Those lucky enough to be travelling Southeast Asia this week are privy to a the area’s largest annual celebration. If you are travelling through Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar or Laos keep your eyes open for signs of Buddhist New Year celebrations. Even the elephants are looking forward to it…
Thailand’s Songkran, Laos’ Bun Pi Mai, Cambodia’s Chol Chnam Tmei and Myanmar’s Thingyan are all celebrated over the course of the next week. Scheduled for the end of planting season, the New Year’s celebrations are akin to an Asian Christmas season.
Workers take time off to head back to their hometowns to spend time with their families — be warned this may mean business closures! For those wanting to get in the spirit, the mild inconveniences of the holidays are outweighed by the opportunity to take in the brightly coloured decorations, jovial locals and the regional customs of the year’s biggest holiday.
Pagodas are a popular destination throughout the region, from Siem Reap to Mandalay, Luang Prabang to Chiang Mai, Buddhists take time to visit their local Pagodaa to make offerings, cleanse their spirits with water and reconnect.
New Year is also time for party. In Thailand, particularly Bangkok and Chiang Mai, Songkran is celebrated with city-wide water fights while Angkor Wat gets illuminated and prepared for a three day dance party.
All are welcome to take part in these celebrations, both big and small. Like the Christmas season, the New Year is a time of generosity, warm smiles and cheer.
From Cambodia, Journeys Within would like to wish everyone a happy Khmer New Year!
Susdei Ch-nam Tmei !
For those looking for the closest celebration in your area, feel free to ask us on twitter @journeys_within!