Songkran revellers choose Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is at the top of the wish list for the 70% of foreign tourists who plan to join in Songkran celebrations, the Bangkok Poll reported on Wednesday.

But a full 30% said they had no thought of joining in the celebration at all, according to Bangkok Poll, which is the research centre of Bangkok University.

The pollster said opinions were sought from foreign tourists in Bangkok between April 2 and April 4. It did not say how many foreigners were interviewed.

Bangkok Poll said 14.9% of those who plan to take part in the festivities picked Chiang Mai as their destination of choice for water throwing. Phuket (10.3%) and Khao San Road (8.4%) were the second and third choices.

Asked about their main concerns about joining the Songkran celebration, 32.5% of them said personal safety and their possessions, 29.3% pointed to traffic congestion and 15% said rude and aggressive water play.

But 26.3% of the respondents had no worries at all.

Asked which tourist attractions they wanted to visit the most, 26.9% said ancient ruins, 24.4% preferred natural tourist destinations, and 14.5% wanted to see Thai culture, tradition and folk art.

The polled foreigners gave an average satisfaction rating of 7.65 points out of 10 for their visit to Thailand, up 0.23 points on a survey a few days earlier, from March 30 to April 1.

Asked whether they would visit Thailand again, 80.9% said they would, 17.2% were unsure and 1.9% said no.

A full 93.6% of the respondents said they would recommend that their friends and relatives visit Thailand, 5.1% were unsure and 1.3% would not do so.

Given two choices, 96% of the visitors had ``strong confidence'' in security measures by Thai authorities, while 4% had little confidence.

Meanwhile, army spokeswoman Sirichan Ngathong said all military camps along main highways will be open to people travelling during the Songkran holidays who need to rest and relax.

Col Sirichan said military bases on main highways as Phahon Yothin, Mitrapap and Phetchakasem, and those located at popular tourist destinations, were expected to attract the most visitors.

A service centre will be set up in front of each camp, open around the clock to assist as needed, she said.

Soldiers would be on duty to provide help to motorists, to help reduce road accidents, and to preserve the fine traditions of Songkran.

All army-run hospitals have been instructed to have medical teams and equipment on standby to provide assistance as needed, in coordination with local health offices.

Army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha has also ordered all units to have vehicles, aircraft and mobile units ready to help whereever urgent assistance might be needed.

Army units along the border will be on alert for smugglers trying to take advantage of the increased border traffic during the holiday period, but would be careful not to ruin the holiday spirit, Col Sirichan said.

In Laos, people will push back the start of their own three-day pee mai Lao (Lao New Year) celebrations by one day, from the traditional April 13 to Sunday April 14.

Viroth Sundara, Minister Counsellor of the Lao embassy to Thailand, said the water festival in Laos, will be celebrated one day after Thailand's Songkran Day, which falls on Saturday.

The official public holiday in Laos, when all offices are closed, will be from Sunday to Wednesday, he added. Laos has never before changed the date of the traditional New Year holiday.

Champassak, opposite Thailand's Ubon Ratchathani province, expects Thai visitors to join the celebration and the province will invite tourism officials from Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam for the holiday festival, Mala Chanthalam, an official of the provincial Department of Information, Culture and Tourism, told the Vientiane Times.

"I believe a lot of Thai people will come here for the traditional water festival, as we've been announcing it on the radio since the start of the month," she said.

The Laos Meteorology and Hydrology Department forecast temperatures around 40 degrees Celsius during the holiday.

Related search: thailand, songkran, new year, water festival, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Khao San, Bangkok, Lao Pee Mai, Laos

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