One of the event’s I was not going to miss whilst in Southeast Asia earlier this year was the Thai New Year Festival; Songkran. The infamous 4 day ‘waterfight’ that takes place the length & breadth of Thailand took place between 13th – 15th April this year (well it actually started to get going on 12th and didn’t finish fully until 16th!). I did blog about this at the time for my friends & family which you can read here, but I thought a dedicated post would be useful for anyone thinking of going.
As the date started to draw in I started wondering where the best place to spend Songkran would be…Khao San road would be a good option, or maybe one of the islands, but for all those backpackers I spoke to the unanimous answer was Chaing Mai..the epicentre!
I left Vietnam and flew down to Bangkok on 9th April to give me enough time to get the overnight train up to Chiang Mai, but when I got to the train station a few days before to book my ticket, the train up on the 12th was fully booked with all the Thai’s fleeing Bangkok for the holidays! Luckily there was one bunk left on the train on the 11th so I quickly grabbed it 🙂 phew!
It was so good to finally get to Chiang Mai after almost 4 months of travelling, and at a time where many many other travellers would be congregating to party hard (and get wet!). I managed through another stroke of luck to get myself booked into the highly recommended hostel; Deejai Backpackers for 120 Baht a night (4 bed fan dorm), and then proceeded to get my VERY hot bum over to their swimming pool. There is a reason why Songkran involves water – apart from the main reason of it being a progression over the years from a religious blessing to a full blown waterfight (!!) – April is damn hot as we were getting into low season, so most Thai’s want to ‘cool off’!
So…onto the main event! Once I’d gathered some party comrades, the 3-4 day relentless waterfight/party commenced and man did it deliver! Oh I should probably mention at this point that this is where I met Greg… he was hanging out at Deejai Backpackers bar and after an initial false start I didn’t leave his side for 2 months following this!!
Every morning started with the gauntlet to get some breakfast…even first thing in the morning the Thai’s are there waiting with ice cold buckets of water, supersoakers or even just a water hose to soak you through! now you would think this would be refreshing in such heat (and it was!) but ice cold water just goes a little too far in my book, but hey..in for a penny in for a pound 🙂
It was day on day of dodging getting soaked, fighting back with our measly 400 baht supersoakers that constantly ran out of water, and partying to the banging music pouring out of the bars all around the Taipei gate area.
By 7pm most of the waterfighting dies down (apart the odd annoying Thai child who does not understand the phase “please no more, no more”!) and the evening shenanigans begin…party, party, party 🙂
Now, this was a marathon not a sprint so the partying needed pacing, but every morning to ‘wake us up’ was a visit to Crazy Locos for a ‘Mugarita’, well when in Rome…
Tips for surviving Songkran:
– Book your accommodation and travel as far ahead as possible to avoid getting caught short – you will have a much better time if you are staying in the right place
– Buy a watergun before Songkran to get it as cheap as possible and bring it with you
– One thing I wished I could have bought was a waterproof camera! trying to take photos with my phone without getting it wet was a hard task, but I couldn’t find one anywhere
– Buy a waterproof bag to store your stuff in while you’re out and about
– A bikini under your clothes is a useful ‘hack’ … a wet bra is not pleasant trust me!
– Check out who else you know that might be in the same area for Songkran..at least 2 people I’d met on my travels popped up in Chiang Mai during that week
– Most people vacate Chiang Mai the day after Songkran finishes and head to Pai
I would definitely recommend Chiang Mai as the place to celebrate Songkran but I’ve heard just as many great things about Khao San road and many of the islands… so young reader, the choice is yours 😉
Celebrated Songkran and have a cool story…feel free to share 🙂