The Songkran Way of Life
The world’s largest water fight was traditionally a Buddhist festival that marked the New Year and began as a humble and pious affair. Thai people visited their local temples to pay respects to their ancestors and to sprinkle scented water on the hands of monks in a symbolic ritual.
In recent years the festival has become more akin to a battleground where water pistols and buckets of ice water are the tools of war. Anyone travelling to major cities in Thailand should know that they will be especially favoured targets of locals with water guns at the ready.
How is Songkran Really Celebrated?
The four-day festival is a major attraction for tourists and residents alike and Kasikorn bank has the figures to back this up. In a recent forecast the bank estimated that Bangkok residents alone would spend 28,500 million THB (or just over $1 billion AUS) over the course of the festivities. This figure is expected to continue its upward trend over the next few years.
The bank’s research centre investigated further and came up with some surprising data after interviewing 616 atypical Bangkok residents in regards to their Songkran plans and perceptions.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the survey substantiated the widely held belief that the New Year celebrations are still about people revisiting their roots and spending a few days with important family members. Of the respondents, 33.8 % stated they would be returning to their hometowns to do exactly that.
A much larger proportion of those surveyed (54.9 %) confirmed that they would be travelling north to more rural areas in order to get out of the capital and escape to relatively calmer forms of celebration.
Only 15.9 % said they would be travelling to other provinces and a meagre 5.2 % intended to travel overseas for a well-deserved break. Most would stay in the capital to celebrate the New Year with a big splash.
What Goes Into Celebrating Songkran?
About 80 % of all Songkran spending will go into circulation around the provincials, the majority of which will be earmarked for merry-making essentials, closely followed by travel, accommodation and shopping.
Typically Bangkok and Chiang Mai are the most frequented locales visited for the purposes of celebrating Songkran however it is worth pointing out that the festivities of many remote villages will rival that of their much larger counterparts. Hotel accommodation tends to be much cheaper and there is more of a traditional element at play.
There are many sights to see in and around the capital and the celebrations can make for an excellent start to your holiday. Thailand is a fantastic travel destination and many tourists regard their experiences in the country amongst their top travel memories of all time.
Songkran in 2016 stands to be bigger and better than ever and, regardless of your celebratory preference, you’ll be able to explore the best of both worlds during your next trip to the centre of fun and frivolity.