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25 Mar, 2014

Time to Show Support: Visit Thailand for Songkran, Malaysia for Easter

A friend in need is a friend indeed. Today, two ASEAN countries (Malaysia and Thailand) need as many friends as they can get. There is no better time than now to show them friendship and support.

Thailand is recovering from a three-month political crisis. It’s not yet over but common sense has prevailed and a lull has set in. The Songkran Thai New Year holiday break will be taken during April 12-15 but there will be a lot of fun and frolic for many days both before and after.

The tragic disappearance of Malaysian Airlines MH 370 has been a shock to the entire system. It should not lead to a loss of confidence and commensurate decline in visitor arrivals. As the Easter Good Friday long weekend will be marked between 18 – 20 April in many parts of the world, that would be a good time to take a break in Malaysia.

Combine those two holidays, and it becomes possible to visit Thailand and Malaysia for a good back-to-back summer break or business-cum-leisure event. The two countries boast some of the world’s most spectacular beaches, rainforests, national parks, hotel facilities, cuisine and shopping facilities, all backed up by world-class transportation infrastructure and visa-free access for citizens of many countries.

Right now, both need help and support. Here are two media releases from both the Tourism Authority of Thailand and Tourism Malaysia that should provide some food for thought and get the ball rolling.

Thailand gears up for traditional Thai New Year (Songkran) fun

Bangkok, 18 March, 2014The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is joining Thai people nationwide in marking the most important celebration of the Thai lunar calendar, the New Year Songkran Festival between 5-20 April, with unique activities and festivities that pay tribute to the role of water in Thai culture and society.

For centuries, the Songkran Festival has been observed as a symbol of hospitality, love and the importance of maintaining strong relationships within families, communities, and society as a whole. Timed to coincide with the Aries period on the astrological chart, the auspicious occasion is intended to help people cool off from the mid-summer heat, show respect to family elders and receive their blessings and pray for near and dear ones who have passed away.

Sand pagodas are built as a way of making merit, young people and children enjoy water fights and perhaps most importantly, a special cleaning day is held in homes, towns and villages nationwide. This greatly contributes to the sense of community.

Mr. Thawatchai Arunyik, Governor of TAT said, “Though a distinctly Thai celebration, Songkran has become popular with people from around the world who love coming to Thailand for this, sometimes boisterous, often moving festival.

“This is a special time when families travel long distances to spend time together, perform traditional merit making ceremonies at the temples and reconnect with loved ones. Songkran allows everyone to take a well-deserved break and TAT wants to ensure that both Thais and foreigners alike enjoy a happy and memorable Songkran.”

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This year, the date of the Maha Songkran or the ‘New Year’ is set for 13 April, when day and night are of equal length. This will be followed by Nao Day (iddle day) on 14 April, and the New Year itself on 15 April.

The Joyous Songkran Splendours, specially organised by TAT and local organisations from the public and private sector, will take place in the following locations:

  • Khao San Road, Bangkok, 13-15 April 2014, 10.00-23.00 hrs.
  • Silom Road, Bangkok, 13-15 April 2014, 10.00-00.00 hrs.
  • Around the City Moat, Chiang Mai, 12-16 April 2014, 09.00-22.00 hrs.
  • Pattaya (North, Central and South Beach), Lan Bodhi Park Na Kluea and Chon Buri, 11-20 April 2014, 09.00-00.00 hrs.
  • Khao Nieo Road, Khon Kaen, 5-15 April 2014, 10.00-20.30 hrs.
  • Patong Beach, Phuket, 12-13 April 2014, 10.00-22.00 hrs.
  • Hat Yai Midnight Songkran at Nipat Uthit 3 Road, Sanehanusorn Road and Wat Mahatta, 11-15 April 2014, 10.00-23.00 hrs.
  • Songkran Ko Samui (Chaweng Beach), 13 April 2014, 09.00-22.00 hrs.

