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Published: 10 April,2024 | Updated: 10 April,2024
What is the significance of Myanmar Water Festival and how to celebrate it

The Significance of Myanmar Water Festival

The Myanmar Water Festival, locally known as Thingyan, is one of the most significant and widely celebrated events in Myanmar. The following are some significant realities about the festival;

Cultural Significance: Thingyan marks the traditional Myanmar New Year and is celebrated with great willingness and enthusiasm across the country. It usually falls in mid-April, and the 17th of April is the first day of the Myanmar New Year.

Water Symbolism: Water is the central theme of the festival, symbolizing the washing away of the previous year’s misfortunes and sins and welcoming the new year with a fresh start. People engage in water fights, wetting each other with water from buckets, pipes, and water guns.

Religious Observances: The festival also has religious significance, with Buddhists visiting pagodas and monasteries to make offerings, listen to sermons, and perform merit-making activities. It’s a time for spiritual reflection and renewal.

Street Celebrations: Streets across Myanmar transform into lively water-splashing zones during Thingyan. People of all ages participate in the events, dancing to music blaring from speakers, enjoying street food, and engaging in friendly water battles.

Community Unity: Thingyan brings communities together, fostering a sense of unity and friendship as people join hands to celebrate the new year. It’s a time when social barriers are relaxed, and people from all walks of life come together to enjoy the celebrations.

Traditional Customs: Traditional customs and ceremonies are observed during Thingyan, including the pouring of scented water over Buddha images, symbolic cleansing of homes and possessions, and the offering of food to monks and elders.

Pandal Decorations: Attractively decorated pandals or stages are set up in towns and cities, featuring colourful displays, performances, and cultural shows. These pandals serve as focal points for community gatherings and entertainment.

Modern Adaptations: While Thingyan has deep traditional roots, it has also evolved with modern influences. In urban areas, there are concerts, dance parties, and other modern forms of entertainment alongside traditional celebrations.

Tourist Attraction: Thingyan attracts both domestic and international tourists, drawn by the vibrancy and exuberance of the festivities. It’s a unique cultural experience that offers visitors a glimpse into Myanmar’s rich heritage and traditions.

Generally, Thingyan is a joyous celebration that expands the spirit of renewal, unity, and prosperous community in Myanmar.  (Source: Global New Light of Myanmar By Dr Than Lwin Tun)

Thingyan in Myanmar: Water Festival for New Year 2024

If you visit Myanmar in the middle of April, you may experience a distinct New Year - the Thingyan Festival (Water Festival). It is one of the biggest festivals in Myanmar by the locals, with many activities to participate in. To plan a perfect Myanmar tour with Thingyan experience, here is everything you need to know.

What Is the Thingyan Festival?

Today, the Thingyan festival is a festival that makes family members reunite and celebrate the new year. People spray each other with water soaked in Pattra leaves during the celebration to chase away any evil spirits and ill luck, as well as to express good wishes and expectations for the New Year.

Thingyan has an unusual genesis story dates back over 900 years to a Buddhist adaptation of a Hindu fable. It's about Thagya Min, a Hindu divinity. Thagya Min won a bet with King Arsi, and the king was beheaded. However, an elephant's head was mysteriously on the king's body. The monarch's skull was so powerful that if thrown into the sea, it would dry up, and if thrown into the sky, it would ignite. So Thagya min commanded Princess Devis to carry it every year in turn in case the world ended. Every year, when Princess Devi passes over King Arsi's skull to another Princess Devi, there is a ceremony called Thingyan.

When Is Thingyan in 2024?

Locals use the Burmese Lunisolar calendar to calculate the Thingyan Festival. Usually, it will be held every year from April 13 to April 16. And Thingyan 2024 will be the same.

Differences Between Songkran and Thingyan

When you hear about a water festival, you may think of Thailand's Songkran Festival (Thailand's Water Festival). Thingyan and Songkran are quite similar. During both festivals, people pour water on each other, participate in parades, honor elders, and engage in other activities. Families also gather to welcome the New Year. Their dates are also close, generally starting on April 13 every year and lasting around three days.

The difference is that the first day of Songkran is traditionally marked by a Buddha bath, followed by a boisterous water-splashing celebration. At the same time, the bathing of Buddha is held on the last day of the Thingyan Festival. Burmese people will build up a shelf next to the moat and connect a rubber tube to spray water, which differs from the customary Thai way of splashing water with a water basin.

Furthermore, the Songkran water splashing celebration is just one day, but the Thingyan water splashing event may take two days.

How to Celebrate the Festival of Thingyan Like the Locals?

Every day of the four-day Thingyan festival is jam-packed with interesting events.  If you wish to celebrate Thingyan traditionally, please adhere to the following daily arrangements during the festival.

Day 1: Thingyan Eve - Go to Temples and Enjoy Float Parades

The first day of the celebration is also known as the Water-sprinkling Celebration's Eve.  It is also a day dedicated to religious activities.  You can visit the temple during the day to pay contributions to the monks, baptize the Buddha, and see the sculptures in the stupa.  A pot of Ah-Tar-Oh flowers is put in the local home to represent good health and wealth in the next year.  It is the most lively time of day at night when the streets are packed with music, singing, dancing, and float parades.  At that time, you can follow the crowd to experience the lively atmosphere together.

Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon

Day 2: Water Festival - Experience Exciting Water Splashing Activities

The second day of the celebration also marks the formal start of splashing water and the descent of Thagya Min from heaven to earth.  You can arrange pots and pipes to sprinkle water on each other.  It is thought that splashing water can dispel bad luck and gain happiness and health.  Moreover, you may enjoy traditional appetizers and drinks while participating in the spectacular water fight.

