APRIL 13 is a bittersweet date I’ll always remember. Back in 2011 my father passed away on this date. In his later years he was fascinated with Buddhism, in fact fascinated probably isn’t the word, he was a Buddhist. And I’m not talking in a way to be trendy. He practised Buddhism and believed in its ideology and the way life should be lived.

Two years later I found myself in the midst of a big trip around South-East Asia. I was in Thailand, a Buddhist country, celebrating on April 13. But why?

Because April 13 is the date that is Thai New Year, known to locals as Songkran. It’s quite fitting really when I think about it.

Songkran is usually celebrated in dramatic fashion, with huge water fights taking place for a minimum of three days up and down the country. For the Thai’s it is a practice used to wipe away the sins from the year but for visitors like me and you it’s all about the fun.

I remember just coming back from a gruelling trip in India to embrace Songkran, so I wasn’t 100 per cent. Despite being a bit sick the contagious thing was the happy celebrations.

Everyone, of all ages, from locals to travellers were getting involved. It was like one giant festival. The best advice I can give you is to throw yourself in the deep end – pun intended – and get wet quickly.

Then when you’re carefree about how drenched you are, it’ll just be a whirlwind of fun.

With warm weather, buzzing cities, strong cultural elements and paradise beaches it certainly helps having a friendly ol’ water fight in tune with traditional celebrations.

That’s certainly a bit different to what happens in the North-East for New Year – back at home we’d want anything but to be sprayed with cold water from December 31 to January 1!

With tourism in Thailand soaring in recent years (over 35 million visited in 2017) its another epic reason you should travel further afield into Southeast Asia. For me, there’s no question when I travelled there extensively for the best part of a year from 2012-2013 it was socially the best time of my life, with Thailand being my favourite destination.

Songkran is a rich example of other traditions in the world many of us don’t know about unless we see for ourselves. It’s a big world out there but in many ways it’s becoming smaller; we’re more interconnected and we’re able to learn about different cultures and nationalities in our hometowns, something I think we should embrace. We are all people at the end of the day and as humans we can learn to adapt.

If you’re thinking of visiting Thailand then here’s some second inspirational words to urge you to go. Songkran is an example of Thailands rich cultural beliefs but if you’re not much of a cultural cat, although it’s difficult not be fascinated here, then enjoy Thailands many other perks. With jungles and village life to the North of the country, One of the worlds best cities in Bangkok as the main hub and those famous Thai islands to the south, Thailand isn’t a trip you take for one week. Spend some time there if possible and expose yourself to beautiful surroundings. The weather is amazing, the prices are low, the food is great and the people are very warming.

If they aren’t enough reasons to visit I don’t know what is!