I like to attend different festivals as they give you the feel and experience of local culture. Whenever I get a chance to be part of any festival, I grab it. Here is my experience of Songkran Bangkok.
This year I got a chance to visit Bangkok during Songkran festival. It is Thai new year festival and celebrated for 3 days from 13th to 15th April. Most of the places remain close during this time. Some streets are closed to traffic and are used as areas for water fights. Children, young, old, everyone follows the tradition of water throwing on each other.
I reached Bangkok on13th early morning and took the airport metro for my place of stay. I reached by 7 AM and checked in. After checking with reception, I came to know that the closest celebration area is Silom street. They have closed it for traffic and it is full of people celebrating the festival. It is always recommended to make your gang when you go to the festival because then you can enjoy more. I was alone so, I checked with the lady on reception if other people are going for it from the hostel. She informed that some people leaving for festival around 1.00 PM. As I could not sleep in flight or at the airport so, I decided to take nap.
At 1.00 PM, I met 7 other people at the reception. When we introduced each other, we realized that 8 of us belong to 6 different countries but have one common agenda…. Songkran 🙂
We walked and reached Silom road and from far away I noticed there were so many people. There were road blocks to stop traffic and as you cross barricade there were people from all nationalities enjoying the water throwing on each other. A couple of people in our group came prepared with water guns and tiny buckets to throw water. The crowd was moving in one direction and people throwing water on each other. Some of the people standing on side of the roads and throwing water on people moving. It was so much fun. There were guns and buckets for sale, in case if someone is not prepared. Water was selling for people to refill, infect most of them were selling cold water…. Ha ha… Yes. They have put big blocks of ice in water and it was chilled water. Thankfully it was hot so, cold water was fun. We spent some 3 hours there before coming back to the hostel. People were going and coming. The festival of water throwing goes till midnight and then again starts in morning, this routine goes on for 3 days. At night it is more of the party scene on the roads where the festival is celebrated. Infect people will throw water on you while you are walking on the street or if you are traveling in a tuk-tuk.
Don’t shy away and use kiddo guns to throw water. It is fun.
On the second day, I visited other parts of the city instead of going to street for water throwing. I have seen that people have put up tents near the wall of Royal palace and distributing drinks & food to the people. I came to know they were doing this in respect of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who passed in October 2015. This was a gesture to show their gratitude towards him. Infect tons of people were visiting Royal Palace to pay respect and all of them were dressed in black.
Another place I went to was Wat Pho. Here they were celebrating water festival. Visiting temples and pouring water on Buddha statues is considered an important ritual for this festival. Water pouring represents the washing away of one’s sins & bad luck and hence purification. One monk was pouring water on people with a broom to clear the bad luck. I also stood in line and got myself purified 🙂
On Last day of the Songkran festival, I reached Siem Reap Cambodia. Here people were celebrating it as Khmer new year and streets were full of people throwing water. One difference I noticed between Thailand and Cambodia was that in Cambodia they were pouring Telcom powder also with water, whereas in Thailand I saw it very less. In Cambodia people traveling in vehicles in groups with water drums, it was something like water throwing gangs. In Bangkok Songkran I have not seen this thing.
Things to remember when attending Songkran Bangkok –
- Don’t carry camera or mobile in open at any public place, in case if you want to take pictures or use the phone then make sure you have a waterproof cover for your electronic items. Waterproof bags for phone and money are available everywhere buy one.
- Take part in water throwing. Buy your weapons 😉 I mean water gun or bucket to throw water.
- Wear lightweight or easy drying clothes so that you dry fast and not feel cold as water sometimes is very cold. No one wants to get sick.
- If you don’t want to get wet while traveling than use taxi instead of tuk-tuk because people throw water on vehicles.
- Many food places remain closed or some close little early than usual. Make sure you check for the closing timing else you will get stuck with some bad eating option or have to buy from 7Elevan.
- Don’t get offended if someone throws water on you. Usually, people don’t if you make the sign of no from distance.
- If you are traveling during Songkarn Festival then be prepared for closed markets.