Songkran or Water festival in Laos

Meanings: Water festival is one of the traditional festivals of many Southeast Asia countries. The Laotians call it Bunpimary, The Thais calls it Songkran, Cambodians calls it Chol Chnam Thmey and Myanmar people call it Thingvan. The festival is organized with the significance of making people and everything refresh and prosperous. On these days people water each other to bless and wish for favourable weather, a happy New Year. Water festival in Lao is shortly called Bun which means giving alms to get alms. 

 Decorate Buddha before the water festival.
Prepare for decorating a pagoda.

Festival time: Bunpimay holiday often takes palace in 3 days 13, 14 and 15 of April in Buddhist calendar. 

Festival’s customs 

  • The first day of the festival is also the last day of the old year when people clean up their house, prepare fragrant water and flowers. In the afternoon, they gather at a pagoda to pray for a next happy and healthy year and listen to lectures of the monks. They then pick the Buddhist statue up to another apartment during 3 days. The department shall be opened so that all people can come to bath for the statue. Fragrant water after watering on Buddhist statue is brought back, applying on body to get alms.
  • The second day is ignored as it is the transitional time between old year and New Year.
  • The third day or also the last festival day is hustle with lots of activities. Before watering, people give each other best wishes. To express the respects, the young splash water on the old and wish them long lasting and prosperous. They splash water on not only human but assets, cattle, production equipments as they believe that water will clean all the bad things, diseases and bring them a clean and healthy New Year. Who is wetter shall be happier. People build sand towers, decorated with flags, flowers, cloth ropes and splash fragrant water. On these days, people also make some animals back to life including turtles, fish, crabs, birds… to get alms. 
On these days, people also visit each other’s houses. The host then tie a red or green clew on the guess’s hand which is the symbol of happiness and health. The more clews a person gains, the luckier they will be during the New Year.
From 10h to 16h is the merriest time. After 16h, the festival stops.


Water festival is organized nationwide, but it is most crowded in Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng. In Luang Prabang, where exist a lot of temples and serves as a famous tourist site, foreign tourists can be enjoying clearly the festival atmosphere with numerous interesting games. 

Tips for joining water festival 

If you have intension of joining water festival in Luang Prabang, book the ticket right now. From Hanoi, it takes you around 2 hours on a straight flight of Vietnam Airlines. Another choice is coach with bed which departs twice a day from Nuoc Ngam Car Park. 
Iin Luang Prabang, there are lots of hotels and motels for tourists at the rate from $15/night. At the festival time, you should book room in advance to make sure an accommodation. Luang Prabang is the city with the thickest history in Laos with a number of attractions including sacred temples, old quarter, Pak Ou Cave, PhouShi Mountain or night market. Traditional products of Laos are available for sales at these places.
let join in songkhan if you have chance to do it. 
Let come to join the largest festival in Laos with the big buckets of water
and the friendly Laotian friends and wish them a happy New Year.


If you stay in Laos on these festival days, be prepared to receive water wishes. Laotians are very friendly and they will do nothing if you are driving or walking on the street but splash water on you. Don’t be angry as they just want you to be healthy for your whole life and they are healthy as well.