BANGKOK, April 01, 2009
Agoda.com, a popular online travel company specializing in discount hotel bookings in Asia, is planning for Songkran, the Thai New Year celebration, by securing availability and offering a wide range of hot hotel deals in famous Songkran destinations in Thailand. The festival is most heavily celebrated in Bangkok, Pattaya, Hua Hin, Chaing Mai, Samui and Phuket.
Songkran is Thailand’s largest, most popular celebration and is similar to Loy Kratong with water being the focus. The use of water originally began as a demonstration of respect, by gently pouring a small amount of water over another person's hands. Symbolic cleansing still plays a big part in this culturally significant ceremony, however the festival has now evolved from the traditional and taken on a life of its own, escalating into the world’s biggest water fight. Splashing and showering others in water now symbolizes washing away bad luck.
Each year, tourists from all over the world take part in Thailand’s soaking wet fun in the sun. The festival is held in mid-April when the weather is warmest and the celebrations are a sweet relief from the oppressive Thai summer heat. Thailand’s countrywide water fight festival generally lasts for three days, from the 13th to the 15th of April.
Songkran is traditionally a time to celebrate with family, pay respect to elders and express optimism for the year ahead. Bangkok becomes seemingly tranquil with far fewer cars on the usually congested roads as locals return to their hometowns for the celebrations. The exception however is Khao San Road, the backpacker and tourist haven, which becomes jam-packed with both foreign and local water fighters, drenching each other with water guns, buckets, cups, and anything with the capability of containing and throwing water.
Agoda.com is a Singaporean based company with operations in Bangkok and a multinational staff sharing a combined passion for travel. They recently polled their foreign staff asking them to recount experiences and feelings towards Songkran to see how tourists/expats actually perceived the Thai celebration. Those who have experienced Songkran agree it is an amazing festival, unique to this part of the world.
Jean, a Canadian living in Bangkok and working with Agoda, has lived through a couple of Songkran celebrations, said, “It’s one of the few occasions where absolutely everybody is smiling on the streets. And the water fights are so much fun, everyone gets in on it."
A veteran water fighter, Jean added, “The bucket is the best weapon. Nothing beats a sneak attack from behind and pouring the whole bucket on someone’s back while they are completely unaware. And don’t forget to say “Sawadee pee mai krrrab!” in their ear with a big smile as a finishing touch."
Phil, a UK staff member who has been able to experience Songkran in several places throughout Thailand, said, “Thailand is extremely hot during this time of year, and a big water fight in the hottest month makes a lot of sense. This year, I would like to try somewhere different. I have celebrated Songkran three times so far, in Chiang Mai, Bangkok, and Ubon Ratchathani. Every place is different, unique and a lot of fun. I tell my friends at home it’s something they should all experience at least once."
While Songkran in Thailand is very popular, nearby Laos also celebrates the New Year at the same time, called “Boun Pi Mai”. Luang Prabang and Vientiane are recommended for tourists who prefer the much more subdued Laotian celebrations. During the Laos festivals, people tend to ease up on the water fights and focus more on the religious aspects, like bathing images of Buddha in temples. The first train from Nongkai province traveling into Laos recently opened, making it easier to experience the New Year celebrations of both countries.
Waen, a Thai staff member, mentioned "Songkran is a precious time for family. It’s especially meaningful for elders who don’t get to meet with family members that often. The tradition shows how Thais respect and revere their elders. It’s a time to express thanks to those we respect and to be aware of our religious history. I hope Thais remember to promote this part of the tradition to foreign tourists as well as those crazy water fights."
The Thai New Year festival draws about a million foreign tourists to Thailand each year to take part in the celebrations. Agoda is offering special rates for Thailand’s hottest destinations in recognition of the Songkran festival.
Column Residence, Bangkok 4.5-star, rate starting at USD 63 (normally USD 109)
Chaophaya Park, Bangkok 4-star, rate starting at USD 37 (normally USD 63)
Baiyoke Sky, Bangkok 4-star, rate starting at USD 68 (normally USD 118)
Dynasty Grande Hotel, Bangkok 4-star, rate starting at USD 53 (normally USD 92)
I-Residence, Bangkok 3.5-star, rate starting at USD 28 (normally USD 48)
Dawin Nana Hotel, Bangkok 3.5-star, rate starting at USD 42 (normally USD 73)
Aisawan Resort and Spa, Pattaya 4-star, rate starting at USD 54 (normally USD 94)
Best Western Pattaya 3-star, rate starting at USD 43 (normally USD 74)
Dhevan Dara Resort and Spa, Hua Hin 4-star, rate starting at USD 81 (normally USD 140)
Bacchus Home Resort, Hua Hin 3-star, rate starting at USD 48 (normally USD 84)
De Naga Hotel, Chiang Mai 4-star, rate starting at USD 90 (normally USD 155)
Chanthavinh Resort and Spa, Luang Prabang 4-star, rate starting from USD 57 (normally USD 99) 3 night stay discount of 15%
Green Park Boutique hotel, Vientiane 4-star, rate starting from USD 102 (normally 176)
Tourists can secure alternative accommodation for enjoying Songkran in Thailand’s and Lao’s hot cities via Agoda’s website www.agoda.com or contact the Agoda Team via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.