If you are on the streets during Songkran be prepared to be soaked from head to toe. This is part of the reason people say it is like Marmite (Vegemite if you are Australian), either way there is a probability that you’ll be soaked through for 3 days in a row.
The Songkran festival is a tradition that has been around for many years. Originally, the festival was a time to pour scented water over statues of Buddha for good luck, with the dripping water collected and sprinkled over loved ones as a blessing.
However, with time, this holy custom has evolved and made it into what it is today – The biggest water fight known to mankind!
Beginning on the 13th of April to the 15th, the city of Bangkok will see the largest of Songkran parties and you will be swamped on the Silom Road, Khao San Road and RCA, although this can and will happen in most parts of Thailand, especially tourist areas.
You can expect that the only places that will be open are the ones selling alcohol. Locals and tourists, from children to the elderly, take to the streets of Thailand armed with buckets, super soakers and icy cold water with one motive – to drench as many people as possible!
From the very beginning of my first Songkran (a while ago now) I was wet from the very moment I woke up. Someone had upset the gods, because for the first time in years it was raining on Songkran! Raining so hard, water was coming through my roof and my resort bungalow was flooded.
Within 5 mins of leaving my bungalow, I was ambushed by two kids waiting at the bottom of the hill armed with their pesky water guns filled with icy water and buckets. Before I could even attempt to run I was drenched with water so cold it took my breath away and my face was smothered with a chalky white paste.
This will become a weapon of dread for you over the course of the celebrations. The water used will likely make you jump as you are unsuspectingly enjoying yourself.
This, often a regular weapon that young children enjoy and the odd drunken Farang, but most people will probably give you expletives if you decide to use the Ice water too much.
Linking back to my first Songkran, I can remember arriving at Crystal Dive and the party was on! Girls being picked up and thrown into the pool (a good way to warm up after a bucket of ice water), the bar strewn with beer bottles!
The whole Crystal family was there, we had 24 hours off work and we were ready for the usual party of Songkran!
Moving on to Sairee beach and making stops at 7/11 on the way for some roadies. Every pickup that went past was full of people with water pistols and buckets soaking everyone walking by and even targeting scooters. (If you think riding a scooter in Thailand is dangerous, then you should see it on Songkran)!
That day, Maya Beach Club was the place to be, with beer tents on the beach, jugs of cocktails, a floating platform in the sea and world renowned DJ Goldie on the decks.
This place had it all! I decided it would be a great idea to attach my GoPro to my super soaker for some action shots and set it to take photos periodically. Quite possibly the best idea I’ve ever had.
Koh Tao nightlife did not disappoint. The mood was great, fancy dress and tutus were out, no one was dry, the drink was flowing. The hours went by and so did the bars we visited, each one becoming more of a blur than the last.
Upon waking the next morning, slightly delicate with a couple of small bruises that were not there the morning previous, I went through my safety checks, body, phone and money all ok.
I had survived my first day of Songkran, but I had learned that golden rules were required. I have broken them down into some simple do’s and don’ts for a successful Songkran festival.
Things not to do on Songkran
- Throw water on motorbikes, passing or stationary. It’s just a bad idea!
- Drink and Drive. Songkran has the most road deaths and accidents in the world during this period, and drinking and driving makes it even more dangerous. I either walk or take a taxi, it’s just not worth the risk. Also, if you do insist on going on a bike, please use a helmet.
- Show respect for locals who are not there on holiday. This means you should not throw water on elderly people or people with infants or babies. Also, please don’t throw the water on to any monks you see, if you do by mistake it is best to say sorry.
Thinks to do on Songkran
- Protect your valuables. As I have already talked about motorbikes I will skip to protecting what matters to us the most after our bodies, our phones. Before I even contemplate heading into Songkran I have my zip-lock or a small waterproof bag and a waterproof cover for my phone.
- Choose the right clothing. Getting wet is a guarantee so choose the correct clothing, swimwear is the best idea under some lightweight fabric. Floors will get slippery so good footwear is a good tip.
- Enjoy yourself. Make friends, enjoy the music and be ready to (water) fight. Using clean water, not shooting into peoples faces or eyes and not having your water pistol too powerful is a great way to do this!
The second day expect the community social media pages to be strewn with many funny images and people asking in lost and found for possessions they have lost. The unpleasant feeling of waking up to a wet and sandy bed with soaking wet clothing, was only comforted by the smile I had from returning memories from the previous evening.
I forced myself up, showered and it was time to venture to Zest to meet the girls for breakfast, only to be kindly reminded of my actions from the night before. We spent the whole morning laughing whilst between us piecing together parts of the night and the rest of the day eating junk food, watching movies and nursing our sore heads.
The Songkran festival is up there with one of the best nights of my life. 24 hours of partying, running around with a super soaker like a child, being attacked with ice cold water (while at the same time as being apologised to), leaving a bar via a slide and doing it all with my unconventional Crystal family.
I promise you Songkran is unlike any other festival anywhere else in the world, just be careful and be prepared, 2019 I am ready for you!