Day 3: Modern-Day Celebration - Tasting the Authentic Local Food

The third day is also the last day of the water splashing activities.  The spraying water activities will continue, as will some unexpected attacks late at night.  On this day, you can celebrate Thingyan by eating traditional delicacies such as Shwe-Yin-Aye, or jelly, composed of coconut milk, glutinous rice, bread, caramel sauce, and Mont Let Saung, which is made of glutinous rice slices, coconut milk, and sesame seeds.  Not only that but these snacks will be created by hand by yourself.

Street Food in Myanmar

Day 4: New Year's Day - Experience Life Release Activities, Filial Piety for the Elderly

The last day of the event is the New Year, and with the end of the water splashing activity, you can commemorate the elders at Geracomium on this day.  You can help to wash the elderly guy's hair, bathe him, trim his nails, and do filial piety for the older people.  If interested, you can visit temples to feed monks and revere Buddha.  Not only that, you can experience life-release activities.  You can release fish to cleanse yourself of the sins and to bless yourself and your family.

Where to Celebrate the Thingyan Festival?


Thingyan is set in cities around Myanmar.  You can, for example, visit Yangon, which is also one of the most vibrant cities.  There is an extensive Water Festival in People's Park Square, music and dance performances, and other activities in front of City Hall.

In Yangon, the most important highlight of the Water Festival is Kandawgyi Lake.  Dozens of water spraying stations and stages will be built at that time, and the integration of stage and music adds a lively atmosphere to the water-splashing activity.


Another vibrant area is Mandalay, exactly like Yangon's Water Festival, with spectacular performances and exciting water battles, which is also a destination for many tourists.  The main venue of Mandalay's Water Festival will be located near the Mandalay Palace, which is also the most bustling place.  Compared with the Yangon Water Festival, although the lively will be less, you can also feel the atmosphere of joy.


In addition, Bagan, the city of Pagoda, also celebrates Thingyan, and people participate in the water-splashing festival and worship the Buddha.  Similar to water-splashing events in many cities, people also get together and splash water on each other to show their good wishes.  But the biggest highlight is that as a city with Buddhist pagodas, during the Water festival, you can visit many Buddhist pagodas.  If you are interested, you can also make pilgrimages.

Inle Lake

The Water Festival on Inle Lake is the most unusual, featuring rowing, ethnic dance performances, and the opportunity to ride in tiny boats and compete in water battles.  As a result, the mood of the Thingyan Festival can be felt in all locations.

Where to Stay During the Thingyan Celebration?


If you attend Thingyan in Yangon, you will experience a combination of ancient and contemporary. The first choice of dwelling is Maha Bandula Road in the downtown area, which has restaurants, stores, and other amenities, making it convenient to get around. You can reside in the Botahtaung region to experience the local heritage. If you want to sample real food close to your home, consider living near Chinatown. Families, especially those traveling with children, who wish to find peace should stay in Bahan Township, a highly active portion of the city with convenient infrastructure.

The above three areas are very close to the carnival near the City Hall, about 6-10 minutes by car, not only that, there will be a lot of water splashing activities near the accommodation.


Accommodation in Bagan may be split into three categories: Nyaung-U, Old Bagan, and New Bagan. Among them, Nyaung-U is a favorite residential neighborhood because the amenities are comprehensive, there are many different types of restaurants, many hotels in the region, the general atmosphere is excellent, and it is very close to many picturesque locations. Thus, the majority of visitors live in this area. A little distance distant, Old Bagan is very popular. New Bagan is quite popular with Europeans and Americans. Numerous restaurants and bars on both sides of the street are very vibrant, and the neighboring hotels are very distinctive and pleasant. Bagan is celebrated near Shwezigon Pagoda, which is also a very busy place. The celebration sites in the above three areas are very close, and it is usually about 10 minutes by car to reach the destination.


There are also several lodging alternatives in Mandalay. Choose Chanayethazan Township for a more luxurious stay since it is located in the downtown area, making it highly handy and close to attractions such as Mandalay Palace, various retail malls and the famous Zegyo Market. If you have a restricted budget, you may reside in Chanmyathazi Township, which is inexpensive and has several tourist attractions. These destinations are highly recommended for family trips or friends' getaways. From the above two places, the average drive to Mandalay Palace is about 10 minutes, so it is very convenient to participate in the Water Festival, and you will see the festival scene along the way.

Inle Lake

If you choose to live around Inle Lake, you will enjoy the wonderful scenery of the surroundings and the hotel's living environment, which is quite distinctive. The festival is usually held at Yawnghwe Township, Nanpan village. So you may choose to live in a typical waterside boathouse nearby, which is elegant, with excellent service and quality facilities.

Tips to Enjoy the Celebration of Thingyan

During the Thingyan Festival, please pay attention to the following things to provide a better experience for your festival trip.

1. The water battle is perhaps the most popular aspect of the event, but please avoid splashing water on monks, pregnant women, and the elderly, since this is considered impolite by locals.

2. When entering the temple, visitors should avoid wearing exposed clothing and remove their shoes.

3. If you visit Myanmar, sample some of the popular local delicacies, such as tea leaf salad, Burmese curry, and Mohinga (rice noodles served with herbal fish and shallot-based soup). These classic foods are available at the night market.

4. In general, the above-mentioned locations are quite safe, and they are also popular among travelers. However, it is also important to avoid carrying valuables as far as possible in order to avoid being crowded and causing loss.

5. During the event, try to reserve your hotel well in advance; otherwise, there may be congestion.

6. Visa and Master Card are accepted. However, some currencies may not be. Thus, you should convert some currencies before arriving at the airport.

7. The temperature will be slightly hot during the Thingyan Festival, so bring sun protection and some clothing to change into if you get wet.