BANGKOK, April 1, 2010
Thailand's Songkran is when the Buddhist New Year festivities culminate in a three-day nationwide water fight – and is one of the most exciting times to visit the country. To help revelers make the most of Songkran, Agoda – Asia's global hotel booking site and part of Nasdaq-listed Priceline.com – has secured some extra special offers across Thailand for the entire period.
Whether heading 'upcountry' to the provinces, taking a jaunt to Pattaya for a rowdy week-long water-fest or opting to get drenched in the kingdom’s capital, Bangkok, Agoda has great room rates for all. Thailand's national holidays for Songkran this year are from 12 – 14 April (19 April in Pattaya) but for many Thais and travelers the party goes on much longer than that.
Songkran is traditionally celebrated with 'water play'. What originated as a fairly passive ritual has become a national event of epic proportions. Water blessings are symbolic of spiritual cleansing in several religions and play a fundamental part in many Buddhist ceremonies, including weddings and funerals, where they are typically associated with cleaning the spiritual slate by washing away past sins and bad luck.
For Songkran, the act enters a whole new realm. Super-soakers, buckets and hoses are popular methods of administering a 'blessing', while many locals take things to a more advanced level by transforming pickup trucks into mobile drenching platforms. Pretty much from dawn till dusk, no pedestrian or vehicle that enters the soaking zone is safe from the good-natured assaults of the convoys which parade the streets pumping iced water from gallon drums.
A dousing is usually followed by blast of talcum powder to symbolize the chalk markings monks commonly used to denote blessings. To be drenched and covered with talc in this manner is an honor and recipients should accept it with a smile and a greeting of sawasdee bee mai (Thai for “Happy New Year”). The icy drenching often provides a welcome escape from the soaring April heat and it's best to enter the festivities with a firm focus on having fun.
Khao San Road, the famous backpacker street, is home to Bangkok’s biggest Songkran party – one that lasts up to five days. Thais, expats and travelers arm themselves with oversized water guns and buckets and transform the area into a water-themed party zone from which no person emerges dry. Soi Cowboy, Soi Patpong and Silom Soi 4 are also great venues for water play, though visitors in any part of Bangkok can expect to get wet at some point.
Ninety minutes' drive south of Bangkok, the seaside resort of Pattaya often extends Songkran – locally called Wan Lai – into a week-long event. Tens of thousands of people head to the beachfront promenade for the festivities, and parties go on well into the night.
The northern city of Chiang Mai hosts the country’s largest Songkran event where the ring road around the city moat becomes a solid wall of water. On New Year’s Day the monks parade the Buddha images from local temples through the city’s streets and the Tai Pae Gate. Celebrations in Chiang Mai can last up to seven days.
Agoda has a fantastic range of last-minute rates across the country for travelers who want to get in on the action and experience the spectacle of the world’s biggest water fight. Check out the rates below, check the dates and book now!
Shewe Wana Boutique – 3 stars
Agoda rates from USD 113 per night – minimum stay 3 nights.
Rachamankha – 5 stars
Stay 3 nights, pay 2 – rates from as low as USD 116 per night.
Ayatana – 4 stars
NoRates from as little as USD 50 per night, save 15 per cent.
Dusit D2 – 5 stars
Rates from as low as USD 82 per night – enjoy 32% off.
Furama – 3.5 stars
Rates from USD 37 per night, minimum stay 2 nights. Enjoy 20% off.
Siam Bayview – 4 stars
Rate from USD 55 per night, minimum stay 3 nights, enjoy 33% off.
Villa Zolitude – 5 stars
Rates from USD 180 per night – enjoy 20% discount.
Patong Beach Hotel – 4 stars
Rates from as low as USD 91 per night.
Millennium – 4 stars
Rates from as low as USD 112 per night – enjoy 25% off.
AKA Guti – 5 stars
Rates from as low as USD 154 per night, minimum stay 3 nights.
Pattawia – 4 stars
Rates from as low as USD 52 – enjoy 10% discount
Privacy Beach Resort & Spa – 4 stars
Last-minute rate – book within 14 days of check-in for as low as USD 67 per night.
Baiyoke Sky – 4 stars
Book a room in April and enjoy a free upgrade for as low as USD 68 per night, minimum stay 2 nights.
Bliston Suwan Parkview – 4 stars
Book a room in April for as low as USD 63 per night, minimum stay 3 nights and enjoy 10% discount.
Astera Sathorn – 3 stars
Book a room for as low as USD 27 per night, between now and October 31, 2010.