Songkran Festival is Thai New Year’s Festival, from 13-15 April yearly. For the tourists, it’s better known as the Water Festival. Traditionally, water is used to wash away the bad fortune, so as to welcome the good luck of tomorrow and the New Year. To the youngters, they uses water as a way to play and have fun. The whole of Bangkok is turned into a happy wonderland!
Where To Celebrate Songkran Festival:
Celebrate Songkran at Khao San Road, Central World and Patpong
1. Songkran At Central World
I was there on 13th April 2016 when I was at Central World to witness first hand how the events unfold.
We saw huge crowd congregating speedily around the area.
Then we were a bit scare of how they actually celebrate the day. To play it safe, we took refuge at the BTS sky walk, high on top of the street.
The pace at the narrow walkway was soon in snail-crawling speed. It was about 2 pm then.
Many comes with ‘guns’ in their hand.
And guns is available all over the streets with prices ranging from THB$100 for a small one to THB$600 for the big one.
Why would players want to arm themselves with a big gun? Simple, it can load more water, in a water-gun fight, the loser is always the one whose gun runs out of water first. By the time you go refill, your enemy would have run away!
As we moved nearer to Central World, these fun making youngsters don’t just come for the fun, they dressed up themselves as well.
They formed groups to increase their firepower to ‘fight’ against each other.
And when rival gangs meet, the shooting begins and the war is on!
Many who has no specific target simply lined up along the road and shoot aimlessly at passing by vehicles. During Songkran Festival, it’s ‘dangerous’ to be in a Tuk-Tuk ( Taxi), as the driver would corporate with the shooters to slow it down when approaching and allow them to shoot at you, especially when they know that you are tourists. It’s their way to let tourists enjoy their festival. We hate it, but somehow we enjoy it though!
The thing about the water festival is if you do not want to play, do not hold a gun. If the players see you holding one, they will start targeting you. But that doesn’t mean you are totally safe without a gun……
You might think that what’s so terrible about the water-gun shooting, at most you get wet right? No! Many players has gone smart, they ‘loaded’ their guns with icy-cold water, the chill really went down your spinal cord when you are shot at the back without any warning! Beware if you walk pass someone with a water bucket, they usually will pour it down your back!
That’s the reason why ice-cold water is available at a price.
The celebrations is very much regulated at Central World, with security guards keeping a watchful eye. It was then that we find the fun exhausted and proceeded to Khao San Road.
2. Songkran At Khao San Road
The place has one of the most beautiful monument in Bangkok.
I was very much fascinated by the beautiful sight! But my attention was soon drawn to the non-stop arrival of tuk-tuk coming to Khao San Road.
All of them arrives with guns in hand, and unlike those at Central World, they hold even bigger guns!
The continuous pour of people into the street reminds me of 2nd World War, when troops was constantly sent to the warfront!
I then realised that the event at Central World was just a prelude to a bigger war at Khao San Road.
Guns, guns, many ditched away their smaller gun to get even bigger and more powerful one.
Ice-cold-chilling water is not enough for the game, here they buy packets of chalk or powder, then mixed it with water and fill it into their gun, when it’s shoot at you, it leaves mark of chalk! Sense of victory that target is successfully hit!
They also uses the chalk to either mark on their own face or rub it on others. I got a few strokes out of nowhere.
If you are scared googles are available to protect your eyes from the chalk.
In the end I find it too dangerous to be on the street, we sought ‘refuge’ in McDonald’s and watch the ongoing war outside.
The fun is endless, I was told that at night the water gun fight erupted into full scale war, DJ will be there with loud music to add in the fun. But I was rushing, and do not have much time for it. My next destination: Patpong.
In Songkran Festival, no one is safe. We were constantly pursue by few tuk-tuk loaded with big guns……
It was especially ‘ dangerous’ when the Tuk-Tuk stops due to traffic light, we simply became ‘meat on the chopping board’. By the time we alighted, we were already all wet from head to toe!
3. Songkran At Patpong
It’s a different way of celebrating over here, the main players are either the owner of the shop or their staff. They lined up at shop front and instead of using just guns to shoot at any one passing by, they use water hoses or even bucket!
Days before Songkran Festival, many Thais who came to the capital to work had gone back to their hometown for reunion with their family. Bangkok is left very much to the tourists.
The Thais who remains in the capital loves to have fun with the tourists, they target their water containers, water hose, water guns at the tourists especially. And the tourists enjoy the fun too.
Dos and Don’ts During Songkran Festival
1.Waterproof your valuables
The first thing to do is get a waterproof pouch to zip your smartphone and wallet.
It’s available from THB$20-50, and comes in varies sizes.
2. Refill the gun regularly
When you buy the gun from the street, the seller will help you to fill it up with water. Thereafter you will need to refill it up from the washroom or buy it from the street.
Many sellers provide services for free refilling of water. But if you want more ‘lethal’ weapon- those icy-cold water- you will need to pay for it.
Songkran Festival is a time to play and enjoy, but there are certain rules to follow. To name a few:
- Do not get angry if water is pour on you, they mean no offence.
- Do not pour water at the monk.
- If you do not want to get wet, try to get a taxi instead of tuk-tuk.
- Waterproof your smartphone and camera.
- For the ladies, do not wear white colour shirt, it exposed your body easily when get wet.
- Do not load your water gun with dirty water, always use clean tap water.
- It’s an offence to ‘gun fight’ in or around BTS station, know where the fun ends.
The water festival continues for another 2 days. On the 3rd day, the war was still in progress. I had just returned from Ampawha Floating Market when I met these few girls on the BTS. They happily related their day of fun at Patpong to me.
That’s a very enjoyable day, come visit Songkran Festival next year!