Celebrating Songkran in Bangkok

10 April 2017, Richard Holmes

Celebrated over three water-drenched days, Songkran is official Thai New Year and its sense of community and fun typifies the national spirit. Looking to make the most of the action with kids? Here’s what you need to know.

Dress for a Drenching

It goes without saying that if you plan to head to a Songkran party, you’re likely in for a soaking. Something to bear in mind when you decide how to dress your little ones. Rain coats, umbrellas, wellies and towels are all a good option if you plan to keep them (relatively) dry, or just head out in rash guards/swim shirts and shorts with a change of clothes. But at the very least, make sure wallets, phones and any other valuables are kept well out of the action – preferably in a plastic bag. For the most part, people will be respectful if you ask them to avoid wetting you, but it’s best to expect you’ll get a little damp (or have scented powder dabbed on your face).

Places to Visit (and Avoid)

The revelry in certain Bangkok neighbourhoods can get a bit raucous, especially in tourist hotspots such as the lower sois along Sukhumvit and Silom Road, where the road is completely shut to traffic as thousands of people join in with the celebrations. The notoriously chaotic Khao San Road will only have traditional water splashing and merit-making this year, and may be worth a visit.

For a more family-friendly experience, head to Lumpini Park or K Village, which hosts a fun “Songkran Splash” celebration geared towards children on 13 to 14 April 2017, from 11am to 5pm, or BAMBI’s Splash Party on 22 April, from 9.30am to 12pm, at the British Club.

Discover the Spiritual Side of Songkran

Away from all the water fights and random street-based soakings, Songkran is also celebrated with a variety of cultural events. And it’s a great chance to give the kids a sense of the festival’s deeper meaning. Visit a local temple to offer alms to monks and help build and decorate sand stupas (a traditional way of merit making), or head to the BMA’s traditional celebration at Khon Muang Plaza in front of City Hall from 12 to 15 April. Also, on 12 April, the sacred Phra Buddha Sihing is brought out from the National Museum and sprinkled with perfumed water as it’s paraded through the streets.

Tips for Getting Around

If you’re planning to head to a busy Songkran hotspot, the BTS, MRT and express boats are generally the best ways to get around. In fact, the view from the BTS station in Silom is a great place to stay dry and watch the party unfold down below. If you do plan on grabbing a taxi at any point, bear in mind you may have a longer wait as many taxi drivers travel back to their family hometown during the holidays.

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