CHIANG RAI – Officials in Thailand have ordered that water-throwing activities during Songkran be confined to designated zones in all major provinces.
Alcohol is to be banned in areas where water fights are expected, officials said.
Splashing activities will be allowed in the municipal area, where pick-up trucks are permitted to enter carrying revellers as well as tubs filled with water.
However, water-throwing from the back of pick-ups will be banned along major roads and highways, in compliance with the government’s order, according to the provincial authorities.
Community checkpoints manned by volunteers will also be set up in villages in provinces to encourage motorists not to drink and drive to promote safe driving, according to the Thai Health Promotion Foundation (ThaiHealth).
Checkpoints can also double as rest stops for motorists who are tired during long drives.
In Chiang Rai officials have planned the main activities to be held at Chiang Rai Beach. They revised their main activities schedule which originally started activities on the 11th but now start on the 12th and end on the 13th.
Songkran in Chiang Rai is a great opportunity to join in with the Thai people in the water fun. Just get down to Jet Yod Road and join any one of the bar crews who will provide you with buckets, water pistols or what ever.
There’s live music, especially from Sam’s Cat Bar where the big jungle drum will be on the street setting the beat. Or get out of town and see how Songkran is celebrated in the countryside.
On Songkran Day, get up early in the morning to watch and food and daily needs being offered to the monks at the temples. Go back to the temple at midday to witness an offering of blessed water and the changing of the Buddha’s robes.
In the afternoon you can watch the image of the Buddha paraded through the streets and see the Miss Songkran beauty festival parade. In the evening there are live music performances and the judging of Miss Songkran.
Amphoe Chiang Saen holds a fantastic festival of flowers at Thai New Year complete with dragon boat races.
If you happen to be staying at the Anantara Golden Triangle resort you will get to participate in the drum and street parades around the grounds of the resort, get a special Songkran blessing from a monk, visit a local temple for a Songkran presentation of a sand pagoda and have a traditional Khantoke style dinner.
In Chiang Mai, Songkran is often called Prapeni Pi Mai Mueang and lasts five days. Highlights include the procession of Chiang Mai’s prominent Phra Buddha Sihing image as well as bathing the image, and taking part in a parade bringing sand and Sali (the Bodhi tree) clutches to temples, cultural events and performances.
Chiang Mai has perhaps the biggest official Thailand water festival parade, when the statues are brought out of the temples and paraded through the streets to celebrate this auspicious time in the Thai lunar calendar.
You can join in this parade by gently pouring water over the arms and legs of the Buddha, but do so respectfully and don’t pour it on the head of the Buddha.
One reason why Chiang Mai probably celebrates Songkran more vigorously than other places in Thailand is that many people from Chiang Mai go off to work in Bangkok and other cities, so this is a chance to come home and celebrate with their friends and families. A lot of Thais also travel to Chiang Mai just to be part of the celebrations there.
Meanwhile, the popular tourist spot of Khaosan Road in Bangkok is expected to be less noisy during Songkran this year as authorities have issued a directive that the celebrations in the capital be softer in light of the mourning period following the death of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej last October.
Police and military officers also plan to set up checkpoints to monitor large crowds during the festival, said an adviser to the Khao San Road Business Association.
Bandit Sonphaisan, deputy manager of ThaiHealth, said measures were needed to reduce the number of road accidents linked to drink driving.
The number during Songkran dropped to 34% last year from 39% during the same period the previous year, he said.
Apart from the regulations on water-throwing, motorists over Songkran will also be checked to see whether they are wearing seat belts.
Also yesterday, the Pollution Control Department has warned people to take care when using water from natural sources like ponds or canals.
PCD chief Jatuporn Buruspat said people should not let water get into their eyes, nose, ears or mouth to prevent water-borne diseases.
See Songkran Chiang Rai 2016