#1 Best Guide: Wan Lai Festival In Thailand

sand pagodas in wan lai festival

Hello, lovely travelers! Am I seeing someone taking an interest in traveling to Thailand in April (from the fact that you are reading this) and still not knowing what to expect?

Well, the first thing you need to be aware of is that unlike the spring weather you may be used to in the States, April in Thailand means one thing and one thing only: hot, hot, and hot! Second, learning some Thai will be very helpful in getting the most local experience. Now, if you feel like that is your call, then waste no time and tag along!

Songkran And Wan Lai Festivals

Under the summery sun of April, there are two popular events you can always expect: Songkran and Wan Lai festivals.

Songkran is the Thai New Year and Thailand’s most well-known festival, taking place from April 13th to 15th every year. It’s a refreshing tradition where Thai locals, as well as tourists from all over the world, come out on the streets to fight each other with the freshness of the water, marking the beginning of the Buddhist calendar. Thanks to Songkran alone, April is probably one of the best months to visit Thailand, as the entire country will be in a festive mode.

However, if you’re going to be in Thailand slightly later than that and would like to know your other fun options, you have come to the right place, my friends! Because Wan Lai festival, which takes place roughly 5 to 6 days after Songkran, will offer you the same kind of fun and drag it to almost the end of April.

Brief History Of Wan Lai Festival

Now, my fellow travelers, let me do the honor of guiding you through everything to make sure you’ll have the best Wan Lai festival experience possible. And our first stop is a brief history class. A-hem! Here we go!

Wan Lai (วันไหล), simply translated as “the flowing day,” was originally known as kor phra sai nam lhai (ก่อพระทรายน้ำไหล), which can be roughly translated as the act of building sand pagodas to let water flow down from them. Considered as the New Year of the seaside people and fishermen, Wan Lai was a tradition that could be found in the east and some parts of central Thailand.

In the past, people would gather together on Wan Lai days to carry sand from water sources into their local temples to build 84,000 cone-shaped sand pagodas (the number of the Dharma gates to enlightenment) and decorate them with colorful flags and flowers. And this sand would later be used by the temples in construction and temple maintenance.

However, things are not quite the same nowadays. With facilitating technologies, people no longer have to carry the sand to the temples. So, what remains are simply the festive spirit of Wan Lai Day, Buddhist activities such as sprinkling water on a Buddha image and making merits on the Thai New Year, and the extension of the Songkran festivities where people come together on the beach to wash the heat away.

Did you enjoy our little history section? No yawning, please, class! Because now we’re moving onto an exciting and crucial part!

5 Tips For Surviving Wan Lai Festival

1. Check The Date And Location Before You Go!

Unlike Songkran with permanent fixed dates, the dates and locations of some Wan Lai events may differ each year. So, do a little bit of research just for your peace of mind and guaranteed fun!

2. Get Yourself Some Colorful Clothes

Oh dear, I really mean it! To truly take in the festive energy, you may need to put yourself in some flower-patterned shirts, neon tank tops, or bright overalls because this is the one time of the year where Thai people walk around with their fashion statement. So choose whatever you feel the most fun in.

3. Keep Your Belongings Safe And Dry

Wan Lai Festival is the extension of the water fight festival, which means you’ll almost certainly get wet. So make sure to buy a waterproof phone pouch to keep your phone and important stuff safe!

4. Choose Your Water Weapon Wisely

You join this festival to have fun, and so do others. So, choose the right weapon while also keeping other people in mind. Water buckets or water guns will always be fine. But make sure to avoid getting a high water-pressure gun because not only can they hurt the person you aim at, but they’ve been banned from being used in water fights for many years.

5. Have Fun But Also Be Smart

Lastly, and most importantly, just have fun! Enjoy the cultural activities and get soaked because that’s the main point of Songkran and Wan Lai. A fun break from our stressful world. However, as it will probably be packed everywhere, potentially with drunk and stoned people, always be smart and take care of yourself.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of my chest and done my part to keep everything enjoyable and safe for you, we can’t have this article without mentioning one of the most important things: where to go.

Where To Go For Wan Lai Festival

You now have a rough idea of what to expect from Wan Lai, so in this part, we’ll check out your best Wan Lai options together. Here, I’ve curated for you a local-approved list so that you’ll have the best, most immersive Wan Lai experience possible.

women dressed in Thai costumes doing Thai dance in wan lai festival

1. Wan Lai Bang Saen At Bang Saen Beach: 16 – 17 April (2024)

Bang Saen’s Wan Lai offers you both traditional Thai New Year experiences: Thai people coming together to make merit and sprinkle water on the Buddha image, and the Songkran celebrations.

Activities: Kor phra sai nam lhai (ก่อพระทรายน้ำไหล) or building sand pagodas, watching traditional shows and sports like muay talay (มวยทะเล) or water boxing, etc.

2. Wan Lai Pattaya In Pattaya City (Central): 19 April (2024)

Whenever Wan Lai festival is mentioned, you can almost be sure that Pattaya will follow because it’s the most famous Wan Lai festival yet.

Activities: Wild water fights and a fun music festival.

3. Wan Lai Phra Pradaeng, Samut Prakan: 19 – 21 April (2024)

Here, you can expect the full Songkran experience since, unlike many other cities in Thailand, people in Phra Pradaeng have been continuing the Raman traditions and hold their Songkran festival later than the usual dates.

Activities: Watching cultural performances and the Mon people’s parades, water fights, etc.

Useful Sentences To Survive Wan Lai

It never hurts to learn a little bit of the language of the country you’re traveling to. Not only will you be able to spark a conversation with a local or even your fellow expat, but you’ll also have a higher chance of getting through an undesirable situation. So here, I have three phrases that will be useful for your Wan Lai days!

1. ____Pai yang ngai?

This sentence is useful for when you’re a bit lost and don’t know how to get to your desired Wan Lai festival location:

How to get to____? ____ ไปยังไงคะ/ ครับ/ จ้ะ____Pai yang ngai ka/ krub/ ja

Note: ____ is replaced by the name of the place that you’d like to go to. And end your sentence politely, depending on your gender or preference. Ka is used by a female. Krub is used by a male, while ja is gender-neutral. Learn more about this here.

2. Mai yak piak

Like Songkran, Wan Lai festival is water-related, so you can almost be certain that you’ll get soaked. However, if there’s an occasion when you would like to stay dry, try this:

I don’t want to get wet.ฉันไม่อยากเปียกChan mai yak piak

Note: I can’t guarantee that they won’t throw water at you anyway.

3. Mai ao nam kaeng

Now, after a long while of being soaking wet, you start to shiver. Someone is about to throw a bucket of water mixed with ice at you, and you don’t like the idea at all. Here’s what you can say:

No ice, please.ไม่เอาน้ำแข็งค่ะ/ ครับ/ จ้าMai ao nam khaeng ka/ krub/ ja

Learn Thai With Ling

You’ve reached the end of the article, so first of all, I hope that you’ve learned all that you were looking for about Wan Lai festival. And also, I would assume that you’ll almost certainly visit Thailand one of these days. Thailand is a charming country full of countless things to do and explore. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to experience all the wonders this country has to offer.

So, why not start now and take the first step to learning more about the Thai language with Ling? Gain access to easy and simplified Thai lessons, and boost your confidence before your trip. Make a quick download on the Play Store or App Store, and get ready to have fun!

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