Surviving Songkran

With only three days to go before the biggest party you’ll probably take part in, here are some tips on how to prepare and what to expect during the 3-day Thai New Year festival.

In Bangkok, the two main areas to experience the dowsing mayhem are Silom, the business district and Khao San Road, the backpacker haven. Smaller gatherings also happen in neighborhoods and can be just as fun. The key to surviving the three-day ballistic festivities is keeping a cool head as no one is immune from having a target on their backs.

Dress to get wet and it’s best to leave your expensive shoes, sandals, and shades at the hotel as things can get pretty out of hand in the crowd. If you want to get into the spirit of things, wear one of those tropical floral-printed shirts aka “the Songkran Shirt”. It’s unmistakably festival time when you are greeted by immigration officers wearing such wardrobe at the airport.

Be extra careful with mobile phones, wallets and cameras. Should you really need to carry these, make sure they are properly sealed in waterproof casings or Ziploc bags. Of course, anti-theft measures should also apply.

It is worth mentioning that when riding a tuk-tuk, the driver will stop at every street corner where small groups of water throwers are waiting to drench you. Taxis will be willing to take you to your destination, but where’s the fun in that?

Weapon of Choice #1: Invest on a water pistol or anything that can shoot water from a streetside stall. You can opt for a cute “Winnie the Pooh” or “Minnie Mouse” water shooter or go with the more “manly” super shooter 5000. Prices range anywhere between 200-600THB but it’s always best to bargain.

Weapon of Choice #2: As the water guns can become quite heavy in the long run, why not just arm yourself with a bucket full of ice-cold water. It will surely leave your victim screaming.

There’s simply no way to beat the high-powered hose courtesy of your friendly-neighborhood fireman with a really cool helmet. For a low-cost version, a garden hose will do.

Introducing… the dreaded white powder! Traditionally applied to the face or neck to ward of evil, nowadays it is applied indiscriminately to unsuspecting victims. This can be quite unpleasant as it can sting the eyes, so it’s a good idea to wear goggles or some sort of eye protection.

“Get wet get even” seems to be the mantra of the modern Songkran. Attacks can come from any and all directions, hence it always pays to keep your cool and your pistol loaded. Water (bottled or straight from faucet) are sold anywhere between 5-20THB. But if you are smart, you will most likely want to position yourself in a restaurant that gives away free water for paying customers.

Accessorize. All in the name of Sanuk, dress up and stand out amongst the crowd, be it with an elaborate costume, an horrific mask, swim gear, or your favorite wig. Be playful, fun and sexy.

The ultimate Songkran experience wouldn’t be complete without splashing around the city onboard a pick-up truck. While walking on the side streets, be very wary of this crowd, as all concept about gravitational force seem to get lost on them while on the joyride around town. Water coming down on you can be quite heavy and un-pleasant.