If any festival is going to regress you back to a time when life was care free and you could run around soaking one another, head to Chiang Mai for the world’s largest water fight. It is hilarious!
That evening, as we rode to the petrol station in the dark, we felt the full force of party-goers as another bucket of water was thrown directly at our faces; it’s no wonder there are double the amount of accidents at this time of year than any other. During the 2016 Songkran festivities, 442 deaths and 3,656 injuries occurred from 11–17 April, the majority of these happened between 4pm – 8pm of which 80% were motorcycles. We won’t be making that mistake again; trips to the Old Town for the next few days will be by taxi only!
At lunchtime there was a cease fire; if you walked into a back-street café for food, guns were laid down on the table and people sipped a cold Chang as some respite from the heat of the day, re-fuelled their tummies with a cheap and flavoursome dish.
Songkran can be punishingly cruel at times, the lesson here is, do not enter Old Town during this time of year in a tuk-tuk, driving a scooter, on a bicycle or on foot unless you are armed… it’s the rules… if you do then you are fair game. We also found out the hard way!
Songkran survival tips:
- Dress appropriately; it is advisable for ladies not to wear white otherwise you will end up looking as if you have entered a wet-t-shirt competition!
- Wear quick dry clothes such as board shorts or gym tops, maybe wear swimmers underneath.
- If you are not comfortable running around in wet flip-flops on a soaking wet pavement, wear walking sandals – remember, safety first!
- Wear sunglasses or safety goggles if you are worried about getting water in your eye, it’s good protection which is often needed.
- Water pistols and buckets are sold all along the streets so it’s easy to take part in the action.
- Put all of your valuables in a waterproof bag or dry bag – you will regret it if you don’t!
- You can buy a waterproof pouch for your phone at stands that sell water pistols.
- Play fair – don’t squirt people directly in the face/eyes as it’s dangerous and not part of festival spirit, especially if someone is driving!!!
- If you don’t want to get wet, stay away from the Old Town during Songkran!
- Don't throw water or squirt people outside of the Old Town who clearly do not wish to get wet, they are staying out of the action for a reason.
- HAVE FUN! This a time for people to come together and celebrate so if you squirt someone accidentally, apologise and don’t take it too seriously.
How to get to Songkran
Songrkan is celebrated in various places throughout Thailand, but Chiang Mai is where it officially started and is considered "the capital of Songkran".
By plane: Air Asia fly to Chiang Mai from Bangkok and most other Asian cities.
By train: The overnight train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai takes around 12 hours but is comfortable and there is a buffet cart on board. Seat 61 website can help with the train times and information you need to book. We used (and I would recommend) the agent 12Go who are situated directly opposite Bangkok's Hua Lamphong train station where you will catch the train. Note: It is advised to book early as this is the busiest time of year and trains fill up quickly.
Have you been to Songkran or is this something you would like to do? Let us know in the comments below.
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