The Festival of Songkran is an annual event in Thailand that falls between the 13th and the 15th of April. Also known as the Water Festival, it is a celebration of Thai New Years and is probably one of the biggest parties that you will ever experience. It is a one of a kind type of event that everyone should experience at least one time in their life.
Songkran began as a solemn Buddhist tradition where people would offer others good luck by lightly dousing their heads with water. As it stands today, the festival is likely the world’s largest water fight, where practically nobody is off limits. Where else can you dump an entire buck of ice water on a policeman and not get arrested?
Before the faithful day arrives, there are a few things that you should do to prepare. First thing you will need is a set of clothes that you don’t mind getting ruined. Some Thai’s love to put food coloring in the water, so whatever you wear will likely get stained. First things first, go buy a cheap shirt for the holiday, this is Thailand after-all, there are cheap shirts on every corner. Better yet, buy a tacky Hawaiian shirt. Yes you heard me right, Hawaiian shirts aren’t just for fat guys and party animals any more, it is the unofficial shirt of Songkran!
Next you need to buy a water gun. The more powerful the better, but don’t spend too much money, it will likely be broken before the first day is over. This isn’t entirely necessary as the water fight will quickly escalate, rendering a water gun somewhat useless. Think buckets and fire hoses.
Lastly you need a plan of action. Have a general idea beforehand where you want to go and celebrate. Songkran is one of the deadliest driving days of the year, so you don’t want to be driving too far.
What to Expect
The only way to not get wet on Songkran is to stay in your room, and where’s the fun in that? You will get wet, so expect it and don’t get angry when it happens. Songkran is a really big deal in Thailand, so just go with the flow.
Depending on what part of the country you are in, you may experience different things. Generally speaking, there will be people everywhere. Some on the side of the road, some in the back of pickup trucks, some on motorcycles. As I said before, everyone is fair game, but typically, it’s the people standing versus the people driving. The people on the road will throw water at the people driving by and those driving by will return the favor. I bet you can guess why this is the deadliest three days for driving in Thailand!
Know that water will get everywhere, this includes your drink, so a good rule of thumb, the smaller the mouth of your drink the better. So a bottle of beer is much preferable to say, a mug of beer. This isn’t the cleanest water after-all.
A large dose of sun, alcohol and physical exertion isn’t an ideal recipe for a long day, so most celebrators will end their partying quite early. Of course there are those hanger-ons that will just push it as far as they can. You can expect a break in the action some time in the early evening, but as I said, depending on location, your experience may vary.
If you managed to survive the day without a trip to the hospital, consider yourself one of the lucky ones. If you end up at the hospital, well, at least you’re still alive! Songkran is likely one of the biggest parties that you will take part in, so I’m sure it will be one heck of a story to tell!
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