April is the hottest month in Sakon Nakhon, and the time when Thailand’s New Year celebrations occur. The Thai New Year is called Songkran. Both Songkran and the Western New Year (January 1st) are celebrated. The Songkran national holiday lasts for 3 days (not including the weekend). You want to be sure that you aren’t traveling by car to Sakon Nakhon in the weekend prior to the start of Songkran, because traffic often comes to a standstill. It usually takes about 9-10 hours to drive to Sakon Nakhon from Bangkok, but if you get stuck in Songkran traffic, you could be looking at 16 hours of travel time or more.
Songkran is traditionally a festival where blessings are shared by family members, friends, and monks by the pouring of water over the hands, and sometimes the powdering of faces. This tradition has morphed in recent times to the infamous water battles that you may have seen on newscasts. One had to be very careful if traveling by motorbike during this period, because at a any moment a pickup truck loaded with people and huge buckets of water might come up from behind and drench you with water, sometimes causing a minor accident. The COVID situation stopped these practices for the past few years, but in the future they could resume again.
Songkran accidents are always big news each year, with the Nation and Bangkok Post publishing figures of how many deaths have occurred. However, it is important for tourists to note that the vast majority of the deaths are individual motorcycle accidents late at night, where the driver is intoxicated. They are not frequently caused by car accidents, especially during the daytime and early evening. You don’t have to worry too much driving in a car during Songkran, unless you are doing so after 11pm. However, make sure that you are not driving drunk, because police road stops are common during Songkran, and breathalyzer tests are given. Plus you don’t want to be a hazard to others on the road.
Sakon Nakhon weather in April is (as I mentioned) very hot, with thunderstorms being a rare occurrence. If you are looking to do a little swimming during Songkran (or anytime in April) to cool off, the locals will swim in the canals, which become filled with more water during April. One canal that is popular is the one which runs parallel to the Satit Ket Kaew Udom Dharma Practice Center and Wat Pa Wiwek Chanthraram. Another popular canal is the one which runs parallel to Home Up Cafe. Along both canals you will sometimes find food/drink vendors and inner tubes available. Just keep traveling along the canal until you see the area with lots of people swimming.