Songkran is a three-day annual festival that takes place during the traditional Thai New Year. Starting on the 13th April to the 15th even though the event is only considered to be a three-day thing, the mass celebrations continue throughout the whole week culminating in a huge water fight that involves whole towns and cities. The wild scenes involve music, dancing and drinking whilst people drench you head to toe with water guns, hose pipes and buckets full of water.
April is known as the hottest month of the year and that is one of the main reasons why the Buddhist tradition of sprinkling water for purification has evolved into an entire country coming together over a water fight. But what should you expect if you visit Thailand during this time of celebration? Here is the ultimate guide to enjoying the festivities across Thailand and a few do’s and don’ts that will come in handy along the way.
Songkran in Bangkok
If you are in Bangkok during the Songkran festivities, expect a mass exodus. It is known that over half of the residents living in the area travel back to their hometowns for family reunions and large parties. Tourists also see this as one of the perfect times to visit Bangkok and this creates one of the most colourful, fun and diverse times of the year in the city.
Practically every office building, family run restaurant and shop will close during this period as people head to parts of the capital known for the best parties. Khao San Road and Silom Road are the most popular spots whilst other parts of the city such as hotels and clubs will host huge extravaganzas like pool parties.
Songkran in Chiang Mai
Some people can argue about where to go for the best Songkran in Thailand. Locals with be biased towards their own events but no one can argue who hosts the wettest. Chang Mai is known for the place to be if you want to see water flying in every direction and this is why a large number of tourists and backpackers visit especially during this time.
If you are one of those backpackers heading to Chiang Mai for Songkran you want to be heading to Tha Pae Gate. You will experience 4km of people having a water fight along the old moat with stalls along the road selling everything you could ever need. Large speakers are also situated along the route to add even more entertainment to the lively streets.
Songkran in Phuket
Phuket is the most popular beach destination in Thailand, so you can just imagine how wild the celebrations are during this time. The island turns into one huge party with everyone in sight manning a water gun. Even the police get involve putting down their machine guns for something a little more friendly in a water pistol, but beware they have a very good aim.
Patong Beach is the main gathering spot for the various activities during Songkran. This is the main tourist spot because of its nightlife and is where most bars are found. During the festival, there is a parade and even a beauty pageant to crown Miss Songkran. The water fight is along Soi Bangla and makes its way onto the beach.
Songkran in Pattaya
With the water fights lasting longer than the regular three-day celebrations, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Pattaya is the party city. The residents of the city continue the celebrations up until April 19th when the Wan Lai Festival takes place. This is the biggest day for drinking alcohol and enjoying lively and noisy festivities.
Beach Road is the place to be. With the road cut off to traffic, the area becomes the stage for live music and huge form machines. The local fire department uses their vehicles to soak residents using their trucks whilst everyone at the event is armed with either a water gun or semi-traditional bucket.
Songkran in Koh Samui
If you are looking for a Songkran which isn’t as intense as the major cities and islands then Samui may be perfect for you. A more fun celebration, you will find makeshift parties throughout the island that you can just turn up to and have a really good time at. Locals tend to drive around in pick up trucks and stop to jump off the back with a bucket full of water reading to throw at you.
If you are looking to go down and visit one of these parties, no holds barred events can be found on Chaweng Beach. Here you will find a number of bars and clubs around Soi Green Mango. If you head to the West Coast you will experience a quieter traditional Thai New Year celebration where you can join with local fishermen and families.
Do’s and Don’ts to Songkran
- Use waterproof bags to protect your values, your going to get very wet.
- Try to wish the locals a happy new year in their native tongue. Simply say ‘Sawasdee Pee Mai’
- Have fun, it’s a time to celebrate.
- Wear sunglasses. It is going to be a hot sunny day, so keep the light, water and anything else that is thrown from getting into your eyes.
- Use public transport methods if you want to visit an event because traffic will be a none mover.
- Do not soak monks, babies or the elderly. Monks are highly respected in Thailand and this will be seen as disrespectful.
- Don’t throw dirty water or water with ice in
- Do not throw water at motorcyclists as this could be very dangerous and cause crashes.
- If water goes into your mouth, avoid swallowing as you don’t know where it has come from and if it is clean.