Thais and foreigners are flocking in large numbers to many northern provinces, including Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Nan, to celebrate the Thai New Year holiday.
These provinces are known for their beautiful culture in celebrating the Songkran Festival that officially starts on Friday.
In Chiang Mai, local authorities are expecting about 150,000 visitors, and their spending could amount to Bt1 billion.
Pinnart Charoenpon, director of Chiang Mai Tourism Authority of Thailand, said the province has prepared a special event that allows visitors the opportunity to pour water on Buddha statues for blessings on the occasion of the Thai traditional New Year.
Between Friday and Sunday, the visitors can witness the unique northern-style Songkran celebrations.
The visitors will have a chance to experience the northern tradition of building pagodas of sand.
Visitors are encouraged to wear Thai traditional costumes during the period. Pinnart said anyone could join her office’s contest by following TAT Chiang Mai Facebook page and post their photos wearing Thai-style dresses on the page with hashtags.
Those who received the most number of “like” will receive prizes that will be announced on Sunday.
In Chiang Rai, Governor Narongsak Osotthanakorn visited road checkpoints set up in many areas to minimise road accidents.
The checkpoints have services to provide commuters with food and desserts that would help prevent people from falling asleep behind the wheel.
Meanwhile roads and markets were crowded with people celebrating the festival and shopping for food.
In Nan’s Muang district, Governor Paisarn Wimonrat chaired a religious ceremony in which people could pour blessing water on a sacred Buddha image – Phra Chao Thongthip.
The ceremony was attended by about 1,000 people who also gave alms to 200 monks. After that the governor gave Songkran blessings to the participants.
In Tak, more than 5,000 Myanmar workers queued up in front of the Thai-Myanmar checkpoint in Mae Sot district since early morning to travel back to their home country, taking advantage of the closed business during the festival.
Some of them said they would return to Thailand to work as the payment here was much better than in Myanmar while some others did not plan to return.
A Myanmar worker claimed that about 10,000 from Myanmar could not return home as there were no vehicles to travel from their places to the border.
Pol Colonel Man Rattanaprateep, an immigration police officer, said about 70,000 Myanmar workers had already returned through the checkpoint.
He believed there were many more who had not yet returned home. Officials will do their best to facilitate their travel, he said.