Cultural activities and water fights marked the start of the Songkran festival, as tourists and local residents began celebrations for the Thai New Year.
Thais celebrate the New Year festival with a four-day long holiday from April 13-16.
Many activities were organised across the country on the first day of the celebrations on April 13, especially in major tourist attractions including capital Bangkok, which has emerged as one of the best spots in the country for traditional celebrations.
Khao San Road, always a major draw for tourists, reverberated with joy and cheers with thousands of revellers getting into friendly water fights, although this year no entertainment activities will be held there.
Khao San Road usually hosts the largest water-fighting festival internationally, but this year organisers will skip entertainment activities in order to prepare the road for the coronation ceremony of HM King Maha Vajiralongkorn to be held early next month.
In business district Silom Road, the celebrations started around noon on Saturday. Tourist police expect thousands of tourists to join the event this year.
The road will be closed from noon on Saturday until Monday for people to engage in water fights.
Not far from Silom, in the Siam Square area on Rama I Road, revellers celebrated the water festival under the theme “White Songkran”, or no powder, no revealing dress, no undressing and no alcohol.
In front of CentralWorld shopping complex on Ratchaprasong Road, celebrations were held under the theme alcohol-free Songkran.
A cultural feast
Elsewhere upcountry, Chiang Mai, the capital city of the North is another prime spot for tourists and it is one of Thailand’s largest venues for Songkran celebrations.
Although the temperature was almost 40 degrees Celsius, thousands of foreign tourists, dressed colourfully and carrying water guns, gathered with local residents at Tha Pae Gate, one of the most famous landmarks in the province on Saturday, to celebrate the event.
In the Northeast region, Khao Niew Road or Sri Chan Road in the Muang district of Khon Kaen province is the main venue to celebrate the festival.
Isaan’s largest Songkran celebrations kick off early with a cultural parade and showcases at various spots around Khon Kaen town. The main highlight is the water splashing event in the evening, which brings a flood of tourists and residents from all over Isaan to mark the occasion and create the famous “human wave” in which thousands take part.
In the South, Songkhla’s Thepa district is facing shortage of water during the drought season hence the traditional celebrations have been scaled down to save water.
Water is filled in basins, in which six children can play, to prevent any wastage.
In some places, the New Year was ushered in in a more religious way.
In the northeastern Nong Khai province, the Nong Khai Grand Songkran Festival is held on the morning of April 13 every year.
The faithful join the beautiful procession, sprinkling water on the sacred Luang Pho Phra Sai at Wat Pho Chai.