Time out for a Thai Songkran

BANGKOK, 12 April 2017: Thailand will celebrate the annual Songkran Festival, Thursday 13 April through to 15 April, plus a substitution holiday for workers, Monday 17 April, due to the final day of the Songkran festival falling on a Saturday.

The festive celebration will start with families paying respects to their elders by sprinkling water on their hands Thursday morning.

However, thousands of tourists are visiting Thailand to enjoy the water battles that follow on the remaining days. Festivities take place in every village and town once the traditional ceremonies are over.

Pattaya celebrates the festival a week after the rest of the country and this sometimes comes as a surprise to foreign visitors who have already gone through a week of water throwing elsewhere.

April is one of the hottest months of the year with temperatures reaching 40 degrees centigrade in some parts of the country (Kanchanaburi province). On average the temperatures elsewhere are in the 33 to 35 degree centigrade range.

Humidity is high in Bangkok and in the central plains adding to the discomfort. Visitors are advised to drink plenty of water, the bottled variety not the water thrown around as that is mainly pumped out of rivers and canals.  When touring stay in the shade as much as possible and try to take a long lunch break or siesta to miss the midday scorch.

Unfortunately, Songkran in Thailand is the most dangerous time to be on the roads with thousands injured and close to 400 killed over the five-day holiday.

Despite government warnings, Thais still have the freedom to carry up to six passengers in the cargo well of  their pickup trucks.  The driver and passenger in the front seats of vehicles must belt up. As for the rest of vehicle passengers belting up is recommended but not compulsory.

This year the law is stricter on water throwing. People are forbidden from throwing water from pickup trucks while driving on highways. They are allowed to throw water from pickup trucks in community areas in towns and villages when their vehicles are parked, or moving slowly on local roads, not on highways.

It is reckless and highly dangerous to throw water at motorbikes whatever the speed they are travelling, but it is a common sight that has resulted in fatal accidents.

Drunk driving has been identified as the main culprit for the thousands of accidents during the holiday.

People are encouraged to enjoy the Songkran Festival in a traditional fashion with an emphasis on courtesy, hospitality and conservation of the country’s culture.

The holiday is also celebrated in Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar due to its Buddhist and Hindu origins.

TTR Weekly will resume daily news bulletins on Tuesday, 18 April, when companies throughout Thailand reopen.