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Your complete guide to Songkran 2024 in Macao

The traditional Southeast Asian New Year will be celebrated with a water festival, float parade, live performances and, of course, delicious food.




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With reporting by Kenny Fong




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UPDATED: 12 Apr 2024, 1:23 pm

April is an important month for a number of countries in Southeast Asia, marking the beginning of the traditional Solar New Year celebration. Defined as the time when the sun enters the constellation of Aries, it normally occurs between 13 and 16 April. 

For those in Thailand, the occasion is known as Songkran, which is also the most familiar term to English speakers, but in Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos, the festival is referred to as Thingyan, Sangkranta and Pi Mai respectively. In each of these celebrations, the pouring of water – a Buddhist symbol of purification and renewal – is of central importance.

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That aspect of Songkran has been taken to vulgar if good natured extremes in many cities in the region, where people drench each other in rowdy waterfights, using squirt guns, buckets and even hoses. To many tourists, for example, Songkran means nothing more than blasting fellow revellers with Super Soakers on a Bangkok street, while nearby bars and restaurants do a roaring trade.

Naturally, this isn’t how Songkran is traditionally observed. In many families, statues and other representations of the Buddha are reverentially bathed. Visitors lightly sprinkle the statues with water, while young people gently pour water onto the hands of elder relatives as a way of asking for blessings. Festive meals are also prepared.

Songkran in Macao

The biggest observers of the Solar New Year in Macao are expatriates from Myanmar, who greatly outnumber the Thais. (The Vietnamese community is more numerous than the Myanmar and Thai populations put together, but Songkran is only observed in some parts of Vietnam.)

The Myanmar community has been organising an annual Thingyan observance since 1995, welcoming the new year on behalf of other Southeast Asian communities in the SAR that practise the tradition. Officially known as the Macao Myanmar Overseas Chinese Water Festival, the event will hold its 26th edition on 20 and 21 April at Rua da Restauração and Rotunda de Carlos da Maia (colloquially known as Three Lamps). 

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Many activities have been planned, including an opening ceremony that will feature SAR government officials and the consul-generals of various Southeast Asian countries in Hong Kong. 

A couple of floats will be paraded, with singing and dancing performances on the opening day, as well as several food stalls serving mostly Burmese specialty cuisine on both days. As many as 1,000 people are expected to attend, and the inevitable “water festival carnival” has been organised between 3 pm and 5 pm on the event’s second day. Everyone is welcome to join. 

Where to eat in Macao during Songkran

Unfortunately, Myanmar restaurants are not numerous in Macao, but those in the know swear by the Seng Kuang restaurant, in the heart of the Three Lamps area. Try the mohinga (a hearty fish soup with rice noodles) and ohn no khauk swe (coconut chicken noodles) – always with the addition of Burmese fritters (made with mung beans) for an irresistible crunch. Even better, many dishes are 40 patacas or less. 

A lesser-known Burmese eatery near Rua do Cunha – Taipa Village’s popular eat street – is Yangon Chef. Like Seng Kuang, this is also a great spot to get your mohinga fix, but don’t miss the moreish vegetarian spring rolls. 

Thai food is much more widely available in Macao. Galaxy Macau’s Banyan Tree hotel has a Songkran barbecue night by the pool complete, with live music and prizes, on 13 April. On 12 and 13 April, executive chef Suraja “Jan” Ruangnukulkit prepares a lavish seven-course festive menu at the hotel’s swanky Michelin-rated Thai restaurant Saffron.

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From 12 to 14 April, Thai restaurant Naam at the Artyzen Grand Lapa holds a garden barbecue night, featuring a wealth of Thai delicacies complemented by free-flow beer and soft drinks.

Other Thai establishments to check out during Songkran include the old favourite Kruatheque, relative newcomer Nok Song and the Palace Cafe. Located inside the casino at Wynn Palace, the latter is a solid bet for highly satisfying Thai fare in the city. 

Lastly, if you feel inclined to celebrate the occasion by playing chef, make a beeline for the  Thailand Product Center, an ethnic grocery store near Macao’s own Thai street. Turmeric, kaffir lime leaf or young acacia leaf (otherwise known as cha-om) are just a few of the fresh Thai ingredients they stock, all flown in directly from the kingdom.

UPDATED: 12 Apr 2024, 1:23 pm

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