However, this frolicky water-logged ceremony has evolved into a mad revelry where people turn this rite into rabid water fights! It used to be just cups poured down your back. Now, kids buy water guns. Adults save up for water sprays. Others turn their water hoses into ammunitions for any one. In the Philippines, the feast day of San Juan has turned a single day into this wet ceremony. I am not such a fan of it, but I am not against it either – as long as I don’t become a recipient of this revelry. It is my prerogative not to get soaked, thank you very much! But everyone else is free to do what they want as long as they leave me alone. Since that isn’t possible every time, I avoid going to San Juan on those days!
Little did I realize I will be where this mad festival is happening at an even more frenetic, pulse-pounding scene than San Juan’s! In Chiang Mai, the Songkran is celebrated with a lot of gusto. It will run for days without letting up. Bangkok will be at its quietest since most Bangkokians return to their provinces to celebrate Songkran with their family. Local transport will be minimal, and traffic will be at its mildest. This signals the Thai-Buddhist New Year. However, the area of Khao San Road (KSR)– the city’s backpacker ghetto – becomes the epicenter of this water-splashing ceremony. This year, Songkran will officially run from April 12 to 15.
It was a big blunder on my part to have missed this, but it is staring right in front of me. I just don’t want my stuff wet. If I had a week in Bangkok, fine! I may even join and go soak someone. But I’ll be flying within 48 hours and I don’t want to be drying my stuff while in Bangkok – instead of roaming and seeing places!
Read on as I weep:
On the 15th it will be a water war zone on Khao San Road and adjacent Soi Rambutri. Walking down these roads, you'd get totally soaked. Since you know where you're staying, get a taxi from the airport straight there and keep the doors locked. Same if you want to go shopping (MBK, Siam Discovery/Paragon) metered taxi and lock the doors. Can't comment accurately if your daytrip will be going (Nakhon Pathom - floating markets?) but anywhere with lots of tourists and a water source could be a soaker. The activity will probably extend to the 16th as well. Wrap your passport/phone/camera in plastic and get ready to duck. Sawatdee Pii Mai!
HA HA! I wish I was going to be there for that, I'm going in May. it seems like such a fun thing - all the photos and videos ive seen all the people look so happy and exited. would probably be a nice way to adjust to the heat too, someone dousing you with water every 5 minutes.
We arrived one Songkran but our taxi couldnt get near Soi Rambuttri so we had no choice but to get out and walk. The young Thais were respectful if we held up our hands and shook our heads but its the Europeans who have no qualms about drenching all and sundry, packs and all.
I think you're already toast, you just don't know it.
It is worse on Khao San than in any other part of the city.
They only had to look at us to know we werent young and after a drenching.
You will not be able to get a taxi to the hotel door for the crowds. I thought Pattaya was bad, but it's nothing on KSR. Assuming you arrive in the day time, either stay in the airport till late at night, or get crushed, wet and covered in white powder.If you want your pack to stay dry, put it in a rubbish bin liner. You will not stay dry. Re: "The young Thais were respectful if we held up our hands and shook our heads" LOL. The Thais are into it just as much as farangs, if not more.You will get wet anywhere during the day. Young Thai kids lie in ambush everywhere.
Hmmmmm. Have a dry set of dud's and t-shirt handy your going to sadly get soaked, just have fun and stop been such a grinch, as other posters have said just keep passport camera and MP3 player in a good zip locked plastic bag and enjoy the festivities,it's only once a year...
Buddhists within the region celebrate the same Water Festival. In Myanmar, it is the Thingyan Festival from April 13 to 16, 2009. April 17 is the Burmese New Year. In Cambodia, it is called the Chaul Chnam where transport is at a stand still for 1 to 2 weeks. I know this. I got stuck in Siem Reap last 2007 – so instead of taking the bus back to Phnom Penh then back to Saigon for my connecting flight to Hanoi, I had to take the plane from the Siem Reap International Airport instead. In Laos, it is called the Pimal. Several other neighboring places celebrate this “water festival” like the Tamils of India. Most of these events are celebrated in the middle of the scorching summer!
Here are photos during my actual Songkran experience: