What is the Songkran Festival?
Update Coronavirus 2020: Songkran festivities have been cancelled this year
Songkran in Phuket happens between April 12 to 15, 2020. (The dates vary depending on the regions of Thailand, so please keep checking this page as we will confirm as event approaches). So, what is this Songkran Festival everyone is talking about lately?
If you choose to come to Phuket or Thailand in April, you’d better know what all this is about. Songkran is the Thai New Year, and it occurs when the sun moves position from Pisces to Aries. According to the Thai calendar, we are already in the year 2563. The entire country gets a lot of days off, and most Thai people will be going back home so celebrate Songkran with their families. Fortunately for you, it is business as usual in Phuket, and you will be able to enjoy all the tours and day trips as usual. Just expect a lot of traffic jams on the road as everyone is out on pick-up trucks, throwing water at each other.
What Happens During Songkran?
Starting early morning on April 13th, people celebrate Songkran in many different ways. It is an exceptional day, and the water ceremony will take many forms. Initially, you are only supposed to sprinkle your family with a tiny cup of water. It’s good luck. You also sprinkle a statue of Buddha very respectfully and do a little pray.
Later in the morning, the game stars to changes. Because this is the hottest time of the year, splashing each other with water is a lot of fun. Add a little beer to that and Songkran turns into a country-wide water war.
People living in Thailand will be divided into three groups: ‘Wild Wet Fun‘ fans, ‘Sulking Hermits‘ who will lock themselves indoors for three days having wisely stocked food, and ‘Smart Dudes‘, well organised, who will make use of the very long weekend to fly somewhere abroad and dry.
Where is the Best Place?
If you are of the first kind, you can join Songkran wet street parties from early morning. It starts rather gently in Phuket Town around 10 am, turning to water dogfights in the afternoon in Patong, Kata and Karon, and ends in a hectic, full-scale wet war zone in Bangla Road until late at night.
Everybody will join the Songkran festivities, kids, teens mostly, but also adults and tourists, divided into two camps: the ‘Strategically Ambushed‘ by the roadside with plenty of water ammunition, and the ‘Mobile Units‘ in the back of pick up trucks. Shops and supermarket make fortunes selling all kinds of colourful and humongous water guns. But the best weapon remains the good old plastic bowl and a big tank of icy cold water!
Cops doing traffic and security on the road are always the favourite targets for everyone, but they are used to this and keep a smile all day or even play along.
Survival Tips for Songkran Day
- Don’t drive a bike if you can avoid it, it’s slippery, and the tendency to close eyes when water is thrown at you might lead to a crash with the car in front of you. And a lot of drunk people will be out there partying, including you :D.
- Get a waterproof camera; the chance to ruin yours is pretty high!
- Beware of major traffic jams in towns, mostly in Patong Beach. It might take you several hours to cross it. If you are unfortunate enough to have to go to Phuket airport, go as early as possible, preferably in the morning.
- Don’t carry anything that is not water-resistant.
- Don’t wear expensive clothing; I’m not sure how easy it would be to wash the colour powder thrown at you by some teens.
- Beware of the Sun! If you happen to be on the back of a pickup truck, get a cap and water-resistant sunscreen, or you will pay a painful price the days after!
- Have fun! Don’t take it too seriously, it’s good fun (if you choose to go out there).
Photos of Songkran Festival