23 May 2024

From water fights to cultural delights, Bangkok’s Songkran celebration has it all.

In the heart of the Thai capital, as the scorching sun transitions into the Aries constellation, Songkran—the Thai New Year festival—takes centre stage.

Sanam Luang, a city square located in Bangkok’s heritage site, becomes the epicentre of the Maha Songkran World Water Festival 2024 from April 11 to 15 and is all set to witness cultural performances, live concerts, and captivating Songkran parades, drawing both locals and tourists into the heart of Thailand’s rich cultural tapestry.

At the forefront of the festivities is the grand parade, set to take place on April 11, along Ratchadamnoen Klang Avenue. Leading the procession is the revered Buddha image, symbolizing the spiritual essence of Songkran and guiding the way for the elaborate displays to follow.

The revered Buddha image leads the Songkran procession, embodying the spiritual essence of Songkran and guiding the way for the elaborate displays ahead.//Photo: Wat Pho

The grand Songkran procession, scheduled for April 11, will grace the grand Ratchadamnoen Klang Avenue in Bangkok.//Photo: Tourism Authority of ThailandFollowing closely behind is the procession of Mahodhara Devi, the esteemed Nang Songkran goddess of 2024, presented by Anntonia Porsild, Miss Thailand Universe, and Miss Universe runner-up.

Commencing from the Phan Fa Lilat Bridge and culminating at the historic grounds of Sanam Luang, the parade promises to be a spectacle of unparalleled grandeur and cultural richness.

Among the parade highlights are the processions showcasing the distinctive Songkran traditions of 16 provinces across Thailand, such as Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen, Chon Buri, Samut Prakan, and Nakhon Si Thammarat.

From intricate rituals to colourful costumes and traditional performances, each procession offers a glimpse into the unique cultural heritage of its respective province, mesmerizing audiences with its beauty and grace.

A foreign tourist engages in traditional Thai games for a playful experience during the Songkran festival at Wat Pho temple in Bangkok.//Photo: Wat Pho

Beyond the grand parade, Sanam Luang becomes the epicentre for festivities and celebration—where cultural performances, ranging from traditional Khon dances to electronic dance music (EDM) to Muay Thai boxing performances, take turns to enthral festival-goers.

A tourist joins in the joyous dance alongside locals to celebrate Thai New Year at Wat Pho.//Photo: Wat Pho

The Maha Songkran World Water Festival 2024 celebration also extends beyond Sanam Luang. The Thai traditional New Year celebration is set to take place along the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok.

These sites include five famous temples: Wat Pho, Wat Rakhang Kositaram, Wat Arun, Wat Kalayanamit, and Wat Prayurawongsawat, as well as popular riverside attractions, Yodpiman River Walk, Tha Maharaj, Lhong 1919, and Asiatique The Riverfront Destination.

Thai women don traditional attire to celebrate the traditional Thai New Year.//Photo: Wat Pho

Just a short walk from the Grand Palace, Wat Pho hosts the grand Songkran Festival to celebrate Thai New Year, recognized by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

The festival showcases the ultimate Thai traditions of the country, including “Tod Pha Pa Loi Fa” (hanging wall of offerings), building sand pagodas, Thai massage and Muay Thai showcases, a Phi Ta Khon Mask parade, and Manora Dance shows.

A series of long-lost and fun activities will take turns entertaining the temple visitors—especially children—during the Songkran festival.

You can’t claim to have celebrated Songkran in Bangkok and return to your hotel dry as a bone.

Khao San Road, just a short walk from Sanam Luang, transforms into a waterlogged wonderland during Songkran, where the streets become splash zones and the air echoes with laughter and the occasional water balloon ambush.

Picture this: colourful water guns in every hand, buckets brimming with water strategically placed along the sidewalks, and a constant chorus of joyful screams as water splashes from every direction.

Khao San Road becomes a vibrant playground where locals and travellers converge to celebrate Songkran in the most spirited way possible.

Amidst the water fights, makeshift stages host lively music performances, traditional Thai dancers enthral the crowd, and vendors line the streets selling an array of street food delights and refreshing drinks to keep energy levels high.

Thai people offer Songkran bathing to Buddhist monks, marking the beginning of the Thai New Year.//Photo: Wat Pho

Meanwhile, in Silom, Bangkok’s bustling business district, the streets transform into aquatic battlegrounds, and laughter reverberates off the skyscrapers.

But the festivities in Silom aren’t solely about getting soaked; they’re also a celebration of community and culture.

With traditional Thai music filling the air and crowds of locals and expats immersed in the water battle, Silom’s Songkran scene sets itself apart from the touristy scene of Khao San and the traditional showcase in Sanam Luang.

A mother and child engage in the traditional ritual of bathing a Buddha image, symbolizing a blissful beginning, during Thai New Year celebrations.//Photo: Wat Pho

For those who wish to experience Thai New Year festivities without getting drenched, the mega malls are likely the only viable option.

Along the Chao Phraya River, IconSiam’s “THAICONIC Songkran Celebration 2024” blends traditional Thai customs with contemporary festivities.

The riverside mall has brought in a replica of Phra Phuttha Sihing from Wat Phra Singh Woramahaviharn, Chiang Mai, for the water sprinkling ceremony.

For the ultimate fun, IconSiam transforms the River Park area into a Water Splash Landmark featuring a Giant Water Tower amidst the beautiful scenery of the Chao Phraya River.

In the heart of Bangkok, CentralWorld presents Miss Universe Sheynnis Palacios in the Thai Rhythm Carnival parade on April 13 and 14.

Taking centre stage at the Rajprasong Intersection, the celebration promises festival-goers a fun Songkran Water Festival with its first-ever Songkran Flow Day.

Thai PBS World Feature Desk