Thailand will soon be ringing in the New Year with its annual Songkran festival from April 13 to 15. Instead of pouring Champagne, the decades-old Thai tradition is to pour water on one another, pets and even the local elephant population, to symbolize the washing away of bad luck, spirits and habits. Think of it as a spring cleaning ritual using “blessed” water that’s sometimes scented with fragrant herbs, and often shot from water guns in big street showdowns. Coincidentally, April is Thailand’s hottest month, so all that Songkran water splashing is also simply a very good idea. To join in the celebrations, here are recommendations for four ways to join in the festivities at these unique luxury retreats in Thailand:
Photo Credit: Sri Panwa
Phuket — Make a Splash at the Beach
Four of Asia's top 10 beaches are in Thailand, including two in Phuket and two in Krabi, so head to the shore for splash-down fun at any of several luxury coastal resorts. Sri Panwa is one of the top properties in Thailand (literally), perched high atop a lush hill with 300-degree ocean views. The all-villa resort occupies the entire Cape Panwa Peninsula, making Sri Panwa an oasis of calm and luxury set in one of the finest locations on Phuket.
Set 130 to 196 feet above sea level and along ridges at the tip of the cape, the 52 tropical villas and the Estate’s public areas have contemporary interiors and stunning panoramic views. The villas feel like private homes with fine linens, gourmet mini-bars, handcrafted furnishings, and iPods preloaded with music to set the vibe. The scene is chill and youthful, though surround-sound entertainment systems and DJs make sure a party ambience reigns in the estate’s common areas, especially for Songkran pool parties.
Photo Credit: Lebua State Tower
Bangkok — Cocktails in the Sky
How about welcoming Thai New Year in the country’s capitol city, with a cocktail in hand, while in an open-air bar poised higher than birds fly? Suspended on a precipice 820 feet in the air, Sky Bar at Lebua State Tower has a 360-degree view of Bangkok and the Chao Praya River, and is the highest rooftop bar of its kind in the world. Along with Distil bar another flight up, Sky Bar has reinvented Bangkok’s cocktail scene. But if that’s too crowded and intense for you, try a civilized dinner at Lebua’s Sirocco, the world’s highest rooftop restaurant. If you tend to get vertigo, you might want to take it easy on the dizzying Hangovertini house specialty. Although, the stars of Hangover 2 did just fine when they were here filming at the Lebua hotel in what’s now named the popular Hangover Suite. The 2,800-square-foot, three-bedroom party pad, features four balconies, three bedrooms, two king suites, and one fully-stocked mini-bar, refilled daily. It also offers limousine service and en suite chef catering, but don’t even think of asking for a smoking monkey. Just don’t. Want to dial it down for Songkran? Lebua State Tower’s Splash & Dash package for two nights or more includes a River View Suite, breakfast, BTS Skytrain pass for rapid transit sightseeing, and a festive goodie bag with your own water gun.
Photo Credit: Phulay Bay, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve
Krabi Sala — Tie the Knot
Songkran is a perfect occasion for couples looking for a special wedding date. Phulay Bay, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve has dreamed up its new Midnight Wedding ceremony package where couples can say “I Do” at the stroke of midnight, under starry skies and surrounded by 2,000 candles—Thai symbols of enlightenment and unity.
Thai musicians and native flowers set the scene as the celebration begins with a dinner reception for up to 30 guests, followed by the midnight ceremony and a late-night Champagne celebration complete with a three-tiered wedding cake and the release of wish lanterns into the sky. A brunch the following morning celebrates the couple’s first sunrise together as Mr. and Mrs. The $19,000 wedding includes three honeymoon nights in the Royal Beach Villa, and a wedding-planner to take care of all the important details like hair and makeup for the bride, custom bouquets and corsages, booking a spa treatment to soothe the wedding jitters and more. While the happy couple has some alone time, wedding guests can opt to explore the Similan Islands on a private yacht, indulge in spa treatments, or master the art of raw Thai cooking.
Photo Credit: Four Seasons Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai — Water Cleansings & Water Buffalo
Located in the cultural heart of Northern Thailand an hour flight from Bangkok, the achingly beautiful Four Seasons Chiang Mai offers a poetic escape with its elegant Lanna-style pavilions, villas and private residences set among the terraced rice fields of the peaceful Mae Rim Valley. A special three-night Songkran package is available between April 11 and 17 to offer guests the best of both worlds: the serene quiet of the countryside and shuttle rides into Chiang Mai’s old town to join in the holiday fun. Breakfasts are included, plus a New Year dinner for two at the resort's Thai restaurant, and a two-hour Songkran Spa Transformation treatment for two. And because there’s no way to avoid getting wet in town, Four Seasons Chiang Mai will thoughtfully provide a waterproof “Songkran Survival Kit” to keep your valuables dry during playful water fights. Insider tip: Guests staying three nights at Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle receive a complimentary two-night stay at either Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai or Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui.