For some, Songkran is a once in a lifetime experience; for others Songkran is a please-make-this-just-a once in a lifetime experience. As has been the case for many years, thousands of you will be heading out of dodge to avoid the mayhem, grid-locked traffic, brown klong water soaked clothes and the general revelry that chokes and soaks the city annually. But there will also be thousands who are already stockpiling their water guns, making plans with friends, strategically searching for water-war stations from which to launch attacks and gleefully looking forward to quite literally submerging themselves in the festivities.
I admit to being part of the latter crowd. I actually look forward to Songkran in the same way that many look forward to Christmas. I start counting the days, I plan activities and gatherings with friends, I anticipate that first squirt to the face like children do to the opening of their first present. I know I might catch conjunctivitis – been there, done that – I also know that I will most likely be sitting in traffic most of the day and then spend the last two hours as the sun sets at the back of some truck, freezing cold and miserably, waiting for the meandering flow of cars to finally deliver me back to my warm shower and dry clothes. And I love it!
So, if you are on Team Songkran, here are a few ideas to help you go all out this year.
Being our new year and all, Songkran is a big deal across all sectors and our municipality is doing its bit to make sure that we don’t forget that this is not some citywide Club 18-30 Ibiza party, but in fact an old, deeply traditional and religious festival. Starting from 1st April there will be a slew of competitions, games and cultural events scattered around the city.
Weapons of Aqua Destruction
Basic: Buy a plastic bowl, drill a hole through it and tie a string to it so you can draw water from the moat as you go along.
Standard: Water guns come in all shapes, sizes and powers and range between 50-1,000 baht.
Advanced: Gather some friends onto a pick-up truck, fill it with large tubs of water, chill it with ice cubes and wreak havoc.
The moat takes about two hours to walk around and is a fun way to enjoy the festival. Lazy? Rent a tuk tuk and for around 600-700 baht you can ride around in (relative) style. You will become a guaranteed H2O target, but strap on a pair of goggles and you won’t care.
Splashy Street Parties
Well, apart from the entire city being a street party, there are special areas such as in front of Kad Suan Kaew, 12 Huay Kaew, Airport Plaza and Tha Pae Gate where stages will be set up and live music will be performed at ear shattering decibels. Dance the day away and wiggle that wet booty.
Drunk drivers do a lot of killing and dying over Songkran and authorities are having none of it this year, so areas such as the moat and other party zones will be dry…well, so to speak. There will also be checkpoints throughout the city with breathalyzers. Buoys will be placed in the moat to indicate safety areas which are not too deep and teams of mobile medical experts will be on standby.
Blast from the Past
If you like a bit of tradition, but still want to have some fun, take a vehicle and drive along the old Chiang Mai-Lamphun Road where they celebrate Songkran the way I remember it was a few decades ago: clusters of villagers eating, drinking and chatting by the side of the road will politely throw water at you with far less aggression than those in town, and if you are friendly you might even be invited into someone’s compound for a drink or a meal.
Merry Merit Making
Most temples will be having traditional merit-making activities, and some of these customs are truly lovely. Visit Wat Lok Molee, Wat Phra Singh, Buddha Satarn, Wat Chedi Luang or Wat Gate and find out how you can get yourselves some karma credit and fabulous Instagrams to boot.
Kad Suan Kaew’s stage will feature Playground, Lula, Superbaker, Paradox, Big Ass, Lipta, Slot Machine, Jetset’Er and Tatoo Colour.
Good View will have mini concerts by The Voice’s Nut and Tee from 9.30 nightly.
Other venues like WarmUp, Zoe in Yellow, etc. will also be doing their thing, so check them out.
Ratchaphruek Royal Flora will be holding a Dok Euang Doi Ngam festival 11th-18th.
The annual parade through town is a spectacular event where you can gain merit by throwing water blessings upon a Buddha statue, and – this is far more fun and satisfying! – the governor and other officious officials!
For details on all of these events and many many more, check out our Songkran calendar at www.city-now.com.