Everything You Need to Know to Survive Songkran

Before our visit to Southeast Asia last spring, I didn’tย really know what Songkran was. I probably would still not have any idea if we didn’t make a trip to visit my husband’s family in Laos. It just so happened that we would be there during the Thai (and also Laos) New Year. I had no idea what to expect, except for the fact that Google search told me there was a huge water fight! ย I’m so glad to have been able to join in this celebration! We were too busy getting soaked so we didn’t get as many great pictures as we wanted, I guess we will just have to go back again to celebrate.

Everything you need to know to survive Songkran festival in Thailand or Laos fittwotravel.com

What is Songkran?

Songkran is the Buddhist New Year celebrated across Southeast Asia and is celebrated for three consecutive days. Songkran started out as a Buddhist ritual to start the new year with purification. Monks attend temples, sprinkling Buddha statues in sacred water. This is believed to wash away the bad from the previous year and welcome the good for the new year. Over the years the holiday has turned into a ginormous water fight.  The throwing of water is said to get rid of the bad. Now, Songkran is most widely known for the huge water fights. These are buckets and buckets of water being thrown in the street. We also saw hoses being used! Luckily the celebrations line up well with the hottest time of the year in Southeast Asia, as the cold water is actually welcoming.

survive songkran fittwotravel.com

When is Songkran?

The holiday lasts from April 13- April 15, although in our experience it’s basically a week long celebration. The date was originally set by astrological calculations, but now it is fixed on the 13th.  The first day that is celebrated is the last day of the current year. The middle day of celebrations is actually between two years, and the final day is the first day of the new year.  A day before the celebration, the house is cleaned to get rid of all the bad from the previous year.

songkran powder fittwotravel.com-

Tips for surviving Songkran

  • Nobody is safe

Just because you are a visitor, doesn’t mean they will let you slide by without getting wet. In fact, they probably want to soak you more. I know we were big targets as we were walking around the streets. If you step outside, you will get wet! The kids especially find it hilarious when they can hit you with their super soaker. There are some set up on the sides of the street with their hoses, while others drive around in their pickup trucks with huge buckets ready to attack.

  • Where to celebrate?

Chiang Mai seems to be the most popular tourist destination, as well as Bangkok (particularly Khao San Road), Pattaya, Phuket, and even other countries in Southeast Asia such as Laos, have big parties. Although we had a great time celebrating in Laos with Tip’s family, I can’t imagine the craziness that ensues in Thailand, as Thailand is supposedly even more intense than the Laos celebrations.

songkran party outside fittwotravel.com
  • Book your accommodations early!

This is a serious party and people plan for this trip for a long time. Make sure you book your accommodation ahead of time as places will surely sell out quickly. Also, if you are traveling to Thailand right before the festival, know that transportation will be busier as well.

  • Take precautions with your electronics

There is no way to avoid the water! Make sure that your phone is waterproofed! A waterproof bag and a waterproof camera are a good idea. Everywhere sells waterproof pouches for your phone, so don’t worry about needing one before you leave. We used our GoPro most of the time since its already waterproof, and it worked out well!

Waterproof pouch songkran
  • We mean it when we say the celebration is at least 3 days long

There will be lots of alcohol consumed during these days so learn how to pace yourself. We spent all 3 days, and maybe even more, doing a lot of dancing, drinking, and getting soaked. It was awesome!

songkran dance fittwotravel.com
  • Prepare yourself

You don’t want to be walking around town without anything to fight with. We ended up buying some small squirt guns in order to fight back. It wasn’t much compared to the buckets or the hose they had, but at least it was something!

songkran squirtgun fittwotravel.com
  • Be open-minded and welcoming to the idea of walking around soaking wet

It can be shocking at first, but it is actually really fun to celebrate in this huge festival, so don’t be a baby and embrace the wet clothes ๐Ÿ™‚

[irp posts=”410″ name=”Lost in SE Asia: One backpack, One month”]

If you haven’t been in Southeast Asia to celebrate Songkran we HIGHLY recommend going! It is such a fun festival to experience! We didn’t get as many great pictures as we wanted, so I guess we have to go back again soon! 

What is the best festival you have participated in? 

songkran powder fittwotravel.com
Tip getting “powdered”
songkran party outside fittwotravel.com-
songkran dancing fittwotravel.com

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  1. Haha you learn something everyday. This is an awesome festival. Though I’m not sure you can say that we need to “survive” it since it’s hot and the cold water is welcoming.

  2. That looks like SO MUCH FUN! The photo of you with the GoPro and Super Soaker is awesome!

  3. What a fun post! It makes me feel all happy now! I love the way they celebrate their New Year, it must indeed be a very joyful and happy experience! What a way to start the New Year!

  4. My brother is married to a lady from Thailand and he went to Songkran last year in northern Thailand where she is from. He said it was brilliant and could not wait to go back

  5. I have to ask โ€“ was the water cold or just cool. ๐Ÿ™‚

    The atmosphere sounds super fun and a lot like Carnivales with water getting sprayed on everyone and of course the three days of drinking and partying.

  6. This sounds like a great time and super fun. Something for kids and adults to participate and have fun doing. Never heard of Songkran, but will heading to S.E Asia later this year and may be there for the New Year. Thanks for heads up and looking forward to catching this festival.

  7. Omg. Why are there so many festivals around the world that are all about invading your bubble? Maybe it’s because I’m a parent who’s frequently combating splashing and dumping water on people, but I feel like I’d struggle here. I need to chill out, I think.

  8. Sounds incredibly full on to me. Having said that, Ive never heard of it, nor been to it. but, I must admit, these days I prefer something a little quieter and less in your face.

  9. I was going to say we should do this in England for New Year’s!! On second thoughts, probably not a good idea given the English winter!! Looks awesome, this is on the bucket list!!

  10. I showed this to my kids and they spent the whole day talking about going to Thailand for a water gun fight. Looks like next year is looking up ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. I laughed so hard at the ‘nobody is safe’. It is so true!!
    I was in Chiang Mai and Pai last year for Songkran. The first two days where a lot of fun! One big waterfight with the city, who doesnt like that right? ๐Ÿ˜‰
    But when I needed to take a bus to Pai, people still threw water at me eventhough I wore a poncho and even asked people not to throw water since I was going to sit in a bus for a while…. I got so mad….but well.

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