Here are some of the other most interesting locations for foreign visitors:


  • Songkran Wisutkasat: Get soaked at Wisutkasat (Bang Khun Phrom ntersection), under the Rama 8 ridge, 13-15 April.
  • Banglamphu: Join Bangkok’s young people in wearing traditional Thai attire and enjoy merit making and cultural performances at Suan Santi Chaiprakan, Phra Athit Road, 13-15 April.
  • Lan Khon Mueang: Merit making and fun in front of Bangkok City Hall, 13-15 April.

The North

  • Songkran ‘Song Nam Oi Tan’ in Sri Satchanalai, Sukhothai: Beauty contests, a vibrant parade and cultural activities at Phraya Li Thai Monument and Si Satchanalai Historical Park, 6-16 April.

The Central, Eastern and Western regions

  • Sand pagoda ceremony on Lai Day, Bang Saen District, Chon Buri: Cultural activities, including sand sculpture contests along Bang Saen beach, 16-17 April.
  • Songkran in the ancient capital city, Ayutthaya: Probably Thailand’s most unique Songkran celebration with elephants joining the fun. In front of TAT Ayutthaya Office, 13-15 April.
  • Songkran in Sangkhlaburi, Kanchanaburi: A traditional Mon-style Songkran celebration, which differs greatly from those elsewhere, at Wat Wangwiwekaram, 13-18 April.
  • Songkran in Phra Pradaeng, Samut Prakan: Meet the locals, mostly ethnic Mon, resplendent in traditional outfits. Make merit, join a colourful parade and take part in fun activities in front of the Phra Pradaeng District Office, 18-20 April.
  • Songkran Splendours, Suphan Buri 2014: A colourful Songkran procession from 10 districts, beauty contests and concerts, in front of Suphan Buri Bus Station, 12-14 April.

The Northeast

  • Pleasant Songkran, Thai-Lao’ New Year, Nakhon Phanom: The joint Thai-Lao Songkran festival showcases the cultures of seven different ethnic groups in Nakhon Phanom province. Join in merit making by offering sticky rice to monks by the Kankrao Market, 12-15 April.
  • Songkran in Renu District, Nakhon Phanom: Watch the famous traditional dance called ‘Ram Phu Tai’, together with a magical ‘Bai Sri’ ceremony where locals welcome visitors by tying a small string on their wrists, 12-15 April
  • Thailand-Laos Friendship Songkran, Nong Khai: Get a sense of history at the first Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge, bathe Luangpho Phra Sai, the highly-revered Buddha image of the Nong Khai people and experience a merit-making ceremony at Wat Pho Chai, Nong Prachak Road, 6-18 April.

The South

  • Songkran ‘Nang Dan’ Parade, Nakhon Sri Thammarat: Watch the spectacular Nang Dan cultural procession, join the locals in paying homage to Phra Maha That Chadi Nakhon Si Thammarat, and purify the Phra Buddha Sihing at Suan Si Thammasokarat and Ho Phra Shiva, 12-14 April.

Top tips to get the most out of Songkran

  • In the morning, make merit and listen to monks sermons to gain their blessings. As this is a New Year festival, temple activities are the most important aspects of the celebration.
  • To purify the Buddha or other statues, water should not be poured directly onto the head, rather on other parts of the statue’s torso.
  • The custom of pouring water onto the hand of elders’ (people above 60 years old), is to show respect and seek their New Year blessings.
  • Water used to splash on others should be clean or mixed with Thai traditional fragrances. Avoid throwing water aggressively or using high-pressure water guns or hoses.
  • Women should be wary of wearing tight clothes or ones that are light in colour and/or made of thin fabric. When wet, such garments can become quite revealing, raising the risk of sexual harassment. There have been complaints about this in past years.

Fast Facts

The Songkran festivities make April one of the most important months in the Thai tourism calendar. In April 2013, Thailand welcomed a total of 2,013,012 international visitor arrivals, representing a 19.38 per cent increase over April 2012. The top 10 markets in April 2013 were China, Malaysia, Russia, Japan, Korea, Australia, India, United Kingdom, Vietnam and Lao PDR.


