The charm of Songkran
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The charm of Songkran

Life explores options to celebrate Thai New Year in Bangkok and Samut Prakan

The charm of Songkran

After being listed as a Unesco Intangible Cultural Heritage late last year, Songkran is gaining momentum in drawing tourists to Thailand. In an attempt to boost tourism, Thai New Year celebrations get under way today and will last until April 17 in various places.

As streets turn into lively battlefields for water splashing from tomorrow, some people might prefer to spend the long weekend in the capital to escape gridlock. This year, Life is providing day-trip options in Bangkok and Samut Prakan where people of all ages can get involved in splashing water and take part in the charm of Thai culture.

Wat Phra Chetuphon Wimon Mangkhalaram is offering a range of cultural performances and leisure activities for people of all ages.


Built in the Ayutthaya era and reconstructed in the reign of King Rama I, Wat Chana Songkhram Ratchaworamaha- wihan is an ideal spot to begin the New Year, since its name denotes victory.

Just a stone's throw from Khao San Road, this temple was formerly known as Wat Klang Na before being renamed to honour Viceroy Maha Surasinghanat, who won a trio of victories against the Burmese army. Thus, it seems that visiting there on New Year's Day is a blessing of a trouble-free future.

Inside, the ubosot houses a lacquered and gilded stucco statue of Phra Phuttha Norasi Trilokchet Mahetthisak Puchaniyajayanta Gautama Boromasasada to which worshippers can pray for success and peace. Outside, visitors can sprinkle scented water on statues and Buddha's footprints and pay homage to statues of the Goddess of Mercy, and Katyayana (Laughing Buddha), which sit in a Chinese-style shrine.

Afterwards, visitors can take a 2km tuk tuk ride to Wat Phra Chetuphon Wimon Mangkhalaram in Rattanakosin island. There, visitors can dress in vintage Thai outfits and visualise themselves in the Ayutthaya period when this historic temple was built.

When King Rama I relocated the capital to the eastern banks of the Chao Phraya River, the temple was renovated and King Rama III expanded the monastery compound by building two viharas, Missakawan Park, a library hall and a teaching hall.

Upon arrival, visitors can pour fragrant water over Buddha statues and create sand pagodas against the backdrop of stone sculptures illustrating classic Thai yoga poses. You can also write your name and wishes on a long yellow robe that will be used to wrap a sacred Bodhi tree on April 17.

The temple's ubosot enshrines a statue of Phra Buddha Theva Patimakorn and some ashes of King Rama I, while the walls are covered with striking murals that depict Mahosatha Pandita (The Great Bachelor of Mithila City), the disciple Phra Etadagga and eight effigies of the Holy Priests standing on the lowest pedestal.

In the main hall, visitors can worship the tremendous 46m statue of the Reclining Buddha, whose mother-of-pearl-inlaid soles depict 108 auspicious symbols, for prosperity, good health and achievement in the forthcoming year.

From 12.30pm to 10pm, the temple ground will be turned into an entertainment venue featuring a wide range of interesting cultural performances from different regions such as phi ta khon (an Isan-style ghost mask parade), klong sabat chai (Lanna-style drum show), khon mask dance, likay (Thai folk theatre) and southern-style nora dance as well as a luk thung singing contest.

Experts will also demonstrate how to make kites and traditional fragrances, while 110 vendors will set up booths to offer a variety of local delicacies, lifestyle products and handicrafts. There will also be 40 experienced fortune tellers on hand for consultations.

Today, the Maha Songkran World Water Festival 2024 officially kicks off at 5.30pm and visitors can watch 20 magnificent processions of Buddha images, Mahodhara Devi (the Nang Songkran goddess of 2024), Songkran traditions from 16 provinces with 1,000 performers, and a march from Phan Fa Lilat Bridge to the Ratchadamnoen Klang Avenue and Sanam Luang.

Until April 15, Sanam Luang will also serve as a colourful cultural square where visitors can sprinkle water on sacred Buddha images for blessings and enjoy cultural performances from five different regions, vibrant light displays, striking projection mapping and drone shows that highlight the charm of Thai traditions.


In Samut Prakan, the Mon community is showcasing a grand procession of mythical creatures to celebrate Songkran Festival.

Samut Prakan

From Saturday until April 15, Mon descendants will gather in Phra Pradaeng district for the Phra Pradaeng Songkran Festival to celebrate their unique cultural heritage. Visitors can see the stunning procession of huge swan-like sculptures and sand pagodas adorned with centipede-like flags making its way to Wat Klang Na.

Built in the reign of King Rama III, the old temple houses the ancient Lopburi-style statue of Luang Pu Mon and its ritual ground welcomes Buddhist pilgrims to offer prayers in hope of receiving blessings. Younger generations will also take to the stage for various cultural performances during the day.

Alternatively, those wanting to keep away from chaos can start their day by worshiping a colossal 32m-tall statue of Phra Phutthalokchet Wiset Kittipan Mahachonbuchit at Wat Bang Ping. It comes in a posture of disclosing three worlds and visitors can pray for explicit vision, prosperity and good health.

Situated on Srinagarindra Road, the ubosot's astonishing 3D illuminated murals chronicle the story of Lord Buddha's life and a multitude of small Buddha statues are set on the walls to represent the belief of 108 Buddhas. As pilgrims pass through the gateway, they can imagine themselves ascending to the centre of the Buddhist universe.

When the lights are dimmed, the path leads to Mount Meru, which is surrounded by Khao Sattaboriphan (the Seven Mountains) and Himmapan Forest, with a backdrop of Phra Samut Chedi and Bhumibol Bridges showcasing a co-existence of old and new.

On the other side, visitors can observe His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great's royal projects such as the Thailand Royal Rainmaking Project, Bhumibol Dam, the Chang Hua Man Royal Initiative and Agricultural Project, and the Doi Inthanon Royal Project.

Before leaving the temple, visitors can ascend the 179m-tall Samut Prakan Learning Park and City Observation Tower to take in the significant trading hub on the banks of Chao Phraya River. With a budget of 593 million baht, it combines a museum, a kids' learning centre, a public library and an observation deck all under one roof.

Wat Bang Ping boasts a 32m-tall statue of Phra Phutthalokchet Wiset Kittipan Mahachonbuchit and 3D illuminated murals.

The Phra Chulachomklao Fort, Bhumibol Bridges, the Phra Samut Chedi, and the mouth of the Chao Phraya River are just a few of the famous sights of Samut Prakan that can be seen from the observation deck on the 25th floor.

Also, the interactive exhibition "From Tales To Town" will transport visitors back to the heydays of the Ayutthaya era when this old town functioned as the frontline for marine commerce and the defence of the Kingdom's borders.

It is divided into six zones, one of which is titled "Pioneering The Old Front Pier" and tells the tale of the ancient Dutch trading port of New Amsterdam using projection mapping and cutting-edge light and sound diorama techniques.

The "Advancing Defensive Turret" zone is designed to resemble a mini theatre, where visitors can immerse themselves in the 1893 Franco-Siamese War, which ended when Siam agreed to cede occupied land in Laos to France in exchange for peace. As a result of this fight, Siam advanced into modernisation and formed Thailand's modern navy.

In Muang Boran visitors can experience a traditional water battle and cultural rituals.

Located 10km away from the observation tower, Muang Boran celebrates Songkran from Saturday until April 16 with a wide range of cultural performances and leisure activities such as muay Thai boxing. Visitors in colourful floral-inspired shirts can pour water on Buddha images for blessings and create sand pagodas before fighting against domesticated elephants in a water war.

Those avoiding water splashing can take a break at the Old Market Town and savour some traditional Thai delicacies and drinks in a nostalgic setting. It is home to barbers, old-fashioned boutiques, a traditional casino, a bawdy house as well as theatres for nang yai shadow plays and Chinese opera to capture the lifestyle of the old days.

This largest outdoor museum in Thailand boasts several landmarks from the four regions and visitors who want to tour the country on a quick trip can rent bicycles or ride trams. For example, the Phra Maha That Chaiya stupa in Surat Thani is influenced by Chandi Pawana in Indonesia and its pediments are engraved with Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara stuccos in different postures.

The Samut Prakan Learning Park and City Observation Tower provides breathtaking views of the Chao Phraya River and an exhibition that highlights the history of the province.

Standing in the heart of the Central Region zone, a replica of Sanphet Throne Hall takes visitors back to the reign of King Phra Baromtrai Lokanat when it served as a ceremonial site for coronations and other important events. Inside, there is a private collection of old porcelain, and silver and gold nielloware as well as spectacular murals of the Hindu god Narayana on view.

Perched atop a hill, the Mondop of the Footprint of the Lord Buddha is the best viewpoint to take in panoramic perspectives of the ancient city. This Ayutthaya-style building is modelled from the original in Saraburi which houses a Buddha footprint from India.

Travel info

Wat Phra Chetuphon Wimon Mangkhalaram is organising Songkran celebrations from today until April 17. It's open from 9am to 10pm. For more information, call 083-057-7100 or visit

The Maha Songkran World Water Festival 2024 at Sanam Luang takes place from today until April 15. For more details, visit

Samut Prakan Learning Park and City Observation Tower is open daily from 10am-5pm (except Monday). For more details, call 098-241-9495 or visit (in Thai).

Muang Boran is hosting Songkran celebrations from Saturday until April 16. Tickets are 200 baht for adults. It's open daily from 9am to 7pm. For more details, call 02-026-8800-9 or visit

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