The Songkran Festival in Thailand & Hot Tips on Being There!
Posted On December 13, 2018
What is Songkran?
There is no better way to ring in the Thai New Year than the week-long craziness that is the world’s largest water fight — Songkran! This amazing holiday happens every April with the official festivities this year held April 13–15. Songkran started as a tradition of cleansing monks and Buddha images with water and fragrance, to bring luck in the new year.
It has exploded into a fun, traditional national holiday that consists of soaking strangers in the city streets. The timing is right for getting wet, as April is the hottest month of the year in Thailand!
The most notorious celebration of Songkran is held in the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai, although it is practiced throughout many Southeast Asian Buddhist countries. Known for its rich culture and abundance of temples, Chiang Mai has a moat that surrounds the old inner city that provides the perfect battleground and unending fuel for Songkran, the world’s largest water fight!
Why should you go?
It’s more fun that you can imagine. The sun, the water fights, the people, the culture, the pure joy, the Thai people’s smiles, the fun, the food, the laughs, the memories. Interested? Go with Free & Easy on our 10-Day Thai Trip: The World’s Greatest Water Fight for an absolutely unreal experience with people who have 16 years of experience behind them. We do it right. (Plus there’s a 3 day jungle trek and an amazing night in Bangkok involved.)
What do you do?
Basically, just walk around. The fun will find you! If you’re looking for the heart of Songkran, head to Thaepae Gate (or The East Gate) along the moat of Chiang Mai’s inner old city. With stages, DJs, foam parties, and more, it is worth getting to through the crowds of happy people.
Unwritten Rule #1: It is important to continue to respect Thai culture regardless of the debaucherous nature of the holiday. Thai people like to have fun, but usually it’s good, clean fun. Make sure you wear a shirt and shorts in public (not just your bathing suit), don’t get too drunk, and remember that it’s their holiday (we’re just lucky we get to join in the fun!)
Unwritten Rule #2: Water throwing only takes place between sunrise and sunset.
Unwritten Rule #3: It doesn’t matter who you are, where you are, or what you’re wearing… if you are outside of your hotel room and the sun is up… game on! Prepare to get wet.
Unwritten Rule #4: Avoid using the dirty street water in your water gun or bucket. That’s how you get pink eye.
Learn some Thai — Memorise this line: ‘Sah wah dee pee mai kahp!’ it translates to “Happy New Year” and they say it every 5 seconds during Songkran.
Don’t plan a travel day during Songkran — Most transport isn’t running, and if it is, it’ll be a slow ride. Songkran runs throughout the whole country, including the highways. Any attempt to ride a bike or motorbike during Songkran is absurd. Car accidents skyrocket during the water festival.
Protect your orifices — Use a headband or ear plugs to cover your ears and wrap around sunglasses to cover your eyes. Getting a shot right in your eye is THE WORST.
Wear strap on sandals — You will likely lose your flip flops is the sopping streets.
Don’t spend too much on a water gun — Buy a decent water gun, but everything will likely break within the day anyways. If you’re sticking close to a main water source then a bucket and the local, homemade one-pump sticks make the best combination.
Trust us, this will make your year! Start off the Thai New Year right: At Songkran with Free & Easy having the time of your life!