The New Year festivities differ across countries, but if you’re in Thailand be prepared for things to get wet and wild!
Songkran marks the beginning of the Thai solar calendar. Originally, the Thai New Year falls on a different date on the Gregorian calendar each year. However, the dates were fixed for the 13th – 15th April to make it easier for travellers to make plans for joining in the celebrations. Don’t expect the fun to end just after a couple of days though – the Thais love to celebrate, and the Songkran festivities usually last over the week.
You’re joining in the fun and celebration! What can you expect?
Apart from being soaked, you can also expect to get colourful (dyes may be added to the water), covered in paste (that’s talcum powder) or experience a cool, tingly sensation on your skin (Tiger balm may be added to the water too).
It’s a good idea to take an occasional break from the wet and wild fun. Retreat to one of the resorts, hotels, restaurants and cafes along the streets to dry off and refuel on food and drinks. Make sure you’re seated away from open spaces, entrances and windows – or you might end up as an unsuspecting target for mischievous passers-by on the streets.
In most places celebrations start to wind down about 6pm. At busier areas, like Chaweng and Lamai, don’t expect the action to end so soon – it’s likely that splashes of water will come your way even after dusk. Ample party venues are found in these areas, which is perfect if you’re in the mood for late night revelry.
Where should you go if you want to avoid the crowds?
Being soaked to the bone isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. If you prefer to keep dry, it’s best to avoid going out at all. You might be able to avoid getting splashed at during the early morning and after dark when you head outdoors, but this requires meticulous planning on the routes that you plan to take, and largely depends on where you’re staying at in Samui.
Tips and etiquette:
- Clothing: Ladies should avoid light-coloured items or clothing made of thin materials. Bring along a towel and a spare set of clothes to change into when you want to keep dry. Ensure that these are stored in a sealed plastic bag.
- Store your valuables safely: Cameras, phones, wallets and other valuables should be kept in sealed plastic bags.
- Keep well hydrated: It’s warm, the days are long, and there’s a high chance that you’ll be spending hours at a go outdoors. Make sure you stay hydrated in the heat of the tropics.
- Play safe: Don’t splash out at passers-by riding on scooters or bikes as it may cause an accident. The same rule applies to the elderly and babies. It’s also considered rude to shoot or spray water at monks.
- Don’t drive: Foreigners riding past on scooters and bikes make for attractive targets, so it’s best to avoid driving out when the celebrations are in full swing.
- Remember, it’s a family-oriented celebration: Songkran is very much a family-oriented celebration with plenty of children joining in the fun on the streets. Along with adhering to a proper dress code (no skimpy clothing please!), avoid participating in belligerent behaviour like throwing buckets of ice water at passers-by, groping or appearing in various stages of undress in public.
- Keep calm and smile: Be prepared to be splashed, soaked and sprayed at even when you’ve had enough of joining in the celebrations. It’s done in the name of harmless fun, so remember to keep your cool.
- Pace yourself: The fun and action can be a week-long affair, so pace yourself if you’re intent on joining in all the festivities – from water fights in the day to partying and night time revelry after dusk.
- The Joyous Songkran Splendours (13 April 2016, Chaweng Beach)
- Koh Samui Songkran Festival at The Beach Bar (12 April 2016, Chaweng Noi Beach)
- Amazing Sunday Brunch: Songkran Thai New Year (10 April 2016, Nikki Beach Club)
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