bottom of their shoes. They then take part in competitions at the temple to build sand pagodas.

Of course, the main feature of Songkran which is recognized by tourists is the big water fight. April is the hottest month of the year in Thailand and so playing with water is a great way to cool down and have some fun at the same time.

Visit our Songkran Blogs for more pictures and reports. Also Check out the archives at our sister blogs at ThaiPhotoBlogs.com for more pictures.

Tips for Enjoying Songkran

This week sees the celebration for the start of the traditional Thai new year. From the 13th-15th April, Thai people will be dressing up in new clothes and visiting the local temple to make merit and to their grandparents in order to receive blessings. Afterwards, the youngsters will be out on the street taking part in the world’s biggest water fight.

* If you go out during Songkran, then you are fair game. Don’t complain if you are squirted in the face with a water pistol or someone rubs white powder on your face. Although it might not seem like it, they are actually taking part in a centuries old tradition of paying respect to their elders. Let them do it and smile. Resistance is useless.

* If you are a woman, try not to dress provocatively – particularly spaghetti strap tops or white t-shirts that become revealing when wet. Thai people are traditionally conservative, but some young men will take advantage of Songkran to grope you. Many of them have been partying all night and are drunk.

* Keep your cool at all times. Everyone is just having fun. Be prepared for the buckets of water which have been pre-chilled with ice. Also beware that people might come up to you from behind to smear white powder on your face. If they are polite they will ask first. But, you won’t see that happen often. Try not to move too much when they are doing it as you might end up with the paste in your eyes. However, that is inevitable the longer you stay out.

* Don’t wear your best clothes. If you take your camera then make sure you also have a plastic bag. Better still, buy a camera that is waterproof. Last year, many people ended up with soggy mobile phones that stopped working. The mobile phone vendors do good business during Songkran repairing them.

* By law you have to carry your passport at all times. However, during Songkran you are running the risk of your important documents getting wet. Make photocopies of your passport to take out with you and leave all important documents in the hotel safe.

* If you don’t want to take part in the water fights then you will need to stock up for at least 3-4 days. Some expats go out to buy enough DVD movies and food to last them the holidays. If you do venture out, the chances are high that you will get soaked by one of the mobile water units on the back of a pick-up truck.

* The shopping malls and movie theatres are all open during Songkran. So, you can use these places as a safe haven. However, getting to them safely might be a problem. If you have to use public transport, make sure you use an air-conditioned bus or meter taxi. If you use a normal bus with the windows down or a tuk tuk then you will get soaked.

* If you are going out in your car, try to stick to the main roads. There is no point in washing your car before or during Songkran. Wherever you go your car will get plastered with white paste. Make sure that you have topped up your windscreen wipers with plenty of water. You will use them often. Whatever, you do, don’t forget to LOCK all car doors. If you stop at traffic lights or in a traffic jam, they will try to open your doors.

* Songkran is not just about water fights. Do make an effort to see the more traditional side. Early in the morning Thai people will be going to the temples to make merit. They will also bathe the monks and Buddha images with rose scented water. In the afternoon, they will build sand pagodas in the temple grounds.

If you are in Thailand, then I hope you go out and have some fun! The temperature is above 35 degrees Celsius and this is a good way to cool down. However, if you are not in Thailand, then try visiting your local Thai temple. Many of them will be holding Songkran activities. Hopefully some of our bloggers abroad will be writing about that.

Songkran on the Internet: Read more about Songkran in our archives by clicking here >>>

Happy New Year!

