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Songkran Bangkok: 7 top things you must know about Thai New Year’s festival

Songkran Bangkok, 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 first time in 2010. The festival was on, and I had no idea what was happening and why. I was overwhelmed and too busy sightseeing to join the fun. Back then, I promised myself I would 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 can’t remember the last time I had so much fun and was 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 Bangkok:

1. What is Songkran?

Songkran is the New Year’s Festival in Thailand. It’s usually celebrated each year from April 13th to 15th. The traditional water pouring is meant 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, the Songkran Festival became a vast water party throughout Thailand, where Thais and tourists celebrate the new year together.

2. Let yourself be part of it

You should join the fun when you’re in Thailand during Songkran. Everywhere, especially in Bangkok and Chiang Mai, Songkran is a huge party, and the only way to avoid that is to leave the country or hide in your hotel room. So, take a deep breath and join the fun!

people walking on the street
people walking on the street
3. You will definitely get wet

When you’re celebrating Songkran in Bangkok, there’s no chance of not getting wet. And that’s 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 will wear. Long dresses or hippie pants are a no-go because they will stick to your body and limit your mobility. The best would be to wear surfer shorts and a T-shirt and underneath – for sure – a bikini or swimming trunks. Bring your things in a dry bag to keep them from getting wet.

4. Be prepared

You need to think about more than just your clothing. There are three essential things you need to get:

  • a water gun
  •  a waterproof bag
  •  safety glasses

You could buy a water gun everywhere in 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, the heavier it is. 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).

man standing and filling a yellow water bottle

A waterproof bag is self-explaining. As you get wet, so will your belongings. You need a waterproof bag if you plan to bring money or your phone.
You also need to protect your eyes, as a jet of water will often blow up in your face. You can use your sunglasses, but you can also buy some safety glasses sold on the streets.

two women with sunglasses and red and green water guns
5. Be respectful

Yes, Songkran in Bangkok can be a lot of fun, and everyone 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 is because they are party poopers or scared of getting their valuables soaked. Trust your instinct when choosing a victim. Please don’t overdo it. Just think about how you would feel. Songkran is most fun when both parties are enjoying themselves. Also, try only to use lukewarm water; it is no fun getting soaked in ice-cold water all day.

people standing on the street
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, you will likely be completely soaked. The best would be to head to the taxi directly from your hotel, take your hands up, and walk fastly through the crowd. With some luck, you will reach the taxi only half-soaked, and your chances of getting a taxi are way higher.

The taxi driver might not want to head in the direction you want to go. 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 are probably going to be stuck in traffic. The taxi is going to be wet/dirty afterward. The best is to offer him a huge tip, like the price of the taximeter plus an 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 feels like being a child again, and this is quite amazing! Watch the video to get a glimpse of what Songkran in Bangkok can be like:

Have you celebrated Songkran in Bangkok or elsewhere in Thailand? Any tips to add?

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