The Songkran Festival Survival Guide

posted in: Thailand | 18

The Songkran Festival Survival Guide

What Is Songkran Festival?

Songkran is the Thai New Year’s festival. The holiday is known for its water festival with many tourists coming to Thailand to take part in the festivities. Young and old all take part in this tradition of splashing water on each other. The water is used to represent purification and washing away of sin and bad luck.

Local kids enjoying Songkran in Chiang Mai

Where to Celebrate Songkran

The majority of places in Thailand will take part in the celebration of Songkran. The most popular place for celebrating Songkran is Chiang Mai. This is where I chose to take part in the festivities. Other popular areas are Bangkok, Phuket, Koh Phangan, Pai, Koh Tao, Pattaya and Ayutthaya.

If you do decide to celebrate Songkran Festival in Chiang Mai make sure you stick around for a few days after. There are plenty of fun and quirky things to do in Chiang Mai.

Chiang Mai Songkran Festival

How to Prepare


Book Early

Tourists flood to Thailand from all over the world so book your accommodation as early as you can. Especially if you plan on celebrating Songkran Festival in one of the more popular destinations. The good hotels will book up fast so booking early could save you some disappointment.

Locals enjoying Songkran in Chiang Mai

Prepare to Get Wet

As soon as you step outside of your hotel or hostel be prepared to become a target. People will be flooding the streets armed with water guns and even buckets. Locals will be sat outside their shops with pools of water ready to attack anyone who walks by. People will be squirting you all day as well as throwing buckets of water over you so you will get completely soaked.

Chiang Mai Songkran Festival

Protect Your Valuables

Songkran festival is a massive water fight which means your valuables need protecting. Either keep your possessions locked up in your room or invest in a waterproof bag. These bags will be available all over the country in a variety of sizes. I kept my phone in a waterproof bag and it was completely safe the whole time.

Chiang Mai Songkran Festival

Get Ready to Attack

Unless you just plan to be a target you’re going to need a weapon. Throughout the country you will find a variety of squirt guns on offer from the small and cute to the large and deadly. Just keep in mind that the water guns won’t be high quality so you may end up buying more than one throughout the festival. Don’t worry though, there are plenty of cheap options out there so no need to worry about breaking the budget.

Chiang Mai Songkran Festival

How to Behave


Do Respect the 7am-7pm Time

Something a lot people don’t pay attention to is the fact the water fights are only supposed to last until 7pm. The idea being that once the sun sets and it’s not as easy to dry off, it’s time to stop. While a lot of people are happy to continue after 7pm, if you spot someone after this time who asks you not to soak them, respect that request.

Water fights at Chiang Mai Songkran

Don’t Soak Monks, Babies or the Elderly

Songkran festival is enjoyed by everyone of all ages so keep that in mind while you’re out there having a good time. It’s easy to get carried away with the fun but try not to soak young children, monks or the elderly. Also try and avoid getting anyone in the eye. If you’ve ever been shot in the eye with a squirt gun you’ll know how painful it is!

Monks in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Do Wear Clothes That Dry Fast

You will be getting soaked all day so you will need to wear clothes that dry fast. There’s nothing worse than wearing uncomfortable, wet clothes. Loose fitting shorts and a vest top are a good option.

Chiang Mai Songkran Water Fight

Don’t Run Around in a Bikini or Half Naked

I celebrated Songkran Festival in Chiang Mai, a place full of religious temples, so it would have been completely inappropriate for me to run around in my bikini all day. Keep yourself covered up out of respect of the locals.

Chiang Mai Songkran Water Fight

Do Keep Your Valuables Safe

I know I’ve said it already but it’s worth repeating. It’s a water fight where you will have buckets of water chucked over you. Keep all electronics either in a waterproof bag or safe in your hotel room. The waterproof bags are clear so you can still take pictures from your phone without having to remove it from the safety of the bag. I was able to Snapchat throughout the whole festival!

Chiang Mai Songkran Water Fight

Don’t Drink the Water

The water may start out clean but by the end of the day people will be trying to get water wherever they can. In Chiang Mai I saw a lot of people filling up their guns and buckets from the river. That water was then used to soak me.

Girl filling up bucket with water during Chiang Mai Songkran Festival

Do Pace Yourself

Songkran Festival lasts all day for 3 days so you’ll want to take it easy on the celebrations. Try not to drink too much too fast and make sure you drink water in between your alcoholic drinks. Just not the water from the river!

