Songkran in Chiang Mai: Celebrating Thailand’s Biggest Water Festival

Songkran is a festival that takes place annually in Thailand to celebrate the Thai New Year. It is also known as the Water Festival because of the tradition of throwing water at each other. The festival is celebrated all over Thailand, but the biggest celebration takes place in Chiang Mai.

Chiang Mai is a city in northern Thailand that is known for its rich history and culture. The city is home to many temples, museums, and festivals, including Songkran. The festival in Chiang Mai lasts for three days and is a time for both locals and tourists to come together and celebrate.

The festival is a time for renewal and cleansing, which is why it is celebrated during the hottest time of the year. The water is used to wash away bad luck and to bring good luck for the coming year. Songkran is a unique experience that should not be missed for anyone visiting Thailand during the festival.

History of Songkran in Chiang Mai

Songkran is a traditional Thai New Year celebrated annually between the 13th and 15th of April. The word “Songkran” is derived from the Sanskrit word “Sankranti,” meaning “movement” or “change.” This festival is celebrated throughout Thailand, but the celebrations in Chiang Mai are particularly famous.

The origins of Songkran can be traced back to ancient Hindu traditions, which were later adopted by the Buddhist community in Thailand. The festival is associated with the sun’s movement into the zodiac sign of Aries, which marks the beginning of the Thai New Year.

The Songkran festival in Chiang Mai has a rich history that dates back to the Lanna Kingdom. The festival was initially celebrated as a religious ceremony to mark the beginning of the agricultural season. The Lanna people would sprinkle water on each other as a symbol of purification, renewal, and good luck. The water was also used to pay respect to Buddha images and to wash away the sins and bad luck of the previous year.

Over time, the festival evolved into a more festive occasion, with people splashing water on each other as a way of having fun and keeping cool during the hot season. Today, Songkran in Chiang Mai is a lively celebration that attracts both locals and tourists from all over the world.

Celebrations and Traditions

The Songkran Festival in Chiang Mai is a time of great celebration and traditions. As the Thai New Year, it is a time for renewal, cleansing, and new beginnings. During the festival, the streets of Chiang Mai come alive with colorful parades, water fights, and cultural performances.

One of the most important traditions of Songkran is the pouring of water. This is a symbol of purification and is meant to wash away bad luck and misfortune. People pour water on each other, on Buddha statues, and on the hands of elders as a sign of respect. The water is often scented with flowers and herbs to add to the festive atmosphere.

Another important tradition is the building of sand stupas. These are small mounds of sand that are decorated with colorful flags and flowers. The sand stupas are meant to represent the Buddha’s enlightenment and serve as a reminder to Buddhists of the importance of seeking enlightenment in their own lives.

During Songkran, it is also common to visit temples and make merit. This involves making offerings to the monks and participating in religious ceremonies. Many people also visit their families during the festival and spend time together.

Top Places to Celebrate Songkran in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is one of the best places to celebrate Songkran, the Thai New Year. The city comes alive during the festival with locals and tourists alike taking part in water fights and other festivities. Here are some of the top places to celebrate Songkran in Chiang Mai:

Place Description
Tha Phae Gate This is one of the most popular places to celebrate Songkran in Chiang Mai. It’s a great spot to join in with the water fights and enjoy the festive atmosphere.
City Moat and around the Old Town The moat is another popular spot for Songkran celebrations. It’s a great place to cool off during the hot days of the festival and join in with the water fights.
Nimmanhaemin Road This trendy area of the city is a great place to celebrate Songkran. The road is closed to traffic during the festival, and there are plenty of bars and restaurants to enjoy.

Aside from these popular spots, there are also plenty of smaller streets and alleys throughout the city where you can join in with the water fights and celebrate Songkran with the locals. Just be sure to respect people’s property and avoid throwing water at those who don’t want to participate.

Another great way to celebrate Songkran in Chiang Mai is to visit some of the city’s revered temples, such as Wat Phra Singh and Wat Chedi Luang. These temples often hold special ceremonies and events during the festival, and they offer a more spiritual way to experience Songkran.

Overall, Chiang Mai is a fantastic place to celebrate Songkran. Whether you’re looking to join in with the water fights or experience the more traditional side of the festival, there’s something for everyone in this vibrant city.

Tips for Enjoying Songkran in Chiang Mai

If you’re planning to join in the fun during Songkran in Chiang Mai, here are a few tips to help you make the most of your experience:

  • Wear clothes that you don’t mind getting wet. You’ll be soaked from head to toe, so it’s best to wear something that dries quickly and won’t weigh you down.
  • Protect your electronics. If you plan to bring your phone or camera, make sure to keep them in a waterproof case or plastic bag to prevent water damage.
  • Apply sunscreen liberally. Even though you’ll be getting wet, the sun can still be intense and cause sunburns.
  • Be respectful. Remember that Songkran is a religious holiday, so be respectful of the traditions and customs. Don’t throw water at monks or people who are not participating in the festival.
  • Stay hydrated. It can get hot and humid during the festival, so make sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
  • Plan ahead. If you want to participate in specific events or activities, make sure to check the schedule ahead of time and plan accordingly.

By following these tips, you can have a fun and enjoyable experience during Songkran in Chiang Mai. Just remember to stay safe, be respectful, and have fun!


Chiang Mai is the perfect place to experience the Songkran Festival, which is celebrated every year in April. This festival is a great way to experience Thai culture, as it is one of the most important holidays in the country.

During the festival, you can participate in the famous water fights, visit temples to offer merit, and enjoy traditional Thai food. Chiang Mai is also home to over 300 temples, making it a great destination for anyone interested in Buddhism.

If you plan to attend the festival, we recommend visiting during the official dates of April 13th-16th, with the best days to go downtown being the 14th and 15th. Keep in mind that the festival can be crowded and chaotic, so be sure to take necessary precautions and stay safe.

Overall, Songkran in Chiang Mai is an unforgettable experience that should not be missed. From the religious ceremonies to the water fights, there is something for everyone to enjoy. We hope this guide has been helpful in planning your trip to Chiang Mai for Songkran!