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Soaked and loving it (Songkran)


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Soaked and loving it






Places to go :GoldenSmile1: or places to avoid :NoNo3: - up to you


From dusk till dawn, we offer a guide to making the most out of summer's hottest days


(Nation Multimedia Source)


Songkran, the traditional Thai new year, may be about going home but there's no denying that many people do in fact leave their homes to celebrate in other places. From Friday until Monday, the official Songkran holiday, all of Thailand will be celebrating this much-loved festival.

From Bangkok to Khon Kaen and Chiang Mai to Hat Yai, millions of us - Thai, Mon, Chinese, farang, Shan and the Burmese too - will be taking to the streets, as well as to the temple, to celebrate Songkran and mark the lunar New Year.

Where can you go for Songkran Festival? Whether you fancy a gentle, traditional sprinkling

or a bucketful of icy water over your head, the following venues have all you need for a good time.



Nagaraphirom Park - the city's latest green space on the west side of Chao Phraya - is hosting grand Songkran festival from now until Sunday. Those unable to make it out of town to see their folks upcountry should find some comfort here, as the park will be offering the country's best cultural showcases as well as food from every part of Thailand.

For a really wet-and-wild scene, Khao San Road is definitely the place to be. Armed with pump-action water canons and buckets of coloured powder, thousands of fun-lovers will be soaking everything that moves. From tomorrow (until there is nothing left to soak), Khao San Road and Santi Chaiprakan Park in Bang Lamphu play host to the International Songkran Festival with constant water throwing, lots of noise and people of all nationalities having fun.

Siam Square, Bangkok's favourite teen hub and hangout, answers Khao San's wild water festival with its own "neo-nostalgic" version. Under the theme "Pha Khao Ma - Thai Turban Conquers the World", Songkran Festival at Siam Square combines the best of both worlds. From Friday to Sunday, party-goers will welcome monks in the morning for a ritual blessing before making way for music by Moderndog, Joey Boy and others. Bring your own pha khao ma.

For more sedate fun, nine temples around Sanam Luang, among them Wat Pho, Wat Phra Kaew (the Temple of Emerald Buddha) and Wat Bowonniwet, are holding Songkran fairs from Friday to Sunday.



Wat Khanon Temple dims the light low and goes for a low-key drama when it's time to celebrate the traditional Thai New Year. On Friday and Saturday nights, the temple will be hosting the Thai Puppet Festival in its grounds. This annual festival always draws the country's best puppet masters and culture buffs for the finest traditional performing art. The highlight will be Nang Yai Shadow Puppets who'll be recounting the ancient epic of the Ramayana. Adding even more colour to the light and shadow are smaller rod puppets, Lanna Khon dance and Dikir Hulu Muslim folk dances, along with workshop and hand-on demonstrations of mask and puppet making and other traditional performing arts. Wat Khanon, in Ratchaburi's Photharam district, is about 85 kilometre west of Bangkok.



There's never a bad time to visit the Lanna capital, but one of the best is during the Songkran holiday - when there are festivals, tasting events and the chance to rub shoulders with the locals. The New Year begins in the temples with a gentle sprinkling of water and a light dusting on the cheeks with fragrant paste. Once they're done with the temple affairs, throngs of locals and visitors march to the city moats with buckets in hand. Things get messier as they start throwing water on passers-by. The festival culminates at night with lively dancing at Thapae Gate.



Here, in Siam's old capital, you're in a tug of water war with elephants. A grand procession of Buddha images, accompanied by the elephants and the Queen of Songkran takes place today on the city's main road, leading the way to the historical park. The best places to hang out are Wiharn Phra Mongkhon Bophit, the ruins of the historical park, and in and around the island. Ayutthaya celebrates with a parade and great fanfare from Friday to Sunday.



Pattaya folk celebrate Songkran a week later though you can still expect to get wet over the next three days. On April 20, Pattaya beach road will be closed to pave the way for the Buddha procession. Afterwards, young people go gunning for fun armed with double-barrel water cannons and buckets, ensuring the beach town gets totally soaked. Among the more courageous "roadside warriors" are the transvestites who turn up in super-tight T-shirts clamouring for more water.



The old Mon neighbourhood of Phra Pradaeng keeps the best for last, celebrating Songkran in a three-day event that kicks off on Saturday, April 22. The centrepiece is at Wat Ketchedtharam, a Mon temple in Phra Pradaeng district, with merit-making and entertainment that runs from dawn till late at night. Expect traditional Mon games like sa-baa, great food and folk arts.



You've probably done many kinds of Songkran Festival - gentle sprinkles of fragrant water in Chiang Mai, buckets of icy water in Khao San Road or even getting hit by a plastic bag full of nam pla ra (fermented fish sauce) in Isaan. But you can't say you're done with Songkran until you visit Hat Yai. Tucked away in Thailand's South, the tourist town of Hat Yai will throw midnight parties to celebrate Songkran Festival. Buddha bathing, Queen of Songkran contest, foam party and many fun-filled activities take place after the night falls during the Songkran holiday.

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