Songkran: Celebrating Thai New Year In Bangkok Thailand
Have you experienced a New Year celebration unlike any you’re used to? When I was in Thailand in April 2011 during my round the world trip, I was able to celebrate Songkran which I knew nothing about previously. My timing was purely coincidental and I’m so happy I was able to experience this interesting and crazy cultural celebration.
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What is Songkran you ask?
It’s Thai New Year! It coincides with many other New Years’ celebrations in Southeast Asia like Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Lao. It’s now known as the biggest water fight in the world because of the tradition for people to throw water at you for the duration of the 4-day celebrations. Throwing or pouring water symbolizes a cleansing of sins.
While I was in Bangkok I stayed with my friend DJ Ono, who I knew from Vancouver. I hadn’t planned on spending more than a few days in Bangkok. I was hoping to go south to the islands but there was a huge flood on Koh Samui. The Thai Navy evacuated anyone who was on the island. Plus the Vancouver Canucks, the hockey team, were in the playoffs and winning. DJ Ono loves the Canucks and his belief was that if I changed our daily routine of watching the game together, it would affect the outcome. I was forced to stay until the playoff series was over. Haha!
It was perfect that Songkran was happening while I was there. Ono was performing at a 4-day block party in the RCA district, also known as Royal City Avenue. It’s a nightlife district in Bangkok where nightclubs line the street. It’s where locals party. We didn’t partake in any other Songkran celebrations other than going to RCA. I had such a blast! I know there are larger celebrations Chiang Mai and as well in Pattaya but I had a blast with my friends in the RCA.
I didn’t take incredible photos of my Songkran experience. I didn’t have a waterproof camera or a waterproof case for my iPhone. If you do plan on being in Thailand during Songkran, get yourself a Lifeproof case for your phone or a GoPro. I have both now and it’s nice to have that security when near water.
Helpful tips for Songkran:
- Wear clothes that you don’t mind getting wet and dirty in, clothes you may actually toss out. The water being thrown at you is nasty moat water!
- Guys should wear board shorts and girls should wear bikinis/bathing suit under their clothes. Wet clothes will become sheer or clingy.
- Wear some eye protection especially if you wear contacts. I wore glasses and shut my eyes a lot.
- Keep your mouth closed!
- Wear non-slip waterproof shoes – I saw so many people slip and fall. I wore Chuck Taylors that I tossed out after the celebrations. They were gross by the end of it. Flip flops are not sturdy but can the job. Natives Shoes are even better since they are waterproof and have traction.
- If you have a GoPro, now is the time to use it!!!
- If you don’t have a GoPro, at least get a LifeProof case or something like this by Lewis and Clark
Here are some of my photos at RCA’s Songkran and two video snippet:
Getting ready to toss a bucket of water at someone
Yes he’s hosing her down
There were thousands of people at RCA’s celebrations. I hosed them down with a fire hose!!
Me and my Songkran crew
Don’t wear white to a water fight!
Here’s are some video snippets from my camera: