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Expats in Phuket asked to respect Songkran New Year

Expatriates living on the Thai island of Phuket have been asked to ensure they only wear bikinis and beachwear at the coast during the Songkran New Year celebrations.

The governor of the state, Maitree Intrusud, has called attention to the dress code to be considered during the festivities, which begin on April 13th.

Thais mark the beginning of the solar calendar by carrying out familial shows of respect for their elders and throwing water at each other.

At this time of year, farmers are waiting for the rains to come in order to plant the year's rice crop, which is why water has become an important part of the traditions.

It is also the hottest time and throwing buckets of water at family and friends cools them down as they come together to celebrate.

Songkran is marked throughout Thailand, but the biggest displays of water-throwing are seen on Phuket and in Patong especially.

Visitors and non-Thai residents are encouraged to join in, but not to see it as an opportunity to wear fewer clothes.

The governor told Phuketwan: "We need to socialise the public to the same wavelength to make them understand the full picture."

He explained that the island is a challenging place as there is a wide selection of people living on it, from native Thais to Russians, Europeans and Australians, as well as a Chinese and Burmese population.

"There is a big difference between a person and a citizen. The citizen knows and understands responsibilities, and we are doing what we can to upgrade people on Phuket to become citizens," he added.

Phuket is often seen as a party island, but it is important that expats follow the advice of the governor and show respect during religious and traditional times in order to help integrate with the society.

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