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The annual Songkran Festival (comes from Sanskrit and means astrological passage) marks the Thai New Year and is the most crazy holiday of national celebration. Thais will spend these days with family, going to temples, parties and water fights (this last - the ultimate water war - is a common sight in Thailand). The date of the Songkran Festival used to be decided based on the lunar calendar, but now the date is fixed at April 13 to 16 this year. As one of Thailand's biggest celebrations, the public holiday has become Thailand's busiest holiday, also attracting thousands of travelers. The opening ceremony of the Thai Water Festival takes place on the morning of April 13th, and though it officially lasts only three days, many people extend the holiday to one week, especially in Pattaya.
This Buddhist celebration includes various rich traditional activities. The first morning begins with a merit-making, such as releasing birds and fish (even larger animals like buffalo and cows). After that, many Thais visit local temples and give food to Buddhist monks. Another traditional practice is to pour water on Buddhist statues as well as on people (in modern times many young people have adapted this to use squirt guns; see below), symbolizing the purification and cleansing of iniquity and bad luck. It's also a day of family reunion, when people who move away usually return to the homes of their loved ones and elders (reverence for ancestors is an important part of Songkran tradition as in Thai culture generally).
The festival is especially famous for its water carnivals, with streets are blocked and used as places for water fights. On this celebrant, not matter young or old, you can throw water on each other to participate in this traditional activity. In some places, there will be traditional parades and Miss Songkran pageant, with all contestants in traditional Thai costumes.
As Songkran approaches, people in the central region clean their houses, and during the festival many wear colorful clothes or traditional Thai costume. After giving alms to the monks, people devoutly offer sacrifices to their ancestors as well as donations such as giving sand to temples for construction or repair.
Thais in southern areas such as Phuket and Krabi have four rules: little work; spend less money; do not hurt animals; and be honest to others.
In northern Thailand, such as Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, firecrackers were used to repel bad luck of the previous year, and in addition to bringing food and useful items to monks at temples, they go there to bathe Buddha statues and pour water on the hands of elders to pray for their blessings.
Eastern regions such as Pattaya have the activities are similar to those in other parts of Thailand, but throughout the day of Songkran, people also build sand towers in temples. Some people prepare food for the elderly after their success in the temples. The duration of Songkran Festival in Pattaya is the longest in Thailand - a whole week..
Nobody will escape getting wet during the Songkran Festival - in fact, don't plan to dry during the day unless you keep yourself locked in the hotel room for three days. Once you step out of your room, even the hotel staff will greet you with water. Only few people, such as monks, old people, infants and pregnant women will be protected from being splashed.
As mentioned above, everything that leaves outside unprotected will definitely be soaked. So either make everything waterproof or leave all your valuables at your hotel.
Most tourist-popular cities such as Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket will rise to the peak during these days. You must reserve online or arrive early so that you can hope to find a place close to action. Besides, booking early will have a better price. It's advised to book four to five months in advance.