Every year people in Thailand await Songkran, the country's longest holiday, with a great sense of anticipation. Here are some of the highlights planned nationwide this year.
BANGKOK (April 12-15)
The opening ceremony will take place April 12 during 6pm-9pm at the Wat Arun temple.
- Songkran rites representing four regions of the country will take place at Sanam Luang near the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.
- Traditional splashing of water where participants will be wearing traditional Thai costume, venue: Khao San Road.
- A spate of activities presented by communities living in and around the Bang Lamphu area; venues are Santi Chaiprakarn Park, Phra Athit Road and Wisut Kasat on April 12-13.
- Offering of prayers at the nine royal temples around Rattanakosin Island from April 11-15 between 9am-6pm: they include Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Wat Pho, Wat Suthat, Wat Sa Ket, Wat Bowon Niwet, Wat Chana Songkhram, Wat Rakhang, Wat Arun and Wat Kalayanamit.
- or details, ring the Events Planning Division of the Tourism Authority of Thailand at 02-250-5500 ext 3470 to 3 or its call centre at 1672.
AYUTTHAYA (April 13-14)
- Join the grand Songkran procession by riding elephants. The procession begins at 2pm from the old city centre and you can douse revellers with water while riding your mount. For details, call the Education Division of the Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya municipality at 035-252-168.
RATCHABURI (April 12-16)
- Enjoy Songkran at Siam Cultural Park which will be showcasing various activities, including handicraft making, or enjoy exploring the park's leafy environment. For details, call 032-381-401 to 4 or visit http://www.scppark.com.
PHETCHABURI (April 12-20)
- Phra Nakhon Khiri Palace is the main venue of celebrations from April 14-16. Moreover, there will be ox-cart racing in categories such as speed and beauty in the field at the entrance to Wat Tham Rong, Ban Lat, Phetchaburi.
- Other fun activities include contests involving catching pigs with bare hands, wrestling with bulls, climbing palmyra trees and other events.
PATTAYA (April 18-19)
- At 8am on April 19 there will be a procession along the beach in which spectators can bathe Buddha statues, followed by fun games, art and cultural performances, Miss Songkran pageant, rice harvesting contest and so forth. For details, call Pattaya City at 038-371-116 to 9 or TAT's Central Region III Office at 038-427-667, 038-428-750.
BANG SAEN (April 16-17)
- Celebrations feature the offering of alms to monks, paying homage to the elderly, folk competitions and splashing water along the beach at Bang Saen, and on April 16 there will be a competition involving the building of chedis from sand.
NONG KHAI (April 12-18)
- The northeastern province is staging Thai-Lao Songkran Festival at Wat Pho Chai. The highlight is a food street and on April 13 at 7am you can join a parade featuring a statue of well-known Thai-Lao monk, Luang Pho Phra Sai. For details, call the Nong Khai provincial office at 042-412-678 or TAT's Northeastern Region V Office at 042-325-406/7.
CHIANG MAI (April 12-15)
- The Ministry of Tourism and Sports will kick off the celebrations April 12 at 7am at the Royal Flora Garden (Ratchaphruek) by offering rice alms to 99 monks. On April 13 at 2pm there will be a procession from Naowarat Bridge to Wat Phra Sing featuring bathing rites for Phra Phuttasihing and a Miss Songkran beauty contest. For details, call the municipality at 053-259-000 or TAT's Northern Region I Office at 053-248-604, 053-248-607.
SUKHOTHAI (April 8-12)
- The highlight is a procession of 30 elephants crossing the Yom River to Si Satchanalai Historical Park at 3pm. For details, call the park office 055-671-466, 055-679-153 or TAT's Northern Region III Office at 055-252-742/3.
From www.bangkokpost.com THANIN WEERADET