Songkran, the Thai New Year’s Festival, can be lots and lots of fun, as long as you know a few things about it.
I do remember precisely how I felt when I arrived in Bangkok for the very first time back in 2010. It was Songkran and I had no idea what’s happening and why and was overwhelmed and too busy with sightseeing to join the fun. Back then I promised myself to come back and celebrate Songkran in Bangkok one day. And that’s what I did this year. And oh we had fun. So much fun. I really can’t remember the last time I had so much fun and been so completely happy for three days in a row. But I also noticed that not everyone had as much fun as I did. If you want to celebrate Songkran in Bangkok and join the fun you definitely need to know some things about it.
All you need to know when celebrating Songkran in Bangkok:
1. What is Songkran?
Songkran is the New Year’s Festival in Thailand. It’s normally celebrated each year from April 13th to 15th. The traditional water pouring is ment as a symbol to wash away all misfortunes from the past year and to start the new year fresh and clean. Coming from this tradition during the last years Songkran Festival became a huge water party throughout Thailand, where Thais and tourists alike celebrate the new year together.
2. Let yourself in for it
When you’re in Thailand during Songkran you definitely should join the fun. Everywhere and especially in Bangkok and Chiang Mai, Songkran is a huge party and the only way to skip that, is to leave the country or hide in your hotel room. So: take a deep breath and join the fun!
3. You definitely will get wet
When you’re celebrating Songkran in Bangkok there’s no chance of not getting wet. And that’s actually good! Not only because the April-heat in Thailand is so much more bearable because of this. But this also means you will probably walk around for hours in wet clothes. That’s why you need to think about what you’re going to wear. Long dresses or hippie pants are definitely a no-go, just because it will stick to your body and limit your mobility. Best would be to wear surfer shorts and a t-shirt and underneath – for sure – bikini or swimming trunks.
4. Be prepared
You need to think about more than just your clothing. There are three important things you need to get:
- a water gun
- a waterproofed bag
- safety glasses
You can buy a water gun everywhere the days before Songkran. Think twice about which size you want. A small gun won’t help you far, but the bigger a water gun is the heavier it is too. My tip: buy a medium-sized one and position yourself somewhere close to a water tank (most restaurants and guesthouses are happy to help you with water).
A waterproofed bag is self-explaining. As you will get wet so will your belongings. If you’re planning to bring some money or your phone you definitely need a waterproofed bag.
You also need to protect your eyes, as often a jet of water will blow up in your face. You can use your sun glasses but you can also buy some of the safety glasses sold on the streets.
5. Be respectful
Yes, Songkran in Bangkok can be a lot of fun and yes, everyone who’s in the city during that time needs to be prepared to get wet. But you definitely will see people on the street not enjoying themselves. May it because the are party poopers or scared of getting their valuables soaked. Trust your instinct when choosing a victim. Don’t overdo it. Just think about who you would feel. Songkran is most fun when both parties are enjoying themselves. Also try to only use lukewarm water, it really is no fun getting soaked with ice-cold water all day long.
6. Taking a cab during Songkran in Bangkok
Maybe you want to celebrate in another part of the town, meet up with friends or (worst case) you need to get to the airport. Taking a cab during Songkran in Bangkok can be quite a challenge. For one thing: it’s likely you will be completely soaked. Best would be to head to the taxi directly from your hotel, take your hands up and walk fastly through the crowd. With a bit of luck you will reach the taxi only half-soaked and your chances to get a taxi are way higher like this.
For another thing: the taxi driver might not want to head to the direction you wanna go to. Especially when you’re heading to one of the hotspots of Songkran Festival (Khao San Road, Silom, Siam Square), it might happen that the taxi driver will refuse to take you there as this will also mean you probably going to be stuck in traffic AND the taxi is going to be wet/dirty afterwards. Best is to offer him a huge tip, like the price on the taximeter plus extra 50 or 100 Baht (depending on the length of the trip).
7. Enjoy yourself!
The most important thing at the end: Enjoy Songkran! Have fun! It really feels like being a child again, and this is quite amazing! Watch the video to get a glimpse of how Songkran in Bangkok can be like: