Ready for deployment to the world’s largest water fight? Let’s swing into action in Thailand!
One of the most iconic attractions from the ‘Land of Smiles’, Songkran is an important event in the Thai calendar, marking the New Year and fresh beginnings. It is easy to look at it as water war on steroids, but the festivities actually have a lot of cultural symbolisms. Thai nationals regard water dousing as a symbol of purification, and maximise the long holiday to observe traditions like family reunions, temple visits and alms offering.
For foreigners, Songkran is mainly one thing: WATER FIGHT!!!
Similar celebrations are also practised in neighbouring countries, where it is known as Choul Chnam Thmey in Cambodia, Pi Mai in Laos, and Thingyan in Myanmar. It is held between April 13 and 15. Some provinces extend the festival for days.
Here are some survival tips for Songkran:
1. Recruit your squad
It is a war zone and you’re going to need your squad when you plan a counter attack on that cheeky group of teenagers perched on the back of a pickup truck. Convince your friends that it’s worth the airplane ticket to Bangkok for this.
But if your friends choose to decline the sweet offer, plan your Songkran trip regardless. It’s always possible to make new friends at the hostel or turn the enemy you neutralised into a sidekick. Last resort, go solo like Rambo.
2. Select your battle arena
If you find yourself anywhere in Thailand during Songkran, you’re going to get drenched and loving it. The celebrations tend to be the biggest in Bangkok, where you can expect to shoulder brush with soggy hippies congregating at the backpackers’ mecca of Khao San Road, or join in the marches at Silom Road, a top battle spot with a whole 3km stretch closed off to motorists.
In Chiang Mai, there would be so much water splashing around the Old City you’d probably feel like it is the Lost City of Atlantis. If you go to Pattaya, Phuket, or Hua Hin, you can switch between being wet in sea water and getting soaked in ice cold water from time to time all day long!
3. Up your arsenal
You don’t need to buy a water pistol at home. April is the month when you will see more waterguns than ‘Same Same But Different’ t-shirts being sold all over Thailand. They come in all sorts of dimensions and fire, or rather, water power – small pistols, super blasters, turbo jets, backpack waterjets, or even the good ol’ pails.
4. Grab your waterproof pouch
You will see vendors selling these waterproof pouches in many colours and cartoon designs. Find one to match your watergun. The more haphazardly dressed you are from head to toe, the more it adds to the fun factor. Leave your essentials at the guest house (make sure they’re locked safely), just bring your mobile phone and some money for snacks and the tuk tuk or train ride. You’re not going to need anything else in the battlefield.
5. Put on a fabulous flower shirt
On the weeks before and around the Thai New Year, you will see families or shops dressing their employees in matching flower shirts. Join them! The flower shirts are cheap and can be worn on your trip to Hawaii or to the next music festival. They can be easily found at any markets or shopping stretches near your hotel, as well as big supermarkets like Tesco Lotus.
Also, don’t wear white. This may seem obvious but some people do need a reminder to not be see through. Unless you’ve got abs like Captain America, who can go shirtless if he so wants to.
6. Don’t ride a motorcycle
The roads are slippery! Don’t simply assume that the kind aunties by the roadside or the smiling kindergartener will spare you the attacks just because you’re riding a motorcycle because they will splash you! If you still need to make the trip on two wheels, use a full face helmet, ride slowly and avoid all the major roads.
If possible, use public transportation like trains or tuk tuk, where you will also be splashed but without the responsibility of manoeuvring heavy machinery.
7. Find a good spot as your base
While it’s so much fun to run around squirting water at everyone, it’s also good to set up a base. Every few metres along the combat area there will be huge water tubs set up by thoughtful shopkeepers or home owners. Choose one that is loaded with ice! This is when your war strategy will go up a notch. Set aside your guns for a moment and perform the ultimate barrage of pouring COLD WATER directly from a mini pail. The mere mortals will not know what hit them! 😉
It’s also good to have a base to serve as a rendezvous point in case any of your squad member decides to penetrate the enemy lines solo.
8. Respect the people
One of the best things about Songkran is how everyone you meet will either be an enemy or ally or both at the same time. Spare your attacks on babies, the elderly, as well as monks.
But for every other person that dares to be on your path, flash them your biggest grin, aim well, scream Sawadee Pee Mai or Happy New Year, and fire away!
Ready for battle? Grab your comrades and let’s plan a trip for Songkran! Get the best flight and accommodation deals via airasia.com today.