The Songkran festival starts off like any other day in Thailand. You’d wake up to see the sun already well into its arc of the sky. You can feel the heat of summer as you rise from your bed. Looking outside everything looks normal.
Unless you’ve been to Songkran before, or have visited just about any part of Thailand during mid-April, you wouldn’t know that at midday, something spectacular happens. The streets begin to fill with people holding buckets of water, water pistols and water guns, fire trucks wait amid the bustling crowd and painted elephants move into position.
Tension runs high and the air bristles with excited anticipation. You can see it on the faces of the passersby. What you’re about to experience is the world’s largest water fight; Songkran.
At High Noon
At twelve, a breaking wave washes over cities throughout Thailand but it is in Patong where the festivities last for longer than the typical 24 hours. Revelry is the order of the day and even the police (yes, those that uphold the law) are prime targets for anyone and everyone.
Songkran is an event that for some people means showing respect to elders and cleansing away the sins of the past as they enter the New Year. For others (okay, most of them) Songkran is a perfect reason to go crazy, get wet, and then help as many other people as possible experience what it’s like to be dunked by buckets of ice water.
Think of the recent ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and times that by about a thousand and you’d probably be getting pretty close to the merriment that is Thailand’s New Year’s celebration. No one is immune from the allure of water! The children you saw playing happily and keeping to themselves the day before are now unleashing all sorts of watery doom and you’ll never be able to look at a child holding a water pistol the same way again without feeling a great sense of anxiety.
Once the action starts, it’s on for everyone!
Are You Hooked On Songkran?
Many visitors and backpackers return to Thailand every year specifically for Songkran and it’s no wonder why. There are few places left in the world where you can indulge in your darker side and splash somebody without ruining their day.
And even the animals know it, too. If getting sprayed with water by an elephant is on your bucket list then you’ll have ticked that off within just a few hours at Songkran. You’ll see them coming a mile away but there’ll be little you can do about it.
Don’t Be Left High And Dry!
If you make it through the three days of torrential terror and manage not to get wet (which you won’t) then you’ll have missed out on one of the greatest opportunities and holidays anywhere in the world. Remember to leave all your valuables such as your keys, wallet, money, mobile phone and any other technological devices where they are safe – in your hotel room. They won’t save you from getting wet, even if you actively tried to use them as a shield.
If you’re like most people, and one festival was simply wasn’t enough, book your flights and accommodation to the region early for the next year as hotels near the action fill up fast. This is after all, the Songkran festival.
So don’t be left high and dry; get into the action!