From the 13th of April up to the 15th the Thaïs celebrate the end of the year and beginning of the new one which in a festival called Songkran. And at The Orient Excess we love festivals! And when that festival looks like this, well, we just can’t resist!
While the festival is observed all throughout Thailand, the North of the country and Chiang Mai in particular love to do it big time !
People mainly know about the tradition of throwing water, there are a couple more traditions that come with Songkran : some people bring sand to their nearby monastery which will be shaped into stupas and decorated with flags, others bathe buddha images or paint one another with chalk as a type of blessing.
If the throwing of water used to be a blessing and a way to pay respect to people, it is now more of a fun way to escape the heat and enjoy a giant water fight in the streets. And everybody gets involved, from young children to their elderly Grandparents, many brandishing brightly coloured water cannons, and others resorting to more old fashioned (but no less effective) implements such as buckets and pans. But no matter what weapon you bring to the fight, there’s an absolute certainty that you’ll be going home soaked.
When is Songkran?
Songkran takes place between the 13th and the 15th of April. Those days are suppose to be the hottest of the year and are perfect for this activity.
What do you need to know for Songkran?
Bring clothes you don’t mind getting dirty and wet (maybe avoid white if you don’t want to reveal too much once a bucket has been thrown at you), cover you camera very well (DIY covers made of plastic bags and tape can work well, I have tried) and do not go there to expect something very serious. Songkran is a lot of fun, if you don’t want to get wet then just avoid the city centre.
If you are planning to join the party try to book your hotel in advance. It’s very popular in Chiang Mai and rooms tend to be booked very quickly.
If you are hoping to pass the center of Chiang Mai during those 3 days without getting splashed well… surely you are going to get a bad surprise. So come and leave the bad being washed away from you ! Join the fun and enjoy this Buddhist celebration !
A word of advice:
Be careful with the water used during Songkran: it usually comes from the river and is not clean at all. Close your mouth when you are being under attack!
Some people also love to add ice in their buckets so look out for those! And of course do not throw ice on anybody! It hurts and could ruin the fun!
Our experience of Songkran:
We left for the old town center on our motorcycle around the moat, where most of the action takes place, camera protected with some plastic and duck tape (DIY for the win, it did survive buckets of water!), ready for some action and really had a lot of fun. We’d experience this again if we were given the occasion and we surely didn’t regret staying in Thailand for this.
Here is a gallery of shots taken during Songkran on the 1st day of this celebration, the 13th of April 2014, in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Where is Songkran?
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