The term ‘Songkran’ comes from a Sanskrit word meaning ‘astrological passage’: it symbolises the beginning of a new solar year and the start of spring. Traditionally, Thai families would spring-clean their homes, ritually cleansing their Buddhas with water, then splash each other with the ‘blessed’ water for purification, good fortune, and to pay their respects to each other.
Today this has developed into a massive water fight that continues for three days. Thais and foreigners prowl the streets with water guns and huge containers of water, soaking anybody and everybody, including the police!
Easily the most popular Thai festival, it’s recommended that you book your accommodation in advance and check the roads if you’re travelling, as major roads are often closed for water fights. The northern city of Chiang Mai hosts the most popular celebrations, which often last throughout the entire week.