Buddhist new year is a time for renewal, spiritual cleansing and super soakers… what!? Yes that's right folks, if you happen to be in Thailand between the 13-15 April, you can't fail to get involved in what is the world's biggest water fight!
Getting soaked at Songkran Festival - all part of the fun!
People of all ages across the land gather together in the streets to celebrate in the wettest way possible. Garden hoses, water pistols and buckets filled with ice cold water are chucked at innocent passers-by. Don't even think you will be able to stay dry during the festivities as pesky kids loiter at corners waiting for a victim who has not yet been completely drenched. So if you can't beat them - join them! Get yourself kitted out with the best water pistol money can buy at the 7-11 and become part of the excited crowds!
Backpackers and locals join in the Songkran fun
Spiritually, new year means new beginnings, washing off the previous year and starting afresh and the watery madness that exists today evolves from a Buddhist tradition dating back thousands of years. People used to pay respect and wish good luck by pouring blessed water on each other's shoulders. One important ritual today is to sprinkle Buddha statues with water to symbolize purification and hope for prosperity in the new year. In many cities across the land Buddha images from the temples are paraded through the streets on floats for people to throw water over them.
S.E.A Backpacker Magazine gets a soggy blessing for new year!
Happy Songkran Everyone!
Best 3 Places to Engjoy Songkran in Thailand:
1. Songkran in Chiang Mai:
The number 1 place to play Songkran has to be northern Thailand's capital of culture, Chiang Mai. Thousands of people descend on the city to celebrate Songkran in a big way. Pick up trucks circle the moat armed with endless supplies of water soaking anyone within reach, the cruelest making sure that it is ice cold for added effect! Music blasts from bars, people dress in the ubiquitous brightly coloured flowery shirt and the old town becomes an all-day party!
Endless Songkran water supply from the moat in Chiang Mai
2. Songkran in Bangkok (Khao San Road):
It's not just tourists that enjoy Songkran in the backpacker enclave of Khao San Road, as Bangkok locals head here to enjoy the festivities in an international setting! Here, you will not only get completely drenched, you will likely be covered in talcum powder which is smeared over people's faces and in their hair - just for fun!
It's Songkran with a difference in Kanchanaburi where locals and tourists can rent a bamboo raft for the day on the tribiutaries of the River Kwai and use it as a vehicle with which to soak those having a picnic on the banks of the river… mwahahaha! Later in town, cheap alcohol (10 baht rum & coke!) and great live music ensures a party lasting into the night.
Top 3 Songkran Tips:
- Mobile phones, cameras, electrical goods of any kind will get wet! You can try to wrap them up in plastic bags, but unless you have a really good waterproof bag, our advice is to leave them at home.
- Don't think because you are out in the countryside in the middle of nowhere that you will be able to stay dry. Songkran takes place all over the country and rest assured that a child will find you driving around happily on your motorbike in a remote province and chuck a bucket over your head.
- It's the hottest time of the year in Thailand, so wear sunscreen, drink some water rather than throw it all over everyone and go easy on the alcohol.