Songkran, the Thai new year, is celebrated every year from April 12-15. It is the most anticipated countrywide event each year for Thai’s and tourists alike. For 3 days, sometimes 4 (the 11th), the entire country celebrates by throwing a huge water fight. This is not an exaggeration. If you step outside, you will be soaked. No one is safe!
As you drive down the street, kids, adults, grandparents, etc., throw buckets full of water on your car. If you’re lucky enough to be in a tuktuk, you’re the perfect target! If you’re walking down the street, there’s no point in running. And if you want to have the best time, go to Chiang Mai and dance by the Old City Gates all day long.
How to Prepare for Songkran:
1. Choose your location
Chiang Mai is at the top of many Thai’s and tourists lists for the best place to celebrate Songkran. However, this is a country wide celebration. Anywhere you go will be an amazing time. Be sure to think about other activities during the three days! An escape to the beach or a mountain hike are great ways to get away from the constant splashing.
2. Book accommodations early
I can’t stress this enough! I booked my guesthouse almost two months prior to Songkran and even then I had a tough time finding a decent place to stay.
3. Pack the essentials
Bug spray, sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen, and more sunscreen. I have very fair skin and I get sunburnt at midnight so I might be more cautious than the average person. However, you’re out in the sun ALL day long. You may not be hot, but your skin will be sizzling. Protect it now, thank me later.
4. Hawaiian shirts and goggles
Hawaiian shirts are not a necessity, but they are so lightweight and fashionable (kidding). They are sold EVERYWHERE leading up to Songkran. We shopped around to check out prices before trying to negotiate but ultimately spent the price everyone was offering. I’ll have to work on my bartering skills – they got me every time this trip! On the first official day of Songkran, I was shot in the eyes multiple times and decided that mad scientist goggles that matched my hawaiian shirt were a necessity. They were life savers and made the day so much more enjoyable.
5. Choose your weapon
Water guns, buckets, super soakers, you name it, are sold all along the streets, the markets, 7/11, the mall, etc. You won’t have a hard time finding something you like. I opted for a backpack water gun because I didn’t want to hold anything. I was carrying around my gopro and that was enough for me to concentrate on. You’re able to fill up your gun or bucket pretty much anywhere and people will happily help you. Realistically, you aren’t going to soak anyone because everyone is already soaked after 5 steps out of their guesthouse so the size of the water gun isn’t important. What’s important is looking like a complete weirdo. Hence, the butterfly backpack I sported the entire time.
6. Hydrate and eat
You may be soaked with cold water but you don’t want to drink what splashes into your mouth. Drink plenty of water and eat. Depending on the restaurant and the seating, it’s an unsaid rule that splashing someone with food on their table is not allowed. Enjoy a nice meal and people watch for as long as you’d like. The party doesn’t end.
7. Dance like no one is watching
You can sit on the sidelines and watch everyone dance or you can dance with a bucket on your head with complete strangers. Enjoy every second and let go of your fears. You’re in Thailand for Songkran – it doesn’t get much better than that!