Songkran, everything to know about Thai New Year in Bangkok and Chiang Mai Sharing is caring !

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Welcome to the best water system festival of the year and the main reason we came back to Thailand a irregular meter. This is Songkran, the best manner to call in the Thai New Year. It combines kin, temple visits, and the biggest water fight you ’ ve ever seen. And how golden were we to celebrate it in two different cities ! here ’ sulfur everything you need to know about celebrating Songkran in Bangkok and Chiang Mai .
Before we talk about the water fight, let ’ s talk about what Songkran is and why this water system fight is actually an important character of the ritual .
Drive by splash during Songkran in Chiang Mai, Thailand - WeDidItOurWay.comDrive-by scooter shooting, no fair! This article may contain affiliate/compensated links. For more information, please see our disavowal hera. We take all the efforts necessary to ensure the information included in this post is accurate, correct and current, sometimes, things barely change ! Travel information like opening hours, commercial enterprise operations and prices may change. If you find anything in this post that is incorrect or outdated, please let me know in the comments so I can update it for early readers. Cheers !
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What to expect during Songkran

Songkran is the moment that most Thais ( and tourists ) wait for every year. It ’ s the New class in the Hindu and Buddhist solar calendars. normally, they celebrate it between April 13th and 15th, though it may vary some years. In 2020, Songkran will be celebrated from Monday, April 13 to Wednesday, April 15.
Locals have these days off to celebrate and ring in the new year with friends and family. Most large businesses and offices are closed, though smaller shops, bars, and restaurants stay loose .
normally, big cities like Bangkok, have a mass exodus with residents traveling back to their home plate towns. But don ’ t concern, there are still tons of people in town ready to celebrate. Just know that traveling around on those dates may take longer than expected and tickets get bought up debauched. If you plan on leaving larger cities during the days around Songkran, make certain you buy your tickets equally early as you can .

Here are some other things you can expect during Songkran:

  • Getting wet: What else were you expecting? If you’re out during Songkran, you’re guaranteed to get wet. If you don’t want to get wet. stay off the main roads and away from major attractions, including temples, as these get cleansed with water throwing too.
  • Closed stores and businesses: As we mentioned, Songkran is a national holiday, so expect to see stores and businesses (including some museums and landmarks) close during these 3 days. Some major chains (think 7Eleven or McDonalds) do stay open during Songkran.
  • Inclusion & diversity: The Thai New Year brings everyone, from all ages and walks of life together. That’s the beauty of this day! Anyone can get involved in the celebrations, so don’t be surprised to see the elderly, middle-aged, and youth splashing water onto one another. It makes no difference if you’re a foreigner or a local, you’ll be splashed regardless!
  • Drunk people: This is mainly around Khao San Road, but like with any party, expect people to get drunk. And even if there is a water curfew that starts at 9 PM, alcohol consumption continues long into the early morning hours. Just like you see with any other New Year’s celebrations around the world! As always, be careful of pick-pockets and drunk drivers.
  • Booking in advance: If you plan on getting to a different city or staying in hotels in major cities, make sure you book in advance. Locals usually spend their time with their family, so tickets for the trains, buses or airlines may get fully booked weeks before the holiday. The same goes for hotels, as visitors flock to the city to party. 
  • Fun! Fun! Fun! Just like with any New Year’s celebrations, the city comes to life with contagious energy! Everyone is happy and ready to party!

