Showers of Blessings at Songkran

I have always wanted to visit the famous Songkran Festival in Thailand, especially so after I met Mai and Cheer, my two besties from Thailand. So when I finally decided to go, I was all psyched up to get soaked! Of course, nothing can ever prepare you for the real thing – being out with the crowd at infamous Khaosan, getting sprayed at by a supersoaker, getting smeared with a gooey mixture of powder and water, getting soaked by a bucket of iced cold water! Afterall, it is one of the biggest festivals in Thailand, and what better way to bring in the new year than with showers of blessing?


When to visit? 

Songkran Festival marks the Thai New Year and is celebrated from 13th to 15th Apr every
year. There are a few key places in Thailand to for the massive Songkran Festivals – Bangkok, Pattaya and Chiang Mai! We chose to visit Bangkok simply because it is a familiar place, with familiar faces, and when we are done with being soaked, we can seek respite in shopping or eating!
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Ready for a splashin’ good time? 

What to bring?
Now, the correct equipment to bring is key to enjoying Songkran. Here is a list of recommended items:
  • Water GunNEVER leave your hotel without it. In fact, be prepared to be sprayed at once you’re on the street! Of course, if you’re dressed too formally, people may just avoid you altogether. In choosing a gun, get one that can hold a fair bit of water so you don’t have to keep refilling it. You may also want to get one that has more than one nozzle, or a powerful nozzle, so that you can have wider reach. The water guns are available at convenience stalls, as well as street stalls at the Songkran parties.
  • The correct outfit – It seems like there was a fashion memo to dress up in flowery prints. Perhaps it is something to do with the arrival of spring, or a summery thing? We noticed a lot of people wearing flowery t-shirts, and so we got ourselves some too. In any case, dress light (but not white), and get ready to be drenched. Some partiers even wear goggles to protect their eyes.
  • Waterproof everything – To keep things simple, get a small waterproof pouch (easily available everywhere, or at street stalls at Songkran parties) and put your cash and phone inside. Leave the valuables like passports in the hotel.
  • Loose change – You will find top-up “stations” at the Songkran parties where you can top up the ammunition for your water guns. Sometimes it’s free, and sometimes you’d have to pay a small fee. Bring loose change so that the process will be more swift and you can get back into the battleground quickly.
  • Practice saying “Sawadee Pee Mai!” to everyone!

What to do? 
  • Join the water fights! 
    The highlight of the Songkran Festival is the water fights happening on every street! Traditionally, the splashing symbolises well-wishing; the washing away of bad luck and welcoming a fresh start to the new year! For the ultimate experience, head to Khao San, where the entire street is closed off to vehicles. Everyone goes through a police checkpoint where you’d be asked to get rid of your bottles, cans and talcum powder. The crowd is packed shoulder to shoulder as everyone shuffles down the street, everyone armed with a water gun. The street is lined with the staff from the bars, spraying powerful jets of water at anyone and everyone. You can also take a break and seek respite at one of the bars.Another place you can visit is Silom, where the action takes place right on the main street under the BTS line. Over there you can choose your combat style – sit and ambush, or hit and run. Since our group was really small (only 3 of us), we parked ourselves near a water supply and with a huge group, waiting for any innocent party walking by.
  • Experience the spiritual aspect of the festival
    Visit the temples to experience a very different aspect of the national holiday. During Songkran, the locals visit temples to make merit. Activities at the temples include bathing Buddha images (by pouring fragrant water over Buddha statues), receiving blessings from the monks, and building sand pagodas. We visited Wat Pho and Wat Arun for this traditional experience!

How long to stay?
 
13th Apr / Day 1
  • Arrive at BKK late at night, check into Royal View Resort (check out my TA review here) near Victory Monument BTS.
  • Grab some nice supper, check out the weaponry options at 7-eleven.
  • Rest well, prepare for lots of walking and partying the next few days.
14th Apr / Day 2
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  • Check out the street stalls near Victory Monument BTS and gear up with the Songkran necessities
  • Take the BTS to Saphan Taksin station, which connects to the Chao Phraya Express Boat at the Sathorn Pier.
  • Take the boat to Tha Tien, the nearest pier to Wat Pho (Temple of Reclining Buddha)
  • Make merit at Wat Pho and Wat Arun 
  • If you’re still not full from all the street food, try lunch at one of the al-fresco restaurants at The Maharaj (map), a riverside area with restaurants and shops.
  • Check out the local festivities and performances at Sanam Luang (map), en-route to Khao San
  • Join the waterwar at Khao San! This should last you till the end of the day.
15th Apr / Day 3
  • Take it easy in the morning, visit some malls / markets. However, carry your water gun with you at all times!
  • Join the street waterfight at Silom
  • Move on to Siam and join the crowd at Siam Square / Central World.
  • Enjoy international DJs and party at S2O Songkran Music Festival or Route 66 club at Rama 9 / RCA area (map) – The area is far from public transport, so do take a taxi.
16th Apr / Day 4
  • Although the Songkan holiday has officially ended, the festivities still continue in some areas. Places like Pattaya continue the Songkran celebrations for days until 19th Apr. Do consider making a day trip to Pattaya to experience a wilder and extreme version of Songkran!
  • Alternatively, you can be like us and just take the opportunity to just eat, relax, and get lost in Bangkok! A massage is good too!
17th Apr / Day 5
  • Home sweet home!
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A pleasant surprise to wrap up our trip – We came across this beautiful area while wondering around Phayathai Rd!

 

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