With religious festivals next to strip clubs, ancient temples juxtaposed against modern skyscrapers Bangkok has a lot to offer the curious traveler. Whether you are a reveler, spiritual seeker or looking for some R&R GoNOMAD’s Jean Miller Spoljaric can guide to a great time in Discovering the Heart of Thailand: Songkran Festival and Red Light District Adventures
Thailand’s wide range of activities and attractions, and the fact that it was the only country in Southeast Asia to escape European colonization makes it a premier tourist destination. Located between the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea, the country covers 198,000 sq. miles and has a population of about 65 million people.
From the sun soaked beaches in the south to the Hill Tribe villages in the north, the country has an unlimited number of beautiful locations. My April trip to Thailand was during the Songkran Festival (Thai New Year) and I visited Bangkok and the northern province of Chiang Mai. It proved to be a real blast!
The mountainous northern region borders China and Myanmar (Burma) on the west, Laos and the Mekong River to the east, and Cambodia in the south. From the must-see day and night markets in every rural town to Thai Boxing and the red light districts in the city, Thailand is an eclectic place to visit. The lush, tropical landscape of mountains, rivers, lakes, and the sea between 10 degrees and 20 degrees north of the Equator, made me totally understand why some people come for vacation and consider never leaving!
Songkran Festival = Big Fun in Bangkok! Of the many festivals in Thailand, the Songkran Festival is the most celebrated. It’s widely observed not only in the former Siam, but also in Burma, Cambodia and the Lao State. Songkran is a Sanskrit word in Thai form which means ‘the entry of the sun’ into any sign of the Zodiac.
To all of Southeast Asia, its full name is Maha Songkran, or Major Songkran. This distinguishes it from other Songkran festivals, but the people of Thailand simply call it the Songkran for it is the main one they celebrate. It’s a traditional Thai holiday free of work and labor. Songkran occurs in April between 13th and 15th, and, in certain years, extends to the 16th.
It’s a celebration of the vernal equinox– the beginning of spring. Bring rain gear because they celebrate with lots of water. The Thai people use talcum powder mixed with water to form a paste and smear it all over their bodies for good luck. I ventured down Khao San Road, into the heart of the celebrations.