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Monday, April 8, 2019

Experiencing Songkran in Thailand and Survival Tips (Thai New Year)

Known as the “Land of Smiles”, Thailand is also regarded for a special event called Songkran Festival (Thai New year or Thailand Water Festival). To mark the occasion, there is a huge array of events that one shouldn’t miss such as street parties, beauty pageants and other forms of entertainment. However, the highlight of the show is the friendly water fight where thousands of people. including tourists soak each other with water as sign of good luck.What started off as a special occasion for Thai people to sprinkle water on their family members and elders for good fortune and pay their respects to images of the beloved Buddha, has evolved into what is known today as the largest water fight in the world. And it lasts for three full days, officially, that is.

See video near end of article

Songkran in Thailand is officially observed between the 13th and 15th of April (three days national holiday). However, in reality, these celebrations of water play fun, splashing locals and visitors alike with buckets of water, water hoses, super soakers and even elephants, can often last the entire week.

Many partiers will drive around with 44 gallons of water, catching everyone by surprise. It’s all in good fun and a fun way to cool off. Additionally, a white paste made from flour or talcum powder is smeared on unwitting people’s faces. Be advised that you will get very wet, this is not a spectator event. It is advisable to wear dark clothing, as light colors may become transparent when wet.

Water pistols and Super Soakers are advised and are on sale everywhere. The best places to participate are Chiang Mai, Bangkok, especially in the areas of Khao San Road and Silom Road and holiday resorts like Pattaya, Koh Samui and Phuket.

Chiang Mai is renowned for one of the grandest Songkran celebrations in Thailand. One of the reasons is that a large number of people from Chiang Mai work in Bangkok and neighboring cities, so it gives them a chance to return home and celebrate with their families and friends.

If you’re considering traveling to Thailand during Songkran be prepared to get soaked having the time of your life in a fun and exciting water fight (all in good fun). The Thai New Year always takes place in the hottest time of the year, so it’s the perfect time for water play; you’ll feel like a kid again. Everyone will get in on the fun, spraying, dropping water from above and splashing each other.

Songkran Travel Tips:

If you decide to visit Thailand during Songkran, here are a few tips that will help you to have an even better Songkran:

1. Be respectful - Even if you’re not a Buddhist, you can give alms to the monks. If you can’t, then it's better just to witness their rituals.

2. Book your accommodation early - if you're planning to be in Thailand during Songkran. If heading to one of the major Songkran destinations, advanced hotel bookings are also recommended. Hotels in Thailand (espacially in Songkran hot spots) tend to sell out fast during this special time of the year.

3. Protect yourself – Remember that there is no exemption to get wet during the celebration. In fact, even kids are having fun refreshing themselves on water. The best way to arm yourself is to buy a water gun or bring water containers so that you will not just take the water from participants but drench against them as well. Yet, make sure the water gun is capable of shooting long distance and has a huge reservoir.

4. Buy protection for your camera – If you wish to bring your camera to capture fun moments with natives, then you should invest in protection to waterproof your camera and other valuables from getting wet. It would be practical if you choose a disposable waterproof camera instead. This way, you can bring captured pictures back home without having your camera in trouble.

5.Use public transportation - if you are heading to one of Songkran ‘hotspots’, as traffic will be paralysed

6. Dress accordingly – There is no dress code for such event. So, leave your pants and shoes at home and wear something contemporary to the participants. T-shirts and a pair of short are definitely perfect for such water splashing celebration. But before you forget, take note of the color of your shirt as it tends to become see through when wet.

7. Leave your valuables at home – If you wish to accessorize yourself with jewelries better don’t. Better leave them at home as they may get lost during the water fight event. As for gadgets, better not bring them as they might get damaged as soon as the participants start the water ritual.

A few things not to do:

  • Do not douse monks, babies or the elderly
  • Do not drive when you have been drinking
  • Do not throw water with ice or dirty water
  • Do not throw water at motorcyclists, to prevent road accidents

And lastly, try wishing the locals a Happy New Year in Thai by saying “Sawasdee Pee Mai!”

It is recommended that you experience Songkran in Thailand at least once and then you can determine for yourself if you want to go back to do it again. And most likely you will. Have fun and “Sawasdee Pee Mai!”


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