In a week it’ll be the Thai New Year, otherwise known as Songkran. This year Songkran officially runs from April 13th to the 15th but in reality, Songkran expands to fill in about 5-7 days of travel, celebration and general mayhem.
Many people believe the place to celebrate Songkran is up north in Chiang Mai or Chiang Ria but let me tell you it’s great to be in Bangkok for the water festival. It’s a little crazy but wonderful to see the Thais so happy and that’s the really the appeal of this brilliant country; the Thai people and their love of life.
The Buddhist New Year means water in April for Thais. It’s customary to throw water over anyone and everyone on the streets of Bangkok. Apart from that white powder is also placed on the face. This all symbolizes renewal and optimism for the year ahead. April is the hottest and driest time of the year so the water seems like a natural relief from the heat.
During Songkran Bangkok can feel quite empty so the traffic is light which is an anomaly in this frenetic city. This is because most Thais are from the country and work in Bangkok. So every Songkran buses are filled with people heading out of town to reunite with their families in the countryside which leaves Bangkok feeling rather tranquil. Of course the traffic in and out of the city before and after Songkran is anything but tranquil.
Riding a tuk tuk or motorbike will make sure you’ll be a target of water throwing. Pails of water and hoses will be sprayed all over you. Frankly, it looks a little dangerous as massive bowls of water are thrown in the face of motorists driving past.
Plastic cases are sold on the sidewalks so that you can keep your phone dry while flip flops and water guns take over from the knock-off Louis Vuitton being hawked as street vendors. Many businesses are closed at this time of year over the official dates of the celebrations. The Patpong Market, usually one of Bangkok’s most vibrant, is virtually closed due to all the merchandise being soaked.
Here are some dos and don’ts if you plan to visit for the New Year:
Do wear clothes that will be ok when drenched
Do put your phone in a plastic protector
Do let your guard down and enjoy
Do wear flip flops
Do smile as everyone else does
Don’t get angry if water is thrown at you
Don’t expect to go shopping
Don’t wear a business suite
Don’t drive or take a motorbike or tuk tuk (safety first)
Don’t take a bus that has open windows
Above all smile
Daniel Green, the Model Cook is a Celebrity Chef known for his healthy approach to food and living well. With TV, books, magazines and live appearances, Daniel spends his time helping fans to cook better, feel better and live better. He’s also an avid traveler and a self-confessed Foodie.