Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably aware of gCircuit’s annual Songkran festival! We’re of course talking about the biggest gay rave in Asia – there’s a reason this year’s festivities had been dubbed ‘4 days of splendour’ before organisers decided to pull the event and put the safety of partygoers first.
Though when things are back to normal next year and you’re only attending one or two nights of gCircuit, there’s plenty more fun to be had within the framework of the Thai New Year celebrations…
Why not, for example, head down to the bustling island of Phuket for a pool party or visit a Buddhist temple for a more traditional celebration? Whatever way you want to do at Songkran 2021, it’s guaranteed to be special!
Party it up at Bangkok’s Silom Road
The area around Silom is normally known as the capital’s financial centre and perhaps the best area in town for LGBT+ nightlife – and as for the latter, things don’t change all that much during Songkran. Head down to Silom for a fun-filled and seriously wild water-splashing extravaganza taking over the streets: the local LGBT+ population gather here for the non-stop parties that take over the neighbourhood for the New Year and trust us when we say you’ll get wet! After all, it’s common for people to climb the area’s many skywalks to get a better view of the party below, and you bet they have water guns on them.
Watch the procession in Chiang Mai
The festivities up in mountainous Chiang Mai are no less spectacular than those of Bangkok, and the city does put on a very special annual display just outside one of its most magical temples, Wat Phra Singh: a colourful and energetic procession including traditional silk costumes, chanting and lots of dance takes over the area, with locals and visitors from all around the world cheering on the performers and celebrating in the spirit of unity. It’s a beautiful tradition that even sees Buddha statues carried down the street and presented to the crowd who wish for good luck. Songkran in Chiang Mai is one-of-a-kind!
Visit a temple and pay your respects
Speaking of the Lord Buddha, it’s a long-established tradition for Thais to visit their local temple over the course of Songkran, to give merit and wash away the sins and worries of the past (which, interestingly, is the idea behind the ubiquitous water-splashing!). If you’re looking for a more cultural experience, why not visit one of Thailand’s quieter temples and join the locals in honouring their ancient traditions? It’s of course advised to be respectful when people give merit and present Buddha statues with flowers, fruits and the like, and thanks to the inviting atmosphere in Thailand’s temples, you’re guaranteed to be welcomed with a friendly smile in return.
Attend the official celebrations in the heart of Bangkok
Much like visiting a quiet temple, attending the official festivities at Sanam Luang, a park just across from Wat Phra Kaew and the Royal Palace, is less about going wild and more about witnessing the charms of a truly unique festival. Though that’s not to say no one’s getting wet here: on the first day of Songkran, a golden statue of the Lord Buddha normally at home in the National Museum, the famous ‘Buddha Sihing’, is shown to the public, who sprinkle it with water. Can’t make it? Don’t worry: the statue remains in place for three days for you to pay your respects!