Songkran Festival is an annual celebration in Thailand that takes place during April every year to celebrate the Thai New Year. It is also sometimes referred to as the Water Festival. In 2017 Songkran Festival is due to take place between the 13th-15th April.
Officially the festival lasts three days but, in truth, the celebrations often last around a week as the whole country shuts down and gets ready for a week of music, dancing, drinking, splashing people with water and generally having lots of fun.
One thing is for sure in Thailand during Songkran, if you go outside then you're going to get drenched! It's each man, woman and child for themselves and people will use anything they can get their hands on to splash you - water guns, hose pipes, buckets and more. Some people actually get quite inventive and sales of toys like water pistols and such tend to soar in the days and weeks leading up to the festival.
April is in fact the hottest month of the year in Thailand traditionally so this countrywide water fight and the frivolity is often a great relief from the soaring temperatures and many new friendships are made each year during the festival.
Songkran originated as a Buddhist tradition where a light sprinkling of water was used to symbolise purification but as time has past people began splashing each other in a more enthusiastic, fun and playful manner. Nowadays Songkran Festival is a countrywide, week-long water fight that is celebrated by millions of people, both Thais and foreigners, as they welcome the Thai New Year.
Songkran Festival is all about having fun, making friends and celebrating the Thai New Year so remember to take a splashing with the good humour in which it is intended and if you hear ‘Sawadee Bee Mai’ which means ‘Happy New Year’ in Thai then be sure to return the kindness.
This annual Thai Festival is all about having fun and you will get wet so it's best to leave your better clothes and shoes at home or in your hotel during Songkran Festival week.
If you need to take valuable like phones, cameras, money or identification with you when you head out, it's best to keep them in the widely available waterproof bags you'll see on sale in shops all over Thailand during Songkran week.
The only people who are generally ‘off-limits’ when it comes to getting splashed are monks, new born babies and the elderly so if getting wet isn't you're thing then you may want to either stay indoors or avoid going to Thailand during Songkran Festival from the 13th - 15th April 2017.
Make sure you use with clean water like tap water or bottled water and ensure that the water isn't too hot or cold!
Think about it, if someone throws water at you that is ‘normal’ temperature then it's all good fun but hot water can cause injuries and ice-cold water, depending how warm it is outside, can cause a bit of a shock.
Get inventive! You can join the fun with water pistols, water buckets, cups or even a garden hose for that matter but using high pressure hoses or guns isn't safe and so might be confiscated. You could even land up with a heavy fine for using them as they aren't safe.
Play fair. You'll find that most people out on the streets during Songkran are just looking to have fun and water fights are exactly that - fun! Just be mindful and make sure you are careful enough not to shoot people in the eyes since this is deemed to be irritating and dangerous.
A quick note for the ladies during Songkran, have fun, but be aware that there is always that one opportunistic guy who might think that being in the middle of a crowd of drenched people having fun gives him license to get a little too touchy which it obviously doesn't.
The best investment you can make in preparation for Songkran, apart from the latest and greatest water pistol, is a Ziploc waterproof bag. These clear plastic, waterproof pouches are widely available from shops and market stalls in all the major cities in Thailand.
A handy yet minimal investment, having Ziploc waterproof bag during the festival, means you can keep your money, phone and other valuables safe and dry and most Ziploc bags come with a long neck strap too which makes them perfect to hang around your neck and then tucked away inside your shirt - safely out of the reach of pick-pockets.
Another great investment during the festival is to buy a waterproof camera. You can either buy them before you go to Thailand or you could try and buy one in any of the big shopping malls in Bangkok, Phuket, Pattaya and Chiang Mai which usually have a level dedicated to gadgets and electronics.
Investing in a disposable waterproof camera means you can get all those precious photos that you'll want to keep forever without risking damage to your expensive gadgets and equipment.
If one thing is guaranteed during Songkran it's that every time you go out, you're going to get drenched! Dressing accordingly will mean that you don't feel uncomfortable or embarrassed.
If you decide to wear white then bear in mind that white clothes are see-through when they get wet so you might want to wear a swimsuit underneath.
Thick, heavy fabrics like jeans and denim are also not great during Songkran as they tend to get heavy and clingy when they're wet. We would suggest that you stick to lightweight beach wear - board shorts, t-shirts and flip-flops all work great!
Some people also choose to have a pair of swimming goggles to hand so they don't get too much water in their eyes which can cause irritation and even eye infections, on occasion.
Remember that Songkran is all about having fun and celebrating the Thai New Year. Relax, enjoy and let the kid inside you out to play for a while. Giving as good as you get is expected just so long as it's all done with a smile and a ‘Sawadee Bee Mai’ - Happy New Year!
..oh and just in case you're thinking that you'd love to be in Thailand for Songkran this year but can't make it, there's always next year! Songkran 2018 will take place between the 13th and 15th April 2018 so start saving and planning now.
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