Does anything sound more like your ultimate childhood dream come true than a country-wide water fight!? Well that’s exactly what ‘Songkran’ (Thai New Year) in Thailand is and it’s not just for the kids!
The Songkran Festival is celebrated in Thailand from 13th-15th April. However, some celebrations have been known to continue for a few days afterwards. Traditionally, the morning of Songkran begins with merit-making. Whilst visiting local temples and offering food to the Buddhist monks are commonly practiced in Thailand, during Songkran pouring water on Buddha statues is considered an iconic ritual. I believe it represents purification and the washing away of sins or bad luck. Younger people also pour water over the palms of elders’ hands as a mark of respect.
My partner and I did not experience the most traditional of Songkran’s as we celebrated the Thai New Year in Phuket which is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Thailand. However, it is possibly some of the best fun I have ever had in my life! The holiday sees major streets closed to vehicles to use as the ultimate water fight arena’s. For two days we were in supersoaker war with every celebrant on Bangla Road in Patong. The young and the old, bar owners, tuk tuk driver’s and even police officers all got in on the action. Each bar on Bangla road lined the front of it’s premisis with a water armed army ready to soak the opposing bars! Colourfully decorated Ute’s filled with locals and buckets of icy cold water drove up and down the surrounding streets targeting the least expecting victim’s. Jets of water came from all directions, icy-cold water was launched from buckets across the streets and out of windows and cars. If you were really unlucky you would cop a handful of talc/flour to the face followed by uncontrollable giggles from the culprit.
The central shopping area of Phuket was quite the party, with loud music and a stage equipped with giant hoses that shot water into the crowd!
Travel tips for visiting Thailand over the Songkran period:
- Plan ahead! Flights and hotels can fill up fast in the more popular tourist destinations and prices can be hiked up too.
- Planning ahead will hopefully mean that you won’t be travelling on the day of the celebrations but if you are, put all electronics and valuables into waterproof bags/cases or cover your backpacks and suitcases with a waterproof cover – you will get wet regardless of whether you are begging not to be soaked!
- Buy your water pistols early. These will be selling weeks before the celebrations so get them early to avoid inflated prices on the day.
- Protect your valuables/electronics on the day. Leave your phones behind or buy a waterproof case to carry them in, same goes for camera’s that aren’t waterproof. There really is no escaping getting wet.
- Opt for contact lenses over glasses if you can. Some water pistols have a pretty strong water stream that can leave quite a sting at close range so they will probably get knocked around a bit.
- With the last comment in mind it might be a good idea, if taking small children, that they wear a swimming mask or goggles to protect their eyes.
- Don’t wear thick clothing such a jeans, obviously cos it’s very hot but also cos you will be soaked right through so your clothes will be heavy and uncomfortable.
- Have fun!! If you don’t want to get wet don’t go to Thailand at Songkran or stay in your hotel room, it’s as simple as that!