As Songkran Festival, the traditional Thai New Year, is approaching, many provinces nationwide are preparing various activities to celebrate this festival.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has set aside 30 million baht to support Songkran celebrations in 13 provinces, namely Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Suphan Buri, Ayutthaya, Chon Buri, Samut Prakan, Sukhothai, Khon Kaen, Nakhon Phanom, Nong Khai, Songkhla, Nakhon Si Thammarat, and Phuket.
According to TAT Governor Suraphon Svetasreni, more than 2.7 tourists are expected to travel in Thailand during the Songkran period, from 11 to 16 April. The number represents an increase of 10 percent over the same period of 2012. Out of this number, over two million will be Thai tourists and 678,000 will be international visitors.
The Songkran period is likely to generate about 11 billion baht in tourism income for the country, accounting for an increase of 20 percent. During this period, Thailand is expected to welcome 177 charter flights from such major tourism markets as China, Russia, and Malaysia.
Although the entire celebration period covers one week or more in some rural areas, the highlight of the celebrations is between 13 and 15 April. In 2013, the Government has set the Songkran holiday from 12 April to 16 to promote traditional Thai culture and give a better chance for people living far from their hometowns to visit their families. Songkran Day, 13 April, is also observed as the National Day for Older Persons.
The Ministry of Culture has prepared three events for the upcoming Songkran Festival. The first event, scheduled for 11 April at 2:00 p.m. at the Thailand Cultural Center in Bangkok, will be a ceremony to pour lustral water onto the palms of national artists as a gesture of respect for the elderly.
In the second event, the Ministry of Culture will join hands with Chulalongkorn University in organizing Songkran celebrations from 13 to 15 April, between midday and 9:00 p.m. at Siam Square in Bangkok. It will also feature a fashion show of pha khao ma, a traditional loincloth still widely worn.
The third event will be Songkran celebrations in the Lanna style, to be held at the Three Kings Monument in Mueang district of Chiang Mai, from 13 to 15 April. It will revive Songkran traditions passed on from Lanna, the old kingdom of Chiang Mai.
The Ministry of Culture will launch a campaign to encourage Songkran celebrants to be aware of acceptable conduct and not to cause disturbances to others. They are not allowed to consume alcohol at the events, while safety measures will be stepped up.
Often referred to as the “Water Festival” among foreigners, Songkran has been celebrated as Thailand’s most popular festival since ancient times, and this event may well reflect the essence of “Thainess.” The celebrations feature parades, dancing, and traditional Thai games. People also splash water on each other as a New Year blessing.