6 June 2024

Water, colours, mud and more are coming to the Thai capital this week. After being kept under wraps during the pandemic, the Songkran festival is making a daring comeback in Bangkok with an international fiesta, street food and parties,

To make it the best Songkran yet, Bangkok will celebrate the Songkran Festival in full force, complete with Holi from India, South Korea’s Mud Festival, Setsubun from Japan and China’s Po Shui Jie. The fiesta, which promises plenty of dirt and fun, will be taking place at Sam Yan (Chula Soi 5) – the city’s up-and-coming neighbourhood – from April 13 to 15.

Songkran is celebrated every April, a time when Thais traditionally reunite with their families, visit a temple and pour scented water to mark the new year. But the new year and homecoming customs have travelled far beyond those humble beginnings since gaining recognition as the ultimate water festival among foreign tourists. From April 13-15, locals and tourists will be gathering with buckets full of water at city landmarks such as Khao San Road and Silom in Bangkok or Tha Pae Gate in Chiang Mai to dance, sing and play their way into a new year.

Songkran celebrations were kept to a minimum during the novel coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19). To make up for those subdued years, this week the capital is welcoming the Songkran extravaganza with the International Amazing Splash 2023 and the Amazing Songkran 2023.

International tourists enjoy the Songkran festival in Bangkok. (Photo by Phoowadon Duangmee)

Leave your best shirt at home

The International Amazing Splash 2023, the first of its kind in Thailand, will add an international vibe to the traditional Thai new year with parades from China, India, Japan, South Korea and Thailand – that have similar (more or less) celebrations to Songkran.

The Thai parade will highlight the procession of the Emerald Buddha statue and floats of the Goddess of Songkran, while the Chinese – or the Dai ethnic people of Xishuangbanna – will bring the joy of water splashing or Po Shui Jie to the city of Bangkok.

The Japanese will show off their Setsubun festival, which involves the eating and throwing of beans to ward off evil spirits.

Which will be the dirtiest has yet to be decided but the competition between India’s Holi parade and the Mud festival from South Korea is guaranteed to be a whole lot of mucky fun.

Holi, also known as the festival of colours, is India’s much-loved festival that celebrates the triumph of good over evil. On this festive day, people play with colours, meet and greet one another and create new beginnings. The Indian participants will bring a glimpse of the Holi festival to Bangkok this week.  Imagine Holi meeting Songkran, a rendezvous of colours and water.

Tourists play in a mud pool during the 22th Boryeong Mud Festival at Daecheon beach in Boryeong. (Photo by Minji SUH / AFP)

The South Koreans, on other hand, will walk into the venue with their famous Boryeong Mud festival, a summer event that celebrates the highly prized mud of Boryeong town.

Visitors to Chula Soi 5 will be able to experience Songkran the traditional way, too. With the Amazing Songkran 2023, five unique Songkran themes from different parts of Thailand will make their bold statements with arts and crafts, food and traditions. Expect elaborate hanging flags from Chiang Mai, sand and rice castles from Chachoengsao and Chon Buri, and Khao Chae – or rice soaked in scented water.

The amazing Songkran festival is back with an amazing food scene, with more than 30 food trucks offering international fare from South Korea, China, Japan, Thailand and more.

If you go

Chula Soi 5 is within walking distance from either the Samyan MRT station or the National Stadium BTS station.