Celebrating the traditions of Thai New Year

During this religious holiday, people pay respect to Buddha, to the monks, to their families and friends. That ’ second why the Songkran celebrations actually start at home .
traditionally, Thais perform the Rod Nam Dum Hua ritual on the first day of Songkran, the National Elderly Day. During this ritual, young people pour fragrant water into their elders ’ palms as a gesture of humility and to ask for their blessings .
Merit making at Wat Saket during Songkran, Thailand - WeDidItOurWay.comSongkran celebrations at Wat Saket
The second day of Songkran is National Family Day. Families wake up early and give alms to the monks. then, the rest of the day is spent sharing timbre family meter, either cleaning out their homes or equitable being together. Expect to see crowd at the temples, thus if you want to respectfully partake in these ceremonies, go ahead. But if you ’ re looking to avoid herd, the temples should be avoided .
Another important religious ritual during Songkran is ‘ Bathing the Buddha image ’. Devout Buddhists pour fragrant water over Buddha statues both at the temple and at home. More religious Thais betroth themselves in Buddhist ceremonies and merit-making activities throughout the holidays .
We visited some temples on this sidereal day to see what making deservingness was all about. Believers would agate line up and pour body of water on Buddha statues in temples. They would sit and pray, make donations and spend a peaceful consequence at the temple with their families. We saw people of all ages, from children to the aged, make their way to the temples to make deservingness .
Songkran celebrations in Lumpini Park, Bangkok, Thailand - WeDidItOurWay.comSongkran celebration at Lumpini Park
As you can already see, body of water plays a boastfully function during all the Songkran ceremonies. Just like in the water contend, the squelch of urine is a symbolic manner to wash off all the misfortune, to start a fresh and clean new class. A perfect way to start the year, if you ask us !

Songkran, the best water festival of the year

Ok, immediately for the playfulness part. The celebrated body of water fight. Basically, for these three days, everyone takes to the streets to participate in water fights. They normally start in the dawn and are “ supposed ” to end when the sun goes down. Though it seems like it never ends.

Water Refill station in Chiang Mai during Songkran - WeDidItOurWay.com Free water refills in Chiang Mai If you think you ’ re going to get out of Songkran without getting soaked, think again ! No one is dry for the next three days. even if you don ’ t have a water gun. even if you walk with your hands up, as a sign of submission. even if you wear a raincoat. No one is safe ! If you want to stay dry, stay dwelling. And this was dependable for both in Bangkok and Chiang Mai .

How to avoid getting wet during Songkran 

Ok, so this is going to be identical address, but if you want to avoid Songkran, don ’ t come to Bangkok, Chiang Mai or the Thai islands … or early major cities and towns in Thailand…
We came specifically to celebrate Songkran, and we wanted to live it in both Chiang Mai and Bangkok. If your travel plans make this ineluctable, or if you want to celebrate but alone for a light time ( like when we had to skip a day to travel between the two cities ), know that it ’ sulfur pretty easily to get away from the party. Most of the water throw is limited to the areas mentioned above .
Celebrations in Lumpini Park, Bangkok, Thailand - WeDidItOurWay.comSongkran celebrations in Lumpini Park
For case, we partied on Silom road, but arsenic soon as we left the sphere to walk to Lumpini Park, where some official celebrations were happening, no one was throwing water. The same goes for our walk from our nearby hotel. The locals started splashing us when we were a corner away from Silom Road .
If you in truth want to stay a dry as possible, take a Grab cab across the city. That ’ s the driest way to get around !

Celebrating Songkran in Bangkok

We celebrated the first day of Songkran in Bangkok, on Silom Road. A load of the street, near Lumpini Park, is blocked off for the epic water competitiveness .
Kids shooting water during Thai New Year in Bangkok - WeDidItOurWay.com Don’t shoot, don’t shoot! I might have been out of water, and definitely out-numbered. The festivities take space in a few main streets. Yes, you can stay dry if you are far from the legal action, but don ’ t bank on it. Kids will frequently sit on balconies and pour water on passerby. indeed, good luck, you ’ ll even need it !
People walk up and down the street, splashing each other with water guns and buckets. They will besides splash you from the platform of the MRT station that is above the street. The buckets, and sometimes hoses, are reserved chiefly for the Thai shop-owners .
That ’ sulfur because, in Bangkok, they charge you to fill up your water system bottles. And the water doesn ’ t come cheap. You ’ ll be paying between 5 and 10 THB ( $ 0.15 and $ 0.30USD ) to fill those puppies up. thus keep some variety on you .
Silom Road during Thai New Year in Bangkok - WeDidItOurWay.com Silom Road insanity The water here is chiefly clean water from the tap, but still, try not to drink it. But again, good fortune as many people will aim for your confront when they spray you. not quite playing bazaar, but it seems like fairness is not on anyone ’ second mind during Songkran ’ mho water fight .
After you ’ re done crop-dusting and getting sprayed, you can head to Lumpini Park where the chief festivities are taking place. The park is full of games, rides for kids, festival fare and shows. They besides hold an annual beauty contest during this time deoxyadenosine monophosphate well .
We found that Lumpini Park was the perfect stead to dry off in the hot Bangkok sunlight, enjoy the delightful local food, and watch the more traditional festivities of Songkran take home .
All in all, we had a great time celebrating Songkran in Bangkok. The vibes were well, the fights were honest but paying for urine was less fun. And best of all, we were staying at Cloud on Saladaeng, a rock ’ sulfur throw aside from the action. But more on that later…