(This blog was originally published at thai-blogs.com in 2005)

Water Fights at Songkran

Water fights

The water fights are continuing in Thailand for the second day in a row. At least three more days to go of this mayhem on the streets. Then, next weekend, the Mon people in Thailand celebrate their own Songkran so everything starts again. In Samut Prakan, our Mon community is mainly in Phra Pradaeng. I went there a couple years back to take pictures of their celebrations. Today I want to share with you these two pictures. A girl out riding on her bicycle is stopped by the guy wearing the red shirt. You can see by her hair that this is the first time today for her. She smiles because she knows resistance is futile. Seconds later she is drenched. Personally I think she got off lightly. It could have been a lot worse. This same scene is being repeated all over the country at the moment. Traditionally you are supposed to sprinkle water on your elders as a mark of respect. But things are getting out of hand these days with the water fights being the main feature. However, you still do get some people coming up to you to ask permission first before pouring water on you or putting some white powder on your face. I had one guy come up to me, who was clearly drunk despite the early hour, who then poured some icy cold water down my neck and then shouted, “Welcome to Thailand!” Thanks. Happy Songkran to you too! If you cannot beat them then join them. The alternative is to sulk and hide out in your apartment for the next five days.

Water fights

I have already written a lot about Songkran in Thailand. Follow these links for some of my past blogs:

A lot more about Songkran can be found at our sister blogs at www.ThailandLife.com .

Happy Songkran from Thailand


Happy Songkran from Samut Prakan in Thailand! I hope everyone has a happy new year. Today is the start of the traditional Thai new year in Thailand. The pictures in this blog I took a few hours ago of a parade through Paknam city center. The picture above shows two of the seven daughters of the god Kabil Maha Phrom who lost his head during a wager. Each year, one of the daughters rides a different animal during the Songkran Parade carying his head. The animal is decided upon by court astrologers. This year it looks like it was a wild boar. You can visit our sister blogs at thailandlife.com for more background information about this legend.


There must have been about a thousand people taking part in this parade. All dressed up and singing and dancing. Everyone was having fun.Plenty of people standing either side of the road throwing water at each other as well.


The water fights have already started. I was safe for most of the time during this parade as I was taking pictures. But, towards the end people started to come up to me to ask permission to either pour water down my neck or put some white powder on my face. In situations like this it is best not to resist and just smile. After all, by sprinkling their elders with water they are making merit and it would be wrong of us to refuse.


I have come back to get  a change of clothes before heading out again this afternoon to take more pictures for thai-blogs.com. There are two locations in Samut Prakan area that I will visit. These are Taiban where most of the waterfights take place and the Ancient City which will have more traditional activities. I will be bringing you more reports and photos over the Songkran holiday.

Sand Stupas on the Beach


In Thailand, like other countries in the region at this time of year, people are building sand stupas at their local temple in order to make merit. The people of Bangsaen in Chonburi have taken this to the next step. Every year, towards the end of Songkran, local residents take part in a chedi building competition on the local beach. The results are quite stunning and it is often hard to believe that they are really only made of sand. The contestants started building their sand chedis yesterday and many of them worked into the night in order to have them finished.

We drove down to Bangsaen this morning to look at the results. Chonburi is only an hour away and the beach about 14 kms further. I thought all of the water throwing had finished by now so I stupidly had my car cleaned at the local petrol station before we left. The car was covered in white powder which had dried hard. I suppose it was all wishful thinking because I didn’t want to get wet taking pictures of works of art. When we got down to the beachfront we were confronted with a traffic jam of pickup trucks and thousands of people throwing water. Of course there was no way we were going to park there so we had to drive further up the beach to a quieter spot and then we walked back along the beach. We were lucky not to get covered in wet paste but the car wasn’t so lucky.


Bangsaen is a nice place to spend the day even if you don’t want to swim. At noon we drove to the northern end of the beach which was practically deserted. We sat down on beach chairs and ordered some lunch. We had tom yum kung and som tam with grilled chicken. The afternoon breeze made us feel sleepy and very relaxed. Before we left Bangsaen we drove to the top of Khao Sam Muk to see the beautiful view and also to see the monkeys. There were too many people so we didn’t stay for long. Driving back, we stopped briefly in Ang Sila which is a famous village for making objects out of granite. This is a good place to buy a mortar and pestle. As I have one already I bought two stone girls who were holding a jasmine garland and giving a wai. I thought they would look good by my front door. At less than $10 for the pair they were also good value for money.

Don’t forget to visit thaiphotoblogs.com over the next few days for some more pictures of today’s trip.