Celebrate a non-EDM Songkran by the river at Water Festival 2019

If you’re in Bangkok this Songkran to avoid the scourge of traffic and hordes to people in other provinces, we share your feels. But just because some of us have gone out of town (or out of the country to Japan — you know who you are!), Bangkok is as close as ever to being deserted. Our city might even look like this for a few golden days.

The reason Bangkokians are away, if it wasn’t obvious enough, is because of a glorious stretch of public holidays from April 13 – 17 to celebrate Thai New Year. The good news is that there are still plenty of things to indulge in while you soak up the Bangkok heat — cue Water Festival 2019. This might be one of the few remaining treasures of Bangkok’s Songkran that doesn’t involve a combination of deafening EDM music, piles of foam, and giant water guns.

Organizers of the highly celebrated Water Festival are back in 2019 once again to rejuvenate the riverside scenes of Bangkok — and of course, drown the April heat in refreshingly icy splashes of water. And proving to be the pride of the ASEAN community, this year’s Water Festival is also awarded as one of the ASEAN Cultural Year programs from the Ministry of Culture and the  Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Not prolonging this any further, we’ve listed 9 locations to spot at Water Festival 2019 (including a checkpoint worth its hype) — which are all part of cultural heritage sites on Chao Phraya River, according to UNESCO:

Wat Pho (aka Wat Phra Chetuphon Vimolmangklararm Rajwaramahaviharn, but we’d go with the short name) is where you are welcome to do traditional Thai activities including building sand pagodas, watering hands of the elderly for blessings, Siamese stage shows, and pouring water on Buddha sculptures for more blessings.

Water Festival 2019
Photo: Water Festival 2019

Wat Arun (aka The Temple of Dawn) or as tourists know it as ‘1 of the 15 things to see in Bangkok’ according to TripAdvisor, has a few tweaks from Wat Pho — instead of building sand pagodas, you can give offerings to monks and pay respect to the grand monk image of Wat Arun. By the way, there is a replica of an old market to find traditional eats and herbal refreshment.

Water Festival 2019
Photo: Water Festival 2019

Because Wat Kalayanamitra is in a Thai-Chinese community, it makes perfect sense that you can watch a lion dance performance from local troupes. Apart from that special point, visitors can enjoy similar activities and even feed hungry fish by the river.

Celebrate a non-EDM Songkran by the river at Water Festival 2019
Photo: Water Festival 2019

You can come to Wat Prayurawongsawas (or Wat Prayoon if you were telling a confused cabbie) for a slightly different hands-on activity: joining a paper mache workshop. Here, you make small pig paper mache and learn to fold loincloth the Thai way — on top of the regular activities you can do in a temple.

While you agonize over the premiere of Game of Thrones’ last season, instead of going through reruns of previous seasons, we implore you to come out and find something mildly more cheerful like binging on street food and trying some fun temple games (much like carnival games) — as opposed to enduring The Red Wedding again, you know what we mean, GOT fans out there. You can take part in these fun affairs at Tha Maharaj, Yodpiman River Walk, and tourists’ favorite Lhong 1919.

Feel free to show off how pleasant it is to walk along these spots to your fellow Instagrammers and capture the essence of the Songkran celebration along the river.

Water Festival 2019
Photo: Water Festival 2019

Another highlight along the river and a magnet for tourists, Asiatique the Riverfront, will transform itself into a floating market of the early Rattanakosin era. Not only will the setting change, you can dine away to some special treats and bites. The sellers won’t be your typical market sellers, but instead represent boat merchants of the old days — with straw hats and traditional clothing.

In all of these 8 spots, you can find temple fair-related art installations that have been designed only during this special occasion — you got to give props to the folks who work hard when everyone’s mostly on holiday.

A bonus destination to visit from April 13-15 is ICONSIAM, which has partnered with Water Festival to give the riverside community a wondrous Songkran experience — something that is new at the Water Festival this year. See a different version of the floating market at SOOKSIAM, ICONSIAM, G Floor. We promise that you cannot possibly go home hungry (unless Thai food isn’t your cup of tea, in which case, who are you?!).

When Bangkok is your oyster, it’s a great time to get out there, get wet, and stretch your legs (since we finally have some room in the city!) at the Water Festival 2019 — remember it’s only these 3 golden days once a year. We suggest you take the easy route by taking shuttle boats for a convenient hop-on, hop-off experience which will take you to all these 9 stops on the Chao Phraya River.

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