How to Gear Up for Songkran 2014 (aka the Awesomest Water Fight Festival in the World!)
My Songkran experience in Bangkok last year was one of the most fun travels I’ve had in a long time. For someone with anxiety, that’s quite a statement. It only goes to show how incredibly enjoyable Thailand’s New Year’s festival is.
Here in the Philippines, we welcome the New Year with fireworks and firecrackers. In Thailand, however, they celebrate it with water—loads and loads of it. Yes, water. No, not for drinking but for getting people wet on the streets. Are you getting the picture yet? If that doesn’t spell out fun, I don’t know what does.
Sure, we’ve all heard of the massive political protests that happened in Bangkok in the last few months. But thankfully, the Bangkok shutdown is now over and the city is back on its sturdy feet. Besides, no political instability is going to ruin Thailand’s New Year’s celebration. Much like Filipinos, the Thais are known for their smiling faces, jovial disposition and resilient spirit.
In other words, I don’t expect this year’s festivities to be any less adventuresome. That said, if you are heading to Bangkok for Songkran 2014 soon, be guided accordingly and expect the following…
How to Gear Up for Songkran 2014
1. You. Will. Get. WET. Dress appropriately!
Dress code: beachwear. Dress as if you’re going to the beach or to a pool party. Trust me on this: you will get wet as soon as you step out of the hotel. Locals and tourists alike will chase you down the street and throw freezing cold water at you. You will forget what dry feels like until you get back to your hotel. Be warned.
Since getting soaked is inevitable, your valuables will be too if you’re unprepared. You don’t want your money to get wet and your smartphone to be ruined while on holiday. So carry a small waterproof bag to secure your valuables. There will be such affordably priced pouches for sale all over Bangkok. Buy one before the festival starts.
2. All will be armed. You should be, too… with a WATER GUN!
During Songkran, Bangkok is a battlefield. A wet one. There will be a myriad of water-wielding weaponry all over the place—from pails and buckets of water being thrown around to the ultra-cool water guns being shot around. Everyone is carrying a weapon to fight the great water fight, so do not be caught dead without one.
Water guns are for sale all over the city with prices that range approximately from 100 to 1000 baht, depending on the size and power of the gun. I bought a mid-range one with decent shooting power for 700 baht. Nice, right? That is, until I found the exact same one at another stall selling for only 500. Moral of the story: don’t buy a gun at the first store that you see. Walk around, check out the prices and haggle like you’re in Divisoria. Most vendors automatically jack up the price once they figure out you’re a tourist. (Sad, but true!)
3. Prepare to unleash the DIRTY-STICKY-SEXY side of you!
As if getting wet isn’t wild enough, expect to get dirty and sticky with white paste, as well. As you tread carefully along the battlefield, locals will jump out at you and smear your face and body with talc mixed with water. Don’t duck and try to dodge it. Accept it with open arms and a smile. It’s a friendly welcome gesture from the locals, like a firm handshake or a warm peck on the cheek.
Take a selfie whilst you’re wet and covered in paste. It might be your only chance to look dirty-sexy in a photo. Plus, it’ll be a great memento of your Songkran experience.
4. There will be MAD TRAFFIC!
When In Manila, we know traffic like the back of our hands. When in Bangkok, especially during Songkran, the traffic is just as bad – if not worse. Some of the major roads are closed off for the festivities. Most of the revelers, particularly the tourists, will be gathered along Khao San Road and Silom Road, as well as in some of the adjoining side streets.
Taxi and tuk-tuk (the Thai version of the Filipino tricycle) drivers will certainly be hiking up the fares. When you ask them why its ‘s expensive, expect them to give this excuse: “It’s holiday. Traffic everywhere.” Still haggle with them. If that doesn’t work, go find another taxi or tuk-tuk until you chance upon an honest driver who won’t take advantage of tourists.
It is best, however, to know where you want to go before you leave your hotel. Study the city map, take the BTS or MTR instead or, better yet, just walk if your desired destination is not too far away. Besides, you don’t want to miss out on the street water-fighting fun.
5. Of course, there will be tons of PARTYING, too!
The festivities will pay no mind to the sun or the moon—they will go on throughout the duration of the festival. Apart from the water-splashing battles, there will be partying left and right: in the hotels, residences, clubs and in the streets. Last year, there were street performances, pocket parties at almost every corner (even a foam party right on Silom Road!) drinking, singing and dancing happening out in the open.
No surprise here since Songkran is Thailand’s biggest festival and the most anticipated national holiday. As in any other country, the best way to commemorate the coming of the New Year is to simply have fun. There’s no better approach to being thankful and hopeful than to be happy.
So When In Manila and already missing the revelries of New Year’s Eve (Already?! It’s only April!), head on to Thailand for Songkran. Go get wet and wild, but don’t forget to be wary and wise, either.
Have you experienced Songkran? Share your experience with us. Comment below.
All over Thailand
April 13-15, 2014