Songkran Festival, also known as the water splashing festival is celebrated around south Asian countries such as Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar (known as Tingyan in Myanmar).
It is also known as the water festival by westerners due to the the splashing and pouring of water at one another. The Songkran Festival which coincides with the Thai New Year, is actually a period where devotees visit temples to cleanse and pour water mixed with fragrance on Buddha images, give alms to the monks. They also splash water to ward off the bad luck for the new year since it’s the Thai New Year after all.
Here’s 8 Tips for Songkran for first-timers.
Tip 1: Book accommodation early
Songkran festival is an important annual event in Thailand for locals and tourist alike, booking ahead for accommodation and air-fare is a must. Plan early to enjoy early-bird discounts. This is especially true if you want an accommodation near popular water fight areas like silom or khao san road in Bangkok. These popular locations sell like hot-cakes and will sell out fast. Book early!
Tip 2: Abide with the rules
The saying goes like ‘When in Rome, do as the Romans do’. As such, when in Songkran, play by the rules too. Majority of the people play a fair game on the streets, make sure not to shoot fellow party goers in the eyes. Also, do not shoot at police/security officers who are on duty (as they are just doing their job after-all). The list of ‘No’s includes the use of Cooling powder, high pressure water guns, sexy attires andlast but not least, alcohol.
Tip 3: Dress appropriately and prepare to get wet
Most locals wear brightly colored floral shirts during the festival. You can blend in by wearing Hawaiian shirts or don yourself in beach wear such as quick drying tank tops/singlets, broad shorts and flip flops (also known as tongs in Australia). People in dry clothes are a sure target to the crowd.
Tip 4: Bring a waterproof bag
Invest in a waterproof bag if you are going to bring anything important (such as money, mobile phone, or even your camera) to the water festival. This waterproof bag will keep your belongings dry. (look at my friend’s transparent sling bag on the far left, slung across his shoulder). Also, keep your passport, travel visa and other important documents in the hotel’s safe, and beware of pickpockets.
Tip 5: Get armed – Size does matter
When at the festival, you will need water-guns for your water fights, but the biggest guns always wins as it can hold more water and has a better water pressure system to shoot far. Shopping for water-guns can be a challenge as vendors tend to mark up their price. Walk around and check out the prices before you make your purchase.
Tip 6: Water ammunition reload
Refilling your water-gun cost 10 to 20 Thai Baht .Vendors selling the water guns also sell water for refilling. However you can also refill your guns at public mobile toilets or toilets at eateries if you don’t mind the queuing.
Tip 7: Plan a meetup point
As the water fight areas tend to get really crowded with locals and tourist alike, plan a meeting place in advance with friends in-case you become separated/or lost. Popular meet up points are BTS/train stations or even popular eateries like Burger King/KFC joints.
Tip 8: Be patient and don’t take things personally
Long queues are expected during songkran to enter the water fight areas. Be patient and queue for entrance. Bag checks are to be expected by security officers if you are caring a big bag, and do not take things personally against passerby who blasts you with ice-cold water or shop owners who hurls buckets of water at you. Lighten up and get involve. It will be fun time.
So there’s my top 8 tips for Songkran. Water-fights, street food (Thai fishcake/fishball/sausages) and meeting new friends is so fun. I had a great time and i am sure you will too.
Thank you for reading! Feel free to comment or send me an email if you have any inquires. 🙂
Songkran festivals are held annually from 13 April till 15 April.
Admission to water fight areas are free.
Prices of Water Guns varies from about 250 Bhat to 600 Bhat