And whereas New Year’s revellers from around the globe in the Kingdom’s capital and tourist beach destinations are likely to be met by water guns and crowds, the lush jungle and hill tribe culture of northern Thailand’s Golden Triangle offers a serene, mystical age old Buddhist merit making and blessings, as well as traditional festivities to wish family and friends “Sawasdee pee mai” (Happy New Year in Thai).
Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort is home to Asia’s premier Elephant Camp. Spread over 160 acres of bamboo forest, rice paddy fields, countryside and indigenous gardens, the natural retreat resides in the heart of the Golden Triangle, overlooking the fabled convergence of Thailand, Myanmar and Laos and two rivers. Making the most of the legendary setting, all guests stay on a Discovery Package which combines luxury accommodation, all-inclusive benefits, full board gourmet dining, and a daily choice of signature experiences.
The resort’s exclusive Songkran Festival offering kicks off on Sunday, April 13th with Tak Bart traditional offerings to monks and a Buddha statue water blessing ceremony. Thailand’s most revered national symbol, the elephant, plays an important role in culture, religion and tradition, and these gentle giants are all around at Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort. Their participation in a long drum parade around the resort’s ground and water splashing with guests are sure to delight the young and young at heart alike. The first day of Songkran festivities will conclude with a sand pagoda ritual followed by a traditional Thai Lanna Market style Kantoke dinner.
The following day will see guests leaving the resort in the afternoon to collect sand at the Sob Kok Pier to present to monks at nine temples in the nearby Chiang Saen. The tradition for Thai Buddhists to take sand to their local temple during Songkran is a form of merit making. The act is a symbolic way of replacing any soil or sand that may have been removed unwittingly on the shoes of temple visitors as they left the temple grounds on their previous trips during the year. These sand pagodas are often topped with colourful pennants or flags which may depict the animals of the Thai zodiac. Parades and sand building competitions also take place in some locations in Thailand and it is a colourful side to the Songkran Festival that is often overlooked by overseas visitors.
On Tuesday, March 15th, guests can join monks from Chiang Saen who will perform various traditional blessing ceremonies around the resort. Related to the water splashing is the ritual of tying strings around the wrists of others and expressing good wishes for the New Year. This is one of the most charming events of Songkran and one that a person should show great appreciation for when approached by another person offering to tie a string around your wrist. Expect to have as many as 30 strings on each wrist from different people, all of which are to be left on until they fall off of their own accord. Guests may also encounter a person with a small silver bowl filled with a white powder or pasty substance – this is one of the oldest Songkran traditions. The white paste is a sign of protection and promises to ward off evil. The person with the paste is often older and will apply the paste to various parts of the face, neck and torso of others. One is expected to leave this paste on until
it washes off of its own accord, and while there is a tendency to shy away from this paste because it looks like it might ruin the clothes, it is water soluble and will not harm materials.
Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort’s Songkran festivities will conclude on Wednesday, March 16th with a picnic at an ancient temple and joining other New Year’s revellers in Chiang Sean for the playful side of Songkran when the water guns come out and elephants use their trunks as natural water guns during a street parade presided over by the town’s Governor.
Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort’s all-inclusive Discovery Package during the Songkran Festivities starts from THB 35,000 per room per night. The rate excludes service charge and applicable Government taxes. The rate includes full board gourmet dining and a daily choice of signature experiences, including a Spice Spoons Cooking School experience, an Anantara Spa treatment and an elephant activity such as mahout training, elephant learning and elephant trekking.
The Discovery Package also includes a host of convenient and tempting benefits. Tickets to the Opium Museum, located just opposite the resort, enable guests to learn about the region’s infamous drug trading days and successful regeneration projects. Full board all day dining commences with an international buffet breakfast on a terrace with misty Golden Triangle views. For lunch and dinner guests may dine at any of the resort’s three restaurants and bars. Authentic Thai and Italian restaurants are accompanied by a colonial bar and lounge, where travellers reminisce their escapades over an international menu, either inside around a blazing fire or outside by the stunning infinity pool. Unlimited all day beverages include healthy drinks, international house wines, local beers, imported spirits and classic cocktails.
Thai residents qualify for a 30 percent discount on the Discovery Package for reservations on March 13th, 14th and 15th.
For further information or reservations visit www.goldentriangle.anantara.com, call +66 53 784084 or email firstname.lastname@example.org