Blog Words : Insider Secrets | 14 April

How to survive Songkran festival in Thailand

Heading to Thailand's riotous New Year festival, Songkran? Here's how to survive the world's biggest water fight

What does the world's biggest water fight look like? If you're heading to Songkran in Thailand, you're about to find out.

During Songkran the normally quiet and respectful Thais go a little crazy. Arming themselves with water guns, hoses and buckets, they set about trying to soak anyone and everyone they see.

For the next three or four days, visitors to Thailand should expect to get wet and perhaps be smeared with white powder. Here's how to come out smiling...

1. Keep smiling

Try to keep your temper and smile. Unlikely as it seems, the antics of Songkran are part of the ancient tradition of paying respect to elders. For more information, see our etiquette tips for Thailand.


Children and people of Ubon Ratchathani during Songkran (Shutterstock)

2. Don't dress in white

Thin white t-shirts and tops can be pretty revealing when wet. You will also be painted with white powder. Forget what you look like, and soak up the atmosphere.

3. Make your valuables waterproof

If you take your camera out with you, make sure you put it in a plastic bag. Better still, buy a waterproof camera or a waterproof case. Want to take incredible shot? See our tips for photographing water festivals. Also, make a photocopy of your passport to take out with you, and leave all important documents in a secure (and dry) place.

4.  Accept your fate

Even a quick trip to a local restaurant is likely to include a soaking. A meter taxi or bus may offer some protection, but if you ride in a tuk-tuk, you're just asking for it. If you go out on a motorcycle, take even more care than usual: bike accidents soar during the festival period.


Songkran ceremony (Shutterstock)

5. Seek out Songkran's traditional side

Songkran is not just about water fights. Make an effort to see the more traditional side of the festival. Water is used to gently wash the hands of elders and monks and bathe Buddha images. Sand pagodas are constructed in the temple grounds. See our guide to Thailand's best bits – with cultural insights galore...


Main image: Revelers and elephants join in water splashing during Songkran Festival (Shutterstock)