If there are only a few things in life that are certain, one of those things is, that theThais like to party.

The nation has adopted almost every festival you can think of, from Halloween over Valentine’s Day to Christmas…despite the fact, that the vast majority is Buddhist and thinks, that Santa Claus is the man behind the Christmas- celebrations.

But Thailand also has its own range of festivals, the most popular of which is Songkran, an annual mayhem of music, alcohol and lots and lots of water.

A 3day- celebration (April 13th, 14th and15th) of the Thai New Year.

Like many other festivals, Songkran is deeply rooted in the Thai- traditions and originally anything but wild.

It is a time to come together, give praise to Buddha and honor the older generations, fathers and forefathers.
It is a time of cleansing and renewal.

Some of the traditional things to do on Songkran are

  • Cleaning the house on the eve of the festival
  • Going to the local temple and clean the Buddha- statues
  • Visiting Mom and Dad and washing their hands with jasmine- scented water ( a way to pay respect to the elderly)
  • Sometimes the Buddha- statues from the local temples will be carried around the village, so everyone gets a chance to take part in the cleansing

Over the centuries, these rather quiet acts of worship have changed into the happy, loud and often chaotic scenery, we experience today!

Practically everybody is involved, as people place big barrels of water outside of the house or even go around with it on pick- up trucks and everybody gets water splashed at them, from water- pistols, smaller or bigger buckets, hoses, bottles…there are no limits to ones fantasy.

It is also good custom, to throw talcum- powder at each other.

(Here we should say, that tourists are 100% NOT spared from this! On the contrary: they are a very much favored target! So you basically have two choices: stay indoors for 3 or 4 days…or just join in and buy a water- pistol…it is payback time!!!)

There are different places to go to during Songkran, with different kinds of celebartion…all are wild and wet, though.

If you are in Bangkok, join the fun at Silom Road (which will be partly closed for traffic), or the former backpacker- area at Kao Sarn Road.

In the Chiang Mai- area or in the “elephant- city” of Surin, often large groups of the grey giants (in festive garments) take part in the wild water battles.

Now, as much fun as this sounds (and partly sure is!), we should mention, that this festival has its dark sides.

Not only are you likely to catch a cold- it is hot and humid and the water sometimes is cooled with big blocks of ice! The use of air- condition adds to that part of the “fun”…

It is mainly the excessive use of alcohol, that leads to accidents and incidents.

And wherever there are larger groups of people, pickpockets are not far.

If you want to be part of the Songkran- festivities, maybe you should pay attention to the following advice:

  • Don’t wear expensive or “good” clothing. A T-shirt , some shorts and the good ol’ flip-flops will do!
  • Get yourself some form of waterproof container for your money or your cellphone. Sometimes a plastic- bag will be fine, but you will also notice, that many people start selling plastic- containers to wear around your neck or waist.
  • Stay away from anything that looks like a fight, unless you are 100% sure, you can make a difference. The alcohol makes many people loose control.

Otherwise: have fun, enjoy, get wet and make wet…and “Sawasdee pee mai” (Happy New Year)!