Songkran (Thai New Year)
Songkran is a water festival based on the solar calendar and takes place on April 13th every year. Songkran on Koh Tao is limited to just one day, however elsewhere in Thailand, particularly in bigger cities like Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Phuket, you can expect Songkran to last longer – three days, five days, or even a week!
Songkran is the celebration of Thai New Year and marks the passing of one year into the beginning of the next. The word Songkran derives from Sanskrit, and means ‘to pass’ or ‘to move into’. The original meaning behind the water element was to rinse away the sins from the previous year and enter into the new year fresh and renewed. Over the years things have escalated somewhat, and now the best way to describe Songkran on Koh Tao, or indeed Songkran anywhere in Thailand, is the biggest and best water fight you’ll ever experience in your life!
Songkran on Koh Tao is described by most tourists who experience it as ‘the best day ever’, and it’s the favourite day of the year for most Koh Tao residents. It truly is an unforgettable experience! Celebrations start early, and from the moment you leave your door in the morning, you should expect to get wet. This means being careful with your belongings. Dry bags and dry docks for phones and any other electrical items are recommended, but the best advice is just to leave them at home.
Enjoyed by all ages and nationalities, spending Songkran on Koh Tao is a great opportunity to get involved and celebrate with all of the island’s residents. People flood the streets (literally) with vats of water, giant hoses, water balloons, and super soaker streams. Down on the beach there are more water fights, and every bar has its own special attraction, whether it be a pool party, foam machine, or giant waterslide.
Songkran on Koh Tao is the most popular of all the public holidays and is a drawcard for many visitors, meaning the island is normally very busy. So if you plan to visit and join in the fun, be sure to book your travel and reserve your accommodation in advance, as the island is often at full capacity. Our other top tips for enjoying Songkran on Koh Tao include:
- Top up your sunscreen often – all those water fights mean it washes off easily.
- Drink plenty of water. No doubt you’ll down a few beers throughout the day too, so be aware that you will dehydrate easily running around in the sun.
- Leave as many valuables at home as possible, and don’t bring out anything you wouldn’t be ok with getting soaked.
- Try to avoid driving your rental scooter on Songkran if you can. The party atmosphere and all of that water make conditions more dangerous.