The Ultimate Newbie Guide to Thailand

Songkran (Thai New Year)

Songkran is the traditional Thai New Year and is officially observed for three days on 13, 14 and 15 April.

A key element of Songkran is water. Originally the rituals involved small amounts of water captured after having been poured on Buddhas cleansing and then using this "blessed" water to give good fortune to elders and family by gently pouring it on the shoulder.

Though the traditions are still well and alive, water thronging has taken a whole new meaning in modern times and to the casual observer it appears that the holiday is nothing but dowsing others in massive amounts of water. This is especially true in tourist areas such as Phuket and Pattaya, where the event durations has not only expanded way beyond the three day official holiday, but the actions also tend to spin out of control. In places like Pattaya, expect Songkran to continue through 20 April for a full 8 days of madness.

It is not unusual for groups driving around in pick-up trucks loaded with large buckers of ice-water which the throw on people the pass. This includes motorbike drivers who's safety is seriously jeopardized. The use of powerful water cannons are also becoming mainstream.

Most who experience Songkran for the first time report it as loads of fun .... at least for one or two days. Conversely most also wish not to experience it again. Many farangs living in the most affected areas choose to escape during Songkran. Some go to more remote areas of Thailand where the 3-day even will be much more modest and enjoyable, some leave the country for a 'little holiday' and some stock up and stay indoors.

A fair number of bar girls take the opportunity to leave and go back home to enjoy this traditional family holiday. By no means does that mean that the P4P areas are voided of available girls, but in some area it is noticeable. Many girls who do not leave for an at-home holiday take great pleasure in partaking in the madness.

For more information about Songkran, the traditions and the modern festival refer to Wikipedia - Songkran or other site using this Google Search.

All this obviously warrants the question: "Shall I go and experience it or should I stay away?"
Obviously one will have to his own conclusion. If you are in doubt, certainly do some more research and if possible schedule a trip where you will only be in Thailand for a few of the days.
If you choose to go be prepared to deal with the water, be prepared to be soaking wet most of the day (not always so bad in 30C/90F) and be prepared to protect items that may not be allows to get wet at all times, including mobile phones, cameras and even paper money. Ziploc bags work well, but still the devises being protected are hardly usable while in the bag. An alternative option for mobile phone is to put them in a non lubricated condom; making them fully usable and waterproof at the same time.

The Ultimate Newbie
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