Are you planning a trip to Thailand in mid-April? If so, you might want to check your calendar and see if your visit coincides with the famous Songkran Water Festival. This four-day festival marks the Thai New Year and is known for its wild water fights and lively celebrations. As someone who experienced Songkran firsthand, I can tell you that it is an experience like no other. From water guns to buckets of ice-cold water, this festival is not for the faint of heart. But don’t worry, I’ve got you covered with my survival guide to the Songkran Water Festival. So let’s dive in and get ready for the most fun you’ll ever have in Thailand!
What is Songkran?
Songkran is the traditional Thai New Year celebration, which takes place from April 13th to 15th every year. The word “Songkran” comes from the Sanskrit word saṃkrānti, meaning transformation. It is a time for new beginnings and letting go of the past. In the past, Songkran was celebrated by visiting temples and pouring water on Buddha statues as a symbol of purification and washing away sins. However, over the years, it has evolved into a massive water fight festival.
When does Songkran fall?
As mentioned earlier, Songkran falls on April 13th to 15th every year. However, in some parts of Thailand, the celebrations can last up to a week. The main days of the festival are April 13th, which is known as Maha Songkran Day, April 14th, which is Wan Nao Day, and April 15th, which is Wan Thaloeng Sok Day. These three days are considered the most important and are when the water fights are at their peak.
Where to go for Songkran?
Songkran is celebrated all over Thailand, but some cities are known for their grand celebrations. The most popular places to celebrate Songkran are Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Phuket. These cities attract thousands of tourists every year who come to experience the festival’s unique energy and excitement. However, if you want a more authentic and less crowded experience, you can also visit smaller towns and villages where locals celebrate in a more traditional way.
What to pack for Songkran?
When it comes to packing for Songkran, there are a few essential items that you should not forget. First and foremost, make sure to bring a waterproof bag or cover for your phone and other valuables. You will be getting wet, so it’s better to be safe than sorry. Also, pack a change of clothes and a towel, as you will get soaked during the water fights. It’s also a good idea to bring a waterproof camera or a GoPro to capture all the fun moments. And lastly, don’t forget to pack sunscreen and a hat to protect yourself from the scorching sun.
Essential items to pack for Songkran:
- Waterproof bag/cover
- Change of clothes and towel
- Waterproof camera/GoPro
- Sunscreen and hat
Tips for surviving Songkran
Now that you know what to pack, here are some tips to help you survive the Songkran Water Festival:
1. Embrace the chaos
Songkran is a chaotic and messy festival, and that’s part of its charm. So instead of trying to avoid getting wet, embrace the chaos and join in on the fun. Let your guard down and enjoy the water fights with the locals and other tourists.
2. Protect your valuables
As mentioned earlier, make sure to protect your valuables by keeping them in a waterproof bag or cover. You can also purchase a waterproof phone case to ensure that your phone stays dry during the water fights.
3. Wear appropriate clothing
It’s important to wear clothes that you don’t mind getting wet and dirty. Avoid wearing white or light-colored clothes as they can become see-through when wet. Also, wear comfortable shoes as you will be walking and running around a lot.
4. Stay hydrated
With all the excitement and heat, it’s easy to forget to stay hydrated. Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day to avoid dehydration. You can also bring a reusable water bottle with you and refill it at the many water stations set up during the festival.
5. Respect the locals
Remember that Songkran is a traditional festival for the locals, so it’s essential to respect their customs and traditions. Don’t throw water at monks, the elderly, or anyone who doesn’t want to participate. And always ask for permission before taking someone’s photo.
Celebrating Songkran in Phuket
My husband and I had the opportunity to celebrate Songkran in Phuket, and it was an experience we will never forget. The streets were filled with people armed with water guns and buckets, ready to drench anyone in sight. We joined in on the fun and spent hours running around and getting soaked. The atmosphere was electric, and everyone was in high spirits, making it a truly unforgettable experience.
If you’re planning to celebrate Songkran in Phuket, here are some places you should definitely check out:
Patong Beach is known for its wild and lively Songkran celebrations. The entire beach road turns into a massive water fight zone, with music, food stalls, and people from all over the world coming together to celebrate.
Bangla Road is the heart of Phuket’s nightlife, and during Songkran, it becomes even more vibrant. The street is lined with bars and clubs, and during the festival, they set up stages for live music and DJs. It’s a great place to party and cool off with a drink in hand.
Old Town Phuket
For a more traditional Songkran experience, head to Old Town Phuket. Here, you will find locals celebrating with water fights, traditional dances, and food stalls selling delicious Thai dishes. It’s a great place to immerse yourself in the local culture and enjoy the festivities.
What to do if you need to avoid Songkran?
While Songkran is a fun and exciting festival, it’s not for everyone. If you’re not a fan of getting wet or being in large crowds, here are some things you can do to avoid Songkran:
1. Book a hotel away from the main celebrations
If you want to avoid the chaos, make sure to book a hotel away from the main Songkran celebrations. This way, you can still enjoy the festival but have a peaceful place to retreat to when you need a break.
2. Visit temples
As mentioned earlier, Songkran has its roots in Buddhist traditions, so visiting temples during this time is a great way to experience the festival in a more traditional way. You can also participate in the water pouring ceremony at the temples, which is a beautiful and meaningful experience.
3. Explore other parts of Thailand
If you’re not too keen on Songkran, you can always explore other parts of Thailand that are not as heavily affected by the festival. Head to the islands or smaller towns where the celebrations are more low-key, and you can still enjoy the beauty of Thailand without the chaos.
In conclusion, the Songkran Water Festival is a must-visit if you’re in Thailand during mid-April. It’s a unique and exciting experience that you won’t find anywhere else in the world. Just remember to pack appropriately, stay hydrated, and respect the locals, and you’ll have the time of your life. So go ahead and add Songkran to your bucket list – I promise you won’t regret it!