With Songkran 2018 fast approaching it’s time to start planning accordingly. Last year was my first Songkran. I was in Bangkok at the time and had no idea what to expect. Suffice to say I was taken back by the sheer insanity of this Thai celebration.
From my experiences last year, I’m going to drop some tips for people who may be experiencing their first Songkran this April. See this as your survival guide. It’s worth noting that Songkran is different in each area of Thailand, even down to the dates. Last year in Bangkok it was a 3-day event. This year I will be in Pattaya where a week of madness is quite normal.
Officially Songkran 2018 will run from Friday, April 13th through Sunday, April 15th.
If this party in Bangkok wasn’t enough for you, travel down to Pattaya where celebrations will continue through to the 19th.
Road deaths in Thailand skyrocket every year during Songkran celebrations. While no official reasons are given it’s not hard to speculate and know what to watch out for. My advice is avoiding all forms of motorbike transport. With wet roads and drunk drivers, it’s a recipe for disaster. If you have to go anywhere, use a metered taxi or GrabTaxi. You should be ok in a tuk-tuk or baht bus but be prepared to get very wet. While main areas will be traffic free such as Silom Road in Bangkok, getting to and from these areas can be tricky. If it’s possible just walk to your destination.
Protect your belongings
Stores and street merchants have already started selling Songkran related gear. While buying a water gun is not essential, protective pouches for your cell phone and other valuables certainly is. Don’t cheap out here and get a cheap button up one. Get one of the clear pouches with a zip and button over. If you want to use a camera, you can also get special water-proof pouches for those.
Protect your eyes
While not as big of an issue in central Bangkok, people in other parts of Thailand often get eye and ear infections after Songkran. This is simply because of dirty water. It’s not always easy to establish where kids and locals may be refilling their water guns. While you may be happy paying 5 Baht for a refill, some locals would rather use a nearby ditch. Many vendors on the street will sell protective eye goggles and these are well worth considering if you don’t already wear glasses or you have sunglasses to wear.
Don’t drink too much and stay hydrated
It’s not uncommon to see a stupid backpacker passed out on the sidewalk during Songkran. A mix of the heat, dehydration & intoxication becomes too much for many revelers. Without sounding like your mother, stay hydrated throughout the day. It’s damn hot in Thailand this time of year and being wet & reasonable cool all day can trick you into thinking you are alright. Also, don’t drink from open glasses or plastic cups. You have no idea what’s in that water splashing into your drink. For more information on drinking in Thailand, we did an in-depth guide here.
Most people wear those bright colorful shirts during Songkran. They are very lightweight, don’t retain water and are cheap to buy. You can get them now at any Big C, Tesco Lotus, and some street vendors. If these bright colors are not for you, opt for a similar lightweight shirt. Avoid cotton t-shirts and shorts. I learned this lesson last year.
Behave respectfully & don’t get angry
While it’s no secret some visitors to Thailand take things way too far, for the most part, people are respectful during Songkran. Don’t be the asshole to throw a bucket of water into a restaurant doorway or a person on a passing motorbike. Having said that, if it does happen to you don’t lose your temper. You chose to be in Thailand for Songkran, so bite your tongue and get on with your day.
I wish you all an exciting, safe and happy Songkran 2018 celebration. Did we miss any key advice? Let us know in the comments!