SINGAPORE – Agoda.com, Asia’s leading hotel booking site and part of Nasdaq-listed Priceline Group (Nasdaq:PCLN), is offering fantastic hotel deals in Bangkok and Chiang Mai to celebrate Songkran, the Thai New Year.
The celebration is the biggest holiday of the year in Thailand – Christmas, Thanksgiving, and New Year’s Eve all rolled into one. This year the official celebration days are April 13-15, with a few days tagged on to either end to compensate for the holiday falling on a weekend. It also might be a bit longer or shorter, depending on location – for instance, celebrations in Chiang Mai often go for a full week. Songkran is truly one of those events on a scale that has to be seen to be believed, and it’s hard to imagine that it came from such humble beginnings.
Observed in one form or another for hundreds of years in several Asian countries, it originally celebrated the end of the dry season. In Thailand, it marked the start of a new solar calendar and was a chance for families to get together and celebrate a (hopefully) successful year gone by and pray for a successful year ahead. Visits to temple were a priority, as was the washing of Buddha images with scented water, which was then collected and poured over the hands or shoulders of family elders as a blessing.
Fast forward a few hundred years. While there is still a great emphasis placed on community, family, and temple visits, the most visible part of the celebration is the wild and raucous street parties – giant, no-holds-barred water fights where anyone wanting to stay dry will find it a hopelessly lost cause. The mood is festive, to say the least, and strangers will approach with handfuls of powder to rub into cheeks and hair while yelling “Sawa Dee Bhee Mai!” (Happy New Year!) as water splashes down all around. Luckily, it coincides with the hottest week of the year, so a full-body splashdown is usually a most welcome diversion when temperatures are bumping up against 40 degrees Celsius.
If a trip to Thailand is in the cards for this holiday, there are a few things one must be aware of:
– Do come to any water fights armed with the essentials – water gun (available at any store around this time), plastic bags for wallet/phone, goggles or sunglasses, and clothes that can get dirty.
– Don’t forget that it’s a bad idea for females to wear skimpy clothes. Doing this and jumping into wild, wet crowds that are in full-on party mode is a bad idea in any country.
– Do plan the day carefully. Head out with friends, have a meeting place if the group gets separated, and drink lots of water (just not the stuff that’s being splashed around).
– Don’t expect to go out and stay dry, even in non-party zones. If hit by a stray splash or someone runs up and throws a cup of water without warning, don’t flip out – it’s done in fun and is meant as a blessing.
– Do remember that Songkran is all about enjoying the celebration. It’s never ideal when some jokester shoots a jet of ice-cold water at a crowd or a bit of powder gets smooshed into some eyes, but laugh it off and continue the revelry. After all, this is the Land of Smiles!
As one of the more unique and memorable holidays one is likely to encounter, a trip to Thailand for Songkran is something everyone should do. Take a look at the hotels below and get ready for a wild, wet vacation!
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Grand China Hotel 4*
Enjoy 52% off. Expires December 31, 2013.
Montien Riverside Hotel 4*
Enjoy 30% off. Expires March 31, 2014.
Prince Palace Hotel 4*
Enjoy 60% off. Expires October 31, 2014.
Tai-Pan Hotel 3.5*
Enjoy 50% off your stay. Expires December 31, 2014.
Montien Hotel Bangkok 4*
Enjoy 50% off. Expires October 31, 2013.
Baan Gong Kham Hotel 3*
Enjoy 53% off your stay. Expires December 31, 2013.
Panviman Chiangmai Spa Resort 4.5*
Enjoy 64% off. Expires October 31, 2013.
Kiree Thara Mountain & Lake Side Boutique Resort 4*
Enjoy 60% off. Expires November 30, 2013.
Singha Montra Hotel 4*
Enjoy 55% off. Expires October 31, 2014.
Ruen Ariya Resort 4*
Enjoy 50% off. Expires Feb 28, 2014.