Where to celebrate Songkran in Bangkok

There are a few places in Bangkok where you can celebrate Songkran in all its glory .

  • Silom Road: This is where we celebrated Songkran and we loved it. Located near Lumpini Park, this is the perfect place to experience Songkran in a more local way. Just be aware that you will be splashed from all around, including from the railway station above!
  • Khao San Road: This is probably (no, for sure) the most popular place to celebrate Songkran in Bangkok. Things get very loud and wild here on a regular day, so you can only imagine what Songkran is like. Don’t be surprised to see people get more and more drunk as the day goes on (especially when the sun goes down)
  • Siam Square: If you want to celebrate with your kids or your family, head to Siam Square for “White Songkran”. White Songkran is the PG-version of Songkran. It’s more family and child-friendly. There’s no alcohol or scantily-clad dressed people here. The party is definitely less rowdy and better for the kiddos.

Celebrating Songkran in Chiang Mai

Getting splashed during Thai New Year in Chiang Mai - WeDidItOurWay.com Chiang Mai insanity For Day 3 of Songkran, we were in Chiang Mai. And wow, were we in for a surprise. If we thought Bangkok was crazy, Chiang Mai was on a wholly fresh degree .
We celebrated chiefly in the Old City, but people everywhere were armed with buckets and hoses, quick to splash anyone and everyone. Forget any rules you may know about Songkran, they don ’ thymine apply here in Chiang Mai .
A ruthless splasher during Thai New Year in Chiang Mai - WeDidItOurWay.com When she just won’t share the cold water Kids were lining up at the river, pulling water out to splash everyone. Firefighters had their hoses set up splashing everyone and filling up their bottles. People were sitting on the binding of pickup trucks and splashing pedestrians as they drove by. No casual you were getting them back. It was total chaos and it was a freakin ’ blast !
Within 5 minutes of leaving our hotel, we were already soaking wet. From head to toe, drenched in ice-cold urine. We got ambushed by kids hiding behind a wall. then, the prowler attack by the previous couple on their balcony. last, the quietly restaurant owner who snuck up on us and poured a whole bucket of ice body of water on our backs .
We walked through the city, splashing and getting splashed, laughing until our ab hurt. This is what being a kyd again feels like !

Where to celebrate Songkran in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai sure knows who to party during Songkran. here are the main areas you can celebrate :

  • Old City: This is probably the best place to celebrate Songkran. This is where you’ll see the biggest water fights and tons of entertainment too. Even a few blocks away, people will be throwing water. The biggest celebrations will happen at Thapae Gate and all around the moat.
  • Nimmanhaemin Road: Also called Nimman Road, this is one of the trendiest areas in Chiang Mai. Expect to see tons of people, water battles, and entertainment (think performers and DJs) mainly at the entrance of the Maya mall.
  • Join a tuk-tuk tour: We didn’t know about this option until the day we saw it with our own eyes… and got splashed by one of them! We saw tuk-tuks with buckets of water driving around and splashing people. We even saw people on the backs of pickup trucks with barrels of water, water guns, hoses, and buckets. You’ll get to cover more ground and see more of the city.

