We hope you love the story through a foreigner’s perspective. Don’t forget to discover the traditional side of Songkran with our timeless guide by locals, Songkran Festival: The Ultimate Guide to Thai New Year and Thai Water Festival.
Let’s say that you can’t stay dry!
Note: Songkran 2020 events held in April is postponed. Substitution date will be announced.
The probability is that you’ll be wet for 3 days in a row. And don’t be silly like my boyfriend that thought he could stay dry just because we weren’t holding a water gun. As soon as he left the taxi, the bucket of cold water taught him a lesson: If you are on the streets during Songkran 2020, you are gonna be soaked from head to toe.
Songkran festival is the moment of the year everybody waits for. Locals have the days off to celebrate and welcome the Thai New Year. Travelers from all around the world head to Bangkok, Chiang Mai and the Thai Islands to witness the water fight and have fun on the streets. But there are a few things that every farang (a Western tourist) should know. And no one better than a foreigner to explain you the Songkran 2020 Do’s and Dont’s!
Last year was my first Songkran, between water buckets and a lot of laughs, I learned that Songkran Festival is way more special than most of the tourists think, and more fun than they expect. So before we talk about yes and no, let me tell you what Songkran means below:
Songkran is the Thai New Year, a religious holiday where people pay respect to Buddha, to the monks, to their families and friends. The splash of water is a symbolic way to wash off all the misfortune, to start a fresh and clean new year. In the past it was small bowls of water thrown between family and friends. Nowadays we have buckets, water guns, hoses and doesn’t matter who is passing by, everybody gets a splash or two.
Songkran 2020 Do’s:
Protect you money and phone
Before even buying a water gun, you must purchase a ziplock or a small waterproof bag to keep your valuables dry during the water fight. You can find touch screen ziplock bags too. In case you need to scroll through your phone having super slippery hands! And only carry with you what is really necessary.
Get ready to fight
Songkran is a peaceful festival, but funny enough, everybody has water guns in hands. Don’t waste time, find the coolest gun that suits your style and head out. Buckets are also welcomed, along with garden hoses and kitchen bowls.
Wear proper clothes and shoes
You are gonna be wet, so choose your clothes wisely. Light and fast dry fabrics are the best. Underneath, a swimsuit or beach shorts are a must. Flipflops are okay, but I recommend you to wear something that can protect your feet and that will be safe to walk on the slippery streets. Goggles or sunglasses are a plus since you don’t have to keep wiping your eyes every time someone splashes you! No worries if you have none of these. Most Songkran streets are full of pop up stalls selling you the cheapest and coolest ones!
Play safe and clean
Use only clean water, from the tap or from the big barrels you can find around the city.
Learn how to say “Sawasdee Pee Mai!”
It means happy new year in Thai language. Be a nice farang, after throwing water into people, wish them happiness, and avoid using the powder paste.
Attend the Splendours Songkran Parade
On mid-April of each year, the Amazing Songkran Parade usually happens along Wisutkasat Road, under Rama XIII Bridge. And yes, though the April event has bee postponed this year, the parade will undoubtedly be back once Songkran is held. Come join the colorful parade filled with endless cultural activities. And yes, don’t miss the original Miss Songkran Contest!
Use public transportation
If you are celebrating Songkran in Bangkok, many streets are closed (so we can have the largest ground for our fun water fight, of course). Going to the celebration spots using public transportation then will definitely be faster and safer. If you are in the islands, get a traditional Song-Thaew, and have fun on the way.
Respect people and places
The water fight happens on the streets, respect the shops and markets that might stay open during the holiday. Be polite and don’t splash the water indoors, neither on people who are working. Not all of them can join the wet water fight.
That’s the best thing from Songkran Festival, get your chance out and talk with different people, make new friends and celebrate life among thousands of strangers from all over the world.
Songkran 2020 Don’ts
Use the road safely, don’t drink and drive!
It’s wrong during any time of the year, but during Songkran day, drink and drive can be even more dangerous. Use public transportation and taxis. And yes, we know that on the Thai Islands, most of the people rent scooters. So if you ride a motorbike during Songkran, use your helmet all the time.
Never throw water on motorbikes
This is dangerous and every year, people get seriously hurt because of throwing water at motorcyclists. Play safe and avoid accidents.
Mind your power
Things can get really ugly if you don’t mind the power of your gun or buckets. We are on the streets to have fun and play, avoid shooting water on people’s face or eyes. Be gentle!
Respect monks, elderly and babies
Splashing water is great but never do it to monks, elderly people or babies. This is a big no-no, and if you end up doing it by mistake, apologize straight away!
Never stop smiling
This the last don’t and one of my favorites: Don’t stop smiling during Songkran!
Songkran is traditionally a 3 day festival, but depending on where you are, the celebrations can last for 10 days or even a month. Don’t burn all your energy on the first day, so take it easy and enjoy the whole festival.
Wondering when will Songkran 2020 events be held again? Check out our DAILY NEWSROOM on the updates of the ongoing COVID-19 situation in Thailand
Author: Natalie Deduck
A world traveler that left her heart in Thailand. Read more about her at www.loveandroad.com