Have you heard of Songkran before? It is the celebration of the Thai New Year. Everyone should experience Songkran at least once in their lifetime. It is a festival that has to be experienced to be believed! You may have already seen videos depicting those energetic water fights with both the young and old alike joining in. Travelers from around the world also journey to Thailand annually to experience this vibrant three-day festival with locals and the expats that are here on a Thai visa.
From the 13th and 15th of April each year, the nation grinds almost to a halt. Many locals return to their hometowns to celebrate this popular festival. That’s why international travelers can experience the merriment and mayhem of Songkran all around Thailand during this time. You can expect to find massive street parties and water fights galore in popular tourist hotspots such as Bangkok, Phuket, Pattaya, and Chiang Mai. Let’s find out how you can celebrate this festival like the local Thais!
Celebrate with the Elephants
If you spend Songkran in a city or town that is known for having elephants, you will get to see elephant trainers and handlers proudly riding the magnificent animals out onto the streets to join in the fun. It is impossible to miss the elephants because they are well-decorated with colourful images and messages. Now the fun part. The elephants are known to fill their trunks with water and discharging it all over the nearby crowd. Do not be afraid to spray the elephants as well! Some of the best locations to see elephants joining in with the revelry include Surin, Chiang Mai, and Ayutthaya.
Let them Powder Your Face
During Songkran, you can see many people smearing thick off-white paste on each other’s face. This pasty substance is made by mixing a small amount of water with chalky powder. Interestingly, this one of the Thai traditional ways to wish people good luck and fortune for the next 12 months. The practice is said to have originated from monks, who also utilized chalk to bestow blessings on people. Don’t be surprised to see residue being splashed over cars and the streets. It is perfectly normal! In addition, try not to get the powder or paste in your eyes, they can cause a stinging sensation.
The Water Supply is All Around
Yes, sooner or later, your water supply is going to run out. But not to worry, you do not have to chug along a pail of water wherever you go. As most locals join in the Songkran water fights from outside their shop or home, they have already filled up large containers with water. They will splash whoever or whatever passes by. Next, most of them are more than happy to let you stop and refill your vats. However, be prepared to get even wetter in the process though!
Jump in the back of a Pickup Truck
Many Thai locals ride down the streets in pickup trucks. They will stop to spray water at others on the side of the road. Some even slow down to engage in water warfare with other vehicles. Sounds like fun? If the answer is yes for you, forget wandering the streets with just a water pistol. Fill up a decent sized container with water and toss a giant block of ice for good measure. Don’t forget to bring along a few plastic buckets. Hopping aboard a pickup truck with your contributions is one of the liveliest ways to enjoy the street parties. You will get to see people dancing and music blaring in the streets. If you are lucky, you may come across fire engines that are part of the water throwing fun.
Remember, Safety First!
Before you head out, it is imperative that you practice safety at all times. While Songkran is heaps of fun, it is also the period when Thailand faces a high number of road accidents. If you are driving yourself, never drive under the influence of alcohol. Next, it is recommended that you keep your valuables inside your own vehicle or in waterproof bags. While using cold water is common, you should never ever throw ice at people. Throw water only!
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