PUTRAJAYA, 20 March 2014 – April is a delightful month for music enthusiasts and water sport lovers as there will be a string of exciting events throughout the month ranging from drum performance and music festival to deep sea fishing and kayak challenge. Here are some highlights of the month:


A new musical event is making its debut in the East Coast of Malaysia! Claimed to be the mini version of the Rainforest World Music Festival in Sarawak, the Kuantan Music Festival 2014 promises two magical evenings in an idyllic beachfront garden set amongst palms and lawns facing the South China Sea!

Renowned Malaysian and international musicians namely Akasha (Malaysia), Rio Sidik Quartet (Indonesia), The Art of Fusion (Germany) and T-Bone Ska (Thailand) will be bringing a mix of acoustic, blues, jazz, fusion and world music to the stage.

Organiser: Ministry of Tourism and Culture Malaysia

Date: 4 – 5 April 2014

Venue: Holiday Villa Beach Resort & Spa, Cherating, Pahang

Contact: +6 019 – 9329777, Crocodile Rock Productions Sdn Bhd

Website: www.kuantanmusicfestival.com. Email: kuantanmusicfestival@hotmail.com


In conjunction with the birthday of the Sultan of Perak Darul Ridzuan, the Royal Belum World Drums Festival 2014 (RBWDF 2014) promises a great impact and satisfaction by showcasing the multi-cultural facet of Malaysia using a combination of traditional and modern musical instruments.

Highlights of the event include the state and national-level drums competitions, Experience Zone (to experience the drum-making process), Drum Workshop (to get a taste of drum-playing with Drum Circle), and Social Media Zone (to share experiences on social media networks throughout the RBWDF 2014).

Feel the vibrant and thrilling beat of international drummers and percussionists from as far as Brazil, Egypt, Jamaica and Korea!

Organiser: Ministry of Tourism and Culture Malaysia

Date: 5 – 19 April 2014

Venue: Dataran Ipoh, Ipoh, Perak.

Contact: 1300 88 5050

Website: www.facebook.com/royalbelumworlddrumsfestival


In conjunction with the Melaka World Heritage City Anniversary Celebration, the Malay Archipelago Drums Festival 2014 will display the beauty of drum rhythm dances characterised by the unique Malay Archipelago cultural tradition.

This event sees participation by hundreds of drummers and percussionists, dancers, and cultural activist from various countries including Thailand, the Philippines, Cambodia and Madagascar. It is an event initially held to encourage young Malaysians to engage with their heritage.

Organiser: Melaka Historical City Council

Date: 9 – 16 April 2014

Venue: Dataran MBMB, Melaka

Contact: +6 06 281 6569

Website: http://www.mbmb.gov.my/

Transport to the lost world of heart-thumping tunes!

Penang World Music Festival (PWMF) 2014 is calling out to all music lovers with authentic musical experience – a fusion of traditional and contemporary music performing by an array of renowned local and international musicians.

The two-day affair will start from 2pm with various art and music workshops before the main event kicks off at 6pm. There will also be a festival bazaar on-site, offering a wide selection of food and beverages, souvenir items, handicrafts and the performers’ CDs for festival-goers.

Organiser: Penang State Tourism Development and Culture Office

Date: 12 – 13 April 2014

Venue: Quarry Park, Penang Botanic Gardens, Pulau Pinang

Contact: +6 016 4110000

Email: info@visitpenang.gov.my

Website: www.penangworldmusic.gov.my


Enjoy a great splashing time at the largest event in the federal territory of Labuan – the Labuan Water Festival 2014 marks its 18th year with a host of fun-filled exciting activities.

Go adventurous, ride the waves, defy odds and be a champion at the Labuan International Deep Sea Fishing Tournament, Cross Channel Swimming Challenge, Kayak Sprint Challenge, Labuan Round Island Kayak Challenge and Coastal Fishing Competition!

Organiser: Ministry of Tourism Labuan

Date: 25 – 27 April 2014

Venue: Labuan International Sea Sport Complex, Labuan

Contact: +6 087 422 622

Website: http://www.motourlabuan.com/