Songkran, is the festival marking the Thai New Year, and is about making a fresh start with a splash. Water everywhere, and you can’t be afraid of getting a little wet! As this festival has not been celebrated for 3 years, thanks Covid – it was great to see it return with enthusiasm and lots of participation. So I thought it a good idea to share details & some images that have been published.

This well known Thailand festival began on April 13 and around Chiang Mai lasts three days. In some other cities in Thailand festivities can start earlier or can end later. The main focus of the celebration is about moving forward. I am told the word Songkran comes from a phrase in the Sanskrit language that means “passage of the sun.”


Water plays a major role in the festival. Symbolically it washes away the previous year so people can get ready for the next one. But many other Songkran traditions use water as well. People prepare for the new year by cleaning houses, schools, offices, and other public spaces. They’re joined by family members who have moved away and returned over the festival to spend time with family. Honoring family traditions and religious practices are important parts of Songkran.

While it is more famously known for scenes of partying and water spraying, there is a traditional values side of the festival involving families visiting Buddhist temples, where they bring offerings such as food and listen to Buddhist monks as they preach. Visitors sprinkle clean or scented water over statues of Buddha to represent purification and good fortune. Younger people also pour water on the hands of elderly relatives and friends to show their respect and ask for blessings in the coming year. At many temple visitors bring sand, which is meant to replenish the sand that’s been carried away on shoes throughout the year. They bring the sand to temples and pile it in stupas (or mounds) on the ground, which are then decorated with colorful flags and flowers.

Photo Credit – Jonky Dawson, CM

Water Fun

Having fun is a big part of Songkran and it is celebrated with parades, street parties, loud music with giant friendly water fights.

Thai people and tourists alike enjoy the festival. Chiang Mai is a great spot to join in or see the fun in action with many events organised around the Old City moat & throughout the streets of town. People gather water in their Songkran devices, such as in buckets, squirt guns, and anything else they can find, then hit the streets to playfully splash each other. April is one of the hottest months of the year in Thailand, so ideal for getting wet.

Check out this video (from CM 108) – – shows the fun water splashing times in action.

A great visual representation of the festival best explains the celebration

– (picture credits – Jonky Dawson CM – who captured some wonderful images).

The city of Chiang Mai is also celebrating it’s 727 anniversary this year. There are lots of tourists in town & there is lots of traffic – so going out and about requires patience. This year we have had to watch festival from home, seeing many Facebook posts and news media coverage. Ace’s mother is currently staying with us and is not very well – so we aren’t venturing out too much.

Happy Songkran

One thought on “Songkran – Thai New Year 2023

  1. Dear Ron,

    My best wishes to you and your family for Thai New Year.

    Sam Da Costa

    On Sat, Apr 15, 2023 at 2:13 PM Chiang Mai Expat & AUS Hon Con – R


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