Originating as a Buddhist festival, Songkran is one giant celebration of fun in Thailand. Now, Songkran is, without doubt Thailand’s most important holiday and one of its biggest tourist attractions – a time when Thais and tourists alike take part in boisterous street water fights armed with water guns and other receptacles useful for hurling water.
Here, we compiled a few tips to help you survive the celebrations of Songkran and how you can enjoy yourself there in the best way:
Water and electronic devices don’t usually mix. You want to capture all the fun of Songkran without ruining your expensive camera or phone, so stow your phone in a waterproof plastic case that you can wear around your neck or keep handy. Even the latest ‘waterproof’ phones can get broken easily in a water skirmish. Consider taking your phone with you very carefully and think about how you’re going to protect it – putting it in your pocket ain’t going to cut it during Songkran! Better still, buy a waterproof camera or action camera with waterproof casing to avoid taking out your phone. Also, keep your cash, cards and a photocopy of your passport tucked in a plastic ziplock bag to take out with you, and leave all important documents in a secure and dry place.
While this is the hottest time of the year in Thailand and though the Songkran water fun seems the perfect way to keep you cool, it won't protect you from the UV radiation of the hot sun. You are going to be running around outside for hours, so you will need a few layers of waterproof application of SPF30+. Also, you will need to keep applying sunscreen which is easily washed off with all the water being thrown at you. You can also wear a hat to protect yourself from the sun.
You will be getting very wet, so you will want to dress in light fabrics and beachwear. Board shorts, tank tops, sandals or flip flops. No good shoes can survive multiple water skirmishes. Avoid white or thin fabric garment as it becomes transparent when it’s wet, and avoid heavy fabrics that are uncomfortable to walk in when wet, like jeans. Women may want to wear a swimsuit underneath their clothes to ensure that you don’t show more than you planned. For Songkran fashionista, a pair of swimming goggles or any protective eyewear might not be such a bad idea, you never know when you will get a splash right on your face!
Songkran is basically a huge water fight, so arm yourself with the right weapon and get ready to get soaked! We are talking water guns, buckets, bowls and any other receptacles useful for hurling water — all of them are fair game on the streets of Thailand during Songkran. You can refill them with safe and clean water at free water stations set up by local authorities throughout popular water-splashing areas.
Although the frivolity of Songkran is only part of its charm, there is real symbolism and significance to the festival. Centuries before the tourism industry made Songkran synonymous with water guns, it was, and still is, a time when Thais pay their respects to their elders by pouring water through their hands - a gesture meant to symbolise purification ahead of the New Year. The real meaning behind the splashing is to wash off misfortune and welcome the New Year with a fresh start.
Over the three-day festival, there will be colourful processions to the temples to make merit. Tourists are welcome to help bath sacred Buddha images at the temples, a merit-making act that is believed to bring good luck for the New Year. Sand pagodas are constructed in the temple grounds too. Just remember to follow a few rules when you are in a temple site: dress conservatively, do not touch anyone’s head, do not point your feet toward Buddha or a Buddhist monk, remove your shoes before entering the temple hall, do not touch any of the monks, and avoid public displays of affection until you are off the grounds.
The inimitable charm of the Songkran attracts travellers to Thailand in droves annually. The Songkran Festival 2019 will take place on the 13th to 15th April. It’s still not too late, grab your air ticket and hotel bundle package NOW at Mayflower.com.my! Also, follow Mayflower’s Facebook page NOW for the latest travel deals!