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Songkran Festival

Each April, during Thai New Year celebrations (Songkran), the country becomes a three-day street party of water fights. Participants go armed with cups, buckets, and water guns, and tourist centers like Khao San Road are packed with hordes of drenched merrymakers. Traditionalists complain that it's a far cry from the festival's origins—it began as a genteel bathing ritual to honor elders. For those seeking less raucous revelry, neighboring Cambodia and Laos also celebrate the holiday, in a slightly gentler manner. If you really want quiet, spend the new year in Phnom Penh, which empties as residents head to their home villages for the holiday. Cambodians, too, will sprinkle you with water—and then perhaps invite you home to eat a New Year's feast with the family.

Updated: 2014-03-04

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