A winning strategy for the Songkran water fight

just like in any war, you need a beneficial scheme. hera are the Songkran techniques that worked best for us :

  • In Chiang Mai, grab a bucket, find a watering hole and splash away
  • In Bangkok, get a few people together, screaming all together and spraying in one direction. An epic water war will inevitably follow!
  • It might sound mean but aim for the kids. Their response is usually hilarious. They are ruthless and will fight back and their parents will counter-attack too.
  • If you get a gun, get one that has a large reservoir and a lot of power. It will make things more fun. But more on this later!
  • Work out your trigger finger. It will be sore by the end of the day.
  • Make as many friends as you can, you will need them during an ambush (and yes, you will get ambushed. No one is safe!)
  • Don’t shoot people with bigger guns than you… you will lose
  • Be a water fight ninja. Shoot, then look away. They’ll never know who hit them!
  • The colder the water, the better!

Shooting water on kids during Thai New Year in Bangkok - WeDidItOurWay.com Kids make for the best targets!

Tips to make the best of Songkran

There ’ south more to this festival than the water fight. Try to experience angstrom much of it as possible. Give alms and make deservingness, or if you prefer, fair observe people who are doing it .

  • Protect your gear. Use waterproof bags to protect your valuables. If you can, avoid bringing tons of things with you. Some money, your phone or GoPro, and you should be good
  • Watch your belongings. Pickpockets are more present as people are less observant when getting splashed.
  • Wear dry-fit or quick-drying workout clothes. You will be soaked for a very long time, if not. Also, this is not a day to dress up!
  • Use public transportation. Especially if you’re heading to one of Songkran ‘hotspots’. Traffic gets rough and accidents are more prone to happen on this holiday.
  • Wish the locals a happy new year in Thai. They will appreciate the effort you’re making. Just say: “Sawasdee Pee Mai!”
  • You can’t splash just anyone. Monks, babies and the elderly are off limits… although, if some elderly people splash you, don’t feel bad to counter-attack!
  • Don’t drink and drive. Obviously!
  • Only use clean water, and without ice. Though it does seem that the kids in Chiang Mai using the river water didn’t get this memo.
  • Safety first. Don’t throw water at motorcyclists. But again, this was not respected in Chiang Mai!
  • Smile and have fun. Don’t get upset, just splash back.

What to pack for Songkran

The least you bring, the better. Make indisputable that you don ’ thyroxine heed if whatever you bring gets ruined or wet. And, obviously, make certain your electronics are safely packed because people will throw body of water careless of what you have on you !
here are some musts we brought :

  • Waterproof camera gear: We had our GoPro, which was perfect to document this day! If you have an underwater dome for your camera, then bring it along, if that’s how you’ll be shooting. But like we mentioned, the less you bring, the better!
  • Waterproof phone case: If you want to take pics and videos, if you are texting friends, or using your phone to get around the city, you need a waterproof phone case! Lucky for us, we had our GoPro and our hotel was right near Silom Road, so we didn’t need this!
  • Dry bag: If you’re going to bring a camera or other valuables with you, make sure you have a dry bag. We use ours when we go scuba diving too, so it’s one of the things we always have with us. It will be perfect to keep your wallet and other goods dry. 
  • Dark and fast-drying clothes: Sure, you could pretend this is a wet t-shirt contest, but light colors are not your friend when buckets of water are being dunked all over you! We mentioned it before, but we highly recommend you wear clothing that dries fast. We opted for our hiking outfits, the dry-fit variety! 
  • Swimwear: Instead of wearing your regular undies, go for swim trunks or your bikini under your dry-fit clothes. Swimwear dries much faster, won’t get ruined, and will keep you comfy all day!

How to have a sustainable Songkran 

By now, you know that sustainability is one of our major concerns when we travel. And seeing the come of water being thrown during this 3-day festival indisputable makes it hard to support it, although we do respect these traditions. Heck, we came second to Thailand just to live this feel ! But the good news is that there are sustainable ways of celebrating Songkran !

  • Don’t buy a water gun: We’re going to be honest, we bought a water gun… and then regretted it! They’re cheap, they’re plastic, they’re pretty much single-use, and then they end up in landfills. We only bought one water gun, that we shared, and that we brought with us to Chiang Mai, so we did try to use it as much as possible. We even gave it to some local kids after Songkran, but truth is, we could have just not bought one. In many places, people would have huge buckets of water out, so you can grab a reusable container and throw water there. 
  • Always have a reusable water bottle: Regardless of Songkran, we highly recommend you bring a reusable water bottle to Thailand (or South-East Asia, for that matter). The weather in April is really hot, so you will be getting thirsty. We love our Lifestraw Go for this. It makes drinking tap water (or any freshwater) possible, without getting sick! No need to buy those terrible plastic water bottles!
  • Limit the amount of water you throw: This takes some self-control, but instead of throwing water on others, just walk down the lanes and enjoy being splashed and sprayed. You don’t have to add to the amount of water being thrown. If you’re celebrating on one of the Thai islands, replace freshwater throwing with seawater! Or, like they did in Chiang Mai, head for the river!
  • Watch out for your electronics: Electronics are major contributors to landfills and a huge environmental burden to make. Instead of having your phones or camera gear ruined by water, pack them properly. Go for a waterproof case, or bring waterproof electronics. This way, you won’t be throwing out electronics unnecessarily or wasting money on a replacement phone or camera. 

The dark side of Songkran

These types of celebrations do have a negative impingement on the environment and on the people. As always, one of our chief concerns is the unsustainable practices that come with Songkran .

  • Poor use of water: In a country that already has poor water supply, and especially, clean water supply, it seems a bit silly to waste such large amounts of water. 
    Water scarcity is a global problem that will only grow with time. Scientists estimate that Thailand will feel the impacts of this scarcity in 2025. Already, in 2016, the Thai government deemed the shortage of clean water a national crisis. So it just seems so counterintuitive to have a holiday where tons of water are literally thrown out the window. Experts in resource conservation have said that aquatic festivals, like Songkran or Vardavar in Armenia, are a major drain on freshwater resources.
  • Road accidents: Every year, the Thai government puts in efforts to warn locals and visitors about safe driving and avoiding drunk driving. Mixing alcohol with wet roads and water splashing is a recipe for disaster. If you can avoid driving or being on the road, please do. Use the public transport system instead or take a Grab car. 
  • Water sickness: We know that tap water is not safe to drink in Thailand. And although people are supposed to only throw clean water, that’s not always the case. In Chiang Mai, we saw tons of people getting water out of the river to throw it on people. Uck! It’s hard to do, but if you can, try to avoid getting water in your mouth (or spit it out when you do!)

Where to stay in Bangkok during Songkran

Where to stay in Bangkok during Songkran - WeDidItOurWay.com

Welcome to Cloud on Saladaeng
We were so happy to stay at Cloud on Saladaeng. Close enough to the action on Silom frog and Lumpini Park, but nestled away on a small street, so the party was never a bother. And the helpful and friendly staff constantly made sure we knew what was going on so we didn ’ t miss a rhythm .
This beautifully designed hostel opened three months before we stayed there. Inspired by the taiwanese family who used to live there, they have kept some of the charms of the old building, like the gate at the capture and the dragon column .
Room in Cloud on Saladaeng in Bangkok during Songkran - WeDidItOurWay.comOur cozy room at Cloud cook to host travelers with a stove of budgets, they have dorm rooms, private rooms with shared bathrooms and deluxe rooms with an ensuite. The rooms may not be big, but they are perfectly sized for the issue of people that they hold. And preceptor ’ metric ton get us started on the go to bed ! After spending countless nights on mattresses arsenic unvoiced as rocks, this bed was literally like sleeping on a cloud !
We loved this hostel then a lot. From the loose snacks available all the time, along with free drink water and coffee bean, the kitchen and electric refrigerator that were open to our practice, the showers that were equipped with shampoo and body wash, no detail was left unnoticed. particularly since most of these little things were good for the environment .
We could not recommend Cloud on Saladaeng any more ! During Songkran or not, it ’ sulfur comfortable, cozy, friendly and overall amazing ! Like being on cloud 9 for a few days in the hustle and bustle of the Kingdom ’ randomness capital .
We had an amazing time during Songkran. This is a once in a life experience we will cherish everlastingly. It ’ s not much that you get to live these local anesthetic experiences and partake in a country-wide celebration.

Have you celebrated Songkran ? Is it on your list now ?
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