Every April you will see Thailand become a sea of floral shirts, plastic water guns, buckets and bowls, basically anything that suffices to throw water at someone! Songkran, or the Thai New Year, runs from the 13th to 16th of April and is 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? Grab yourself a floral shirt and here’s what you need to know.
Dress for 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 to Avoid!)
This picture isn’t an exaggeration, head across to Silom and you will get first hand experience, suggested for mid to older kids as it gets pretty crazy!
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 or the various events that are specifically organised for kids.
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.
- Wear comfortable, quick drying clothing such as rash guard tops, boardshorts and flip flops. Bring a change of clothes for the kids if you plan to be out all day. Also, don’t forget waterproof sunscreen!
- Seal your phone, cash and credit cards in a waterproof bag (readily available for sale at convenience stores).
- Songkran is all about fun, but if your family has had enough, it’s ok to tell revelers to not splash you. The same goes for the application of din sor pong, an aromatic white cooling powder, that’s typically dabbed on the face.
- Learn the Thai customary greeting for happy new year “Sawasdee Pee Mai”
Whatever you do or wherever you celebrate, have a happy, fun and safe Songkran!