The Songkran festival is celebrated in Thailand in mid-April. Different provinces may have varying lengths of celebrations but the main dates are April 13-15. This is the Thai equivalent to New Year.
Traditionally Songkran is a time to cleanse Buddha images and then use this same “blessed” water to pour over family and friends shoulders to bring good luck for the New Year, and wash away the bad. Traditional ceremonies still take place at temples (Wats) and in some places Buddha images are paraded through the streets for people to throw water and cleanse as they pass by. Other traditions include bringing sand and building sand pagodas decorated with flags and coins from the sand accidentally removed from the temple on your feet throughout the year.
Recently the festival has grown and grown and the water throwing ceremony has turned into the world’s biggest water fight!
Whether it is water pulled from the moat in Chiang Mai or the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok, you are going to get wet! Thousands of people roam the city with water guns soaking each other and passing vehicles. Groups of people sit in the back of pick-up trucks with barrels of water, sometimes icy cold, dousing pedestrians as they drive past.
Me (white T-shirt) taking a direct hit to the face from passing armoured vehicle in Chiang Mai.
For Songkran 2013 I was in Bangkok with my group. We only needed to go as far as the front door of the hotel and we were in the thick of the action, we spent hours ‘defending the hotel’ on the hotel steps. Attempting to make your way down the small narrow Soi (lane) lined with water guns became known as ‘running the gauntlet’. With a deluge of water falling from people with buckets on a 3rd floor balcony of another hotel and about 100 super soakers on the street – the outcome was inevitable.
A man ‘running the gauntlet’ passed our hotel. (Blurred photo is the best I could do given the situation).
For three days the area around our hotel was packed full of festival goers soaking each other and enjoying the many street parties and live music.
Tip: If you are arriving or leaving your hotel with luggage during the Songkran please make sure it is waterproof. New unsuspecting people arriving from the airport, looking for their hotel, were not given any special treatment. See photo.
Me and some of my group preparing to leave the hotel to the train station on the final day of Songkran. (Prepared!)
Our tours visit the two most famous places for Songkran in Thailand, Chiang Mai old town and the Khao San area of Bangkok. Take a look at the website and join in a tour for Songkran 2014!
Chris is Tour Leader for Tucan Travel in South East Asia. He will be celebrating Songkran in Bangkok this year with his group. Browse Group Tours that will be around Bangkok for Songkran here.