» In the hot summer, a smiling Thailand celebrates the New Year

In the hot summer, a smiling Thailand celebrates the New Year

Respect and revelry mark the celebration of Thailand’s Buddhist New Year, known as Songkran, a favorite among tourists and locals alike for its water gun battles, temple visits and water purification rituals to honor elders.

Songkran is usually held in April at the height of Thailand’s hot season and lasts for three days. Thailand’s neighbors in Southeast Asia also celebrate the Buddhist New Year. Songkran in Thailand is the most famous festival in the world.

Many families visit Buddhist temples, where they wash or pour perfume on Buddha images to represent purification and good fortune. The younger generation will also splash water on the hands of older relatives and colleagues to show their respect and pray for blessings in the coming year.

Outside temples and homes, young and old alike enjoy splashing water on each other in the sweltering heat. Water guns are popular in playful battles everywhere. Tourists love to join in the fun, especially at the “free shooting zones” on Bangkok’s Khao San Road and Phuket’s Bangla Road, where tens of thousands take part.

Airlines have increased flights by more than 60% to accommodate the surge in passengers, with the government estimating five million people hit Thailand’s roads during the extended holiday.

The surge in tourism also presents an opportunity for hotels, restaurants and other tourist establishments and attractions to generate as much revenue as possible before the monsoon season begins in May. Various research centers estimate that the national celebration will generate between $52.5 and $675 million in revenue.

Songkran is one of three New Years that Thais celebrate, the others being the Universal New Year on January 1, and the Chinese New Year, which usually takes place in February or March.

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