What is it?
Observed most famously in Thailand, but also in Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and north-east India, Songkran is the celebration of the Buddhist Lunar New Year.
When is it?
While the dates change depending on the lunar cycle, Songkran is now officially held from 13 to 15 Apr in most of the countries listed above.
Traditional activities include making merit by giving alms to local monks and pouring water on Buddha statues to symbolise the cleansing of sins. These customs have now morphed into wilder water fights – where people take to the streets armed with water pistols, hoses and buckets.
Chiang Mai has a distinctive take on Songkran. Activities start on 12 Apr, when the revered Phra Buddha Sihing statue is taken on a vibrant procession through the city. The next day sees locals visiting Wat Prasingh temple to construct sand pagodas, a symbolic way of making merit. 14 Apr is when the water fights commence in earnest, and they continue into the next day.
Get a waterproof or Ziploc bag to keep your smartphone and camera safe from the inevitable drenching.
This article originally appeared in the April 2017 issue of Silkwinds magazine.