Water fights during Chiang Mai Songkran

Don’t Drive a Scooter

It’s easy to rent a scooter in Thailand with no insurance or proof that you can even drive the thing! If you’re an unexperienced driver Songkran is not the time to be on wheels. Play it safe and stick to walking. Leave the scooter driving to the experienced locals!

Locals on scooter during Chiang Mai Songkran Festival

Do Ask Before Taking Water from Shops

Locals love Songkran and will have water tanks set up outside their shops. Some will be ice water which will be a shock the first time it hits you! Most shop owners are happy to share the water, after all it’s all part of the fun. However, it’s polite to ask first as some shop owners will have two tanks. One of tap water for everyone and another full of ice water they save for themselves and their customers. Our hotel had a pool for guests so we were allowed to sit and attack from there.

Travel bloggers Claire from The Curious Explorers and Emily Luxton enjoying Chiang Mai Songkran

Don’t Ride in a Tuk Tuk

Don’t ride in a tuk tuk unless you want to be an open target. All the people in the streets will stop what the are doing when a moving vehicle comes their way. If you don’t want to be the target stay out of the tuk tuks. However, on the last day of Songkran that was exactly what we wanted so we split the price of a tuk tuk and drove around. We got soaked but it was a lot of fun.

Water attack during Chiang Mai Songkran Festival

Do Take a GoPro if You Have One

Sadly your digital camera will not survive 3 days of water fights so the best way to get pictures is to take a GoPro out with you. A chest harness with a GoPro attached is the perfect combination for Songkran. Thanks to my GoPro I came home with some fantastic action pictures.

Chiang Mai Songkran Festival

Don’t Forget to Have Fun

While it’s important to stay safe and respect the locals the most important thing to remember is to have fun. Taking part in Songkran was one of the highlights of my Asia trip. It was three days of acting like a kid and I loved every second of it. I can’t wait to enjoy Songkran festival again.

Water fights during Chiang Mai Songkran



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The Songkran Festival Survival Guide

18 Responses

  1. I’ve never heard of this fun water festival! A three-day water fight will definitely bring out the kid in all of us. What a great celebration!
    Alli Smith recently posted…Gifted Movie Screening and Review

  2. Now this looks like a fun festival!! I need to check it out and go one year!!

  3. Robin rue

    That sounds like a really amazing festival. I have never heard of it before, but I would love to go someday!!

  4. Never heard of a songkran festival but I have never been to Thailand. Looks like a fun time was had by everyone.
    candy recently posted…Brownie Master Mix

  5. Wow, this looks like SUCH a good time. What sounds better than three days of water fights!

  6. This looks liks such a great time. I didn’t know water festivals existed but this looks AMAZING!

  7. Angelic Sinova

    The Songkran Festival looks like so much fun! I’ve always wanted to visit Thailand. It’s definitely on my travel bucket list.

  8. Looks like a really fun festival! I understand the symbolism and I am sure a lot of tourists enjoy participating in dousing people with water. I love your tips on how to “survive” the Songkran festival. I have to remember that if and when I find myself in Thailand during their New Year Festival.

  9. How fun! I did not know about this Thai festival until now. I can just imagine the laughter and squeals. Thanks for listing the do’s and don’ts so we can be aware of them if and when we get to Thailand during this unique celebration of the New Year.

  10. Pinning because I am definitely going next year. Thailand is on my bucketlist and this looks amazingly fun my phone is waterproof!!!

  11. Great guide! I was in 2015 in Chiang Mai and Pai during Songkran and it was such a fun experience!
    So glad I was there.

  12. What a fun festival. I would love to go visit Thailand during the new year and participate in Songkran. What a cool concept to wash the sins off for the New Year.

  13. The Sonkran sounds like a fun festival!!! Now I wanna visit Thailand during the New Year so i can experience it.
    Peachy @ The Peach Kitchen recently posted…Garlic Lime Cilantro Yogurt Sauce

  14. Very interesting. The Songkran festival is very similar to Holi in India. A time for fun and frolic. Hope to get to Thailand during this festival some day and will definitely keep your tips in mind.
    Sandy N Vyjay recently posted…The Heritage Transport Museum in Pictures

  15. How fun! It looks like such a fun festival, I have never heard of it. I love that everyone just seems to be having a good time!
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  16. I would so love to be there! You gave some amazing tips too!

  17. Looks like a very fun festival! I would love to be there! Sounds amazing!

  18. I’ve never even heard of this before. This looks like a blast for sure!

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