Oh…my…gosh. I have never had so much fun in my entire life. Everyone loves a good water fight with water canons on a hot day. Now close your eyes and imagine this…millions of people (yes millions) all celebrating the happiest and friendliest water festival ever. This is the Thailand Songkran Festival, and it’s a huge event where the whole country celebrates. And if this isn’t enough, there are elephants spraying people with water on the streets. Elephants! Elephants and water, and happy people. What more can a kid at heart ask for?
The Thailand water festival officially lasts for three days starting on April 13th and ends on April 15th, and is a celebration of the traditional Thai new year. The city of Chiang Mai is the epicenter of the festival, and you will see big celebrations also in Phuket, Bangkok, and Pattaya.
But it’s not all just giggling and water canons. The Songkran festival has religious origins where people gently wash Buddha statues with scented water and elders are honored by pouring water respectfully over their hands. Water is used to wash away bad thoughts and bring good luck to the new year. In the temples, you will see many people respectfully honoring their Buddhist religion. It was a very moving moment for me watching and participating in this honored tradition.
Of all of the temples I visited during the Songkran festival, my favorite was the temple on the hill known as “Doi Suthep”. Many people visit this time of year, and the tradition is to slowly and respectfully walk three times around the golden temple in a tightly packed square, bowing your head and ringing the bells that surround the temple.
If you are looking for a great hotel in Chiang Mai during the festival at a good price, I would recommend the Amata Lanna bed and breakfast. In my opinion, I believe they serve some of the best coffee I have ever tasted. I drink my coffee black, so you may or may not agree with me, but I thought it was delicious. The breakfast is made to order, and the service is fantastic. The Amata Lanna is within walking distance to the main square, making it very convenient to visit the night bazaar.