The Songkran Festival which is also the Thai New Year starts on from the 13th of April to the 15th of April will have you all soaked into the hustle and bustle that consists of three days of fun-filled water-fights and non-stop revelries. As a matter of fact, the city of Bangkok sees the largest of Songkran parties being swamped on the Silom Road, Khao San Road and RCA, albeit splashing and merriments happening on any given street of the city. The visitors, on the other hand, can get a non-chaotic customary pulse of the Songkran celebrations in any temple of Bangkok.
Songkran stands to be the most popular festival of Thailand that marks the beginning of the new solar year and the start of the summer season as well.
This year, it will officially start on April 13, (although some cities start off celebrating this festival a few days before) and the celebration continues for three to five days, based on the location.
Conventionally, friends and family celebrate Songkran by splashing water on each other in the form of a wish for a year filled with blessings and by visiting temples.
All these years, the holiday has come out to be a water fight across the nation and a great reason to party and travel. So make sure that you book in advance before you hit the road since the trains and buses along with the hotels are packed with both international and Thai Travelers during the Songkran period.
The residents can be seen splashing water on one another for just one day on the streets of some Thai towns hence you will have to check before you travel. Other towns carry on with the festival merriments by extending them into one week of ceremonies, concerts, water fights and other revelries.
In case you are not a Songkran trouper, here are some things that you may want to consider before get onto the streets.
Make sure you fight with clean water which may be either tap water or those popular large jugs of water. And ensure that the water is not hot. Room temperature water should be fine, depending on how hot it is outside of course. Pouring ice-cold water on the people should not be a problem as long as you are not hitting them with (rock hard) ice cubes. You can fight with water pistols, water buckets, or garden hoses for that matter. High-pressure hoses and guns are, on the other hand, are prohibited for safety reasons. Failing to stick to these rules may lead to those being confiscated and being charged with a heavy fine for using them.
The majority of people play fair on the streets, but make sure you are careful not to shoot the passersby in the eyes since this is somewhat irritating (and potentially dangerous(. Ladies have to exercise special care as some alcohol-drive party-goers may get a little touchy. Common sense should always prevail.
A nice way to get into the real essence of Songkran is to let someone apply wet powder to your face. This is meant as a ‘blessing’ which stays with you even after your clothes have dried at the end of the day. However, be aware that because some people may not have very clean hands, and the powder has a tendency to clog the pores of your skin, it may leave you looking like an acne-plagued teenager after a couple of days after the festival. So, to avoid this, make sure you carry a bottle of clean water with you separately to wash off the powder with it. If you want to completely avoid the wet powder, go to Khao San Road since its usage is prohibited there.
Getting soaked is inevitable when you are on the battlefields of Songkran hence it is important that you dress up accordingly. Make sure you don’t dress up in whites unless you are prepared for it to become see-through once it gets wet. Putting on a swimsuit underneath is a great idea in case you want to maintain the dignity once an elephant pressure-hoses you. Don’t put on thick fabrics like denims as they may get really uncomfortable and heavy. In essence: try to dress up as if you are going to a beach. Boardshorts, t-shirts and flip-flops will work out the best. Also, remember to put try swimming goggles since at times the water may not be as clean as at home and has a tendency to cause infections and irritations.
If you are planning on getting into the action, put all your valuables and electronics in a waterproof backpack or waterproof duffel. A plastic waterproof pouch or a Ziploc will be just fine. Make sure you hide your bag inside your shirt or get it buttoned in case it is possible. However, a dry bag, which you can sling across your bag is ideal. Even better is an anti theft backpack, because you never know if thieves will be roaming in the crowds.
There is always room for capturing crazy moments of the festival and an easy and inexpensive way to do this is to get a waterproof camera. Or, alternatively, carry one of the more modern waterproof phones. Although personally, given the chaos of the event, I would grab something a little less expensive and disposable, given the option. Or, maybe get yourself one of those cheap GoPro alternatives. At least if it breaks, you didn’t spend much money.
You can get that waterproof necklace from the stands that sell water pistols. The better version goes for about sixty Baht which is available with a clear plastic on all the sides. This provides you with a handy case for yourself for less than $2, that will keep your phone and money conveniently dry and allows you to hang it safely around your neck.
What’s more, you can take great pictures through the clear plastic as well, without getting your gear wet.
Last but not the least, embrace the fun and wetness that comes with it. Don’t hold grudges and don’t attack people in a way that you would not appreciate either. In the end, you will come away with great memories, photos and an experience that you cannot find anywhere else in the world.