Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

Songkran in Bangkok: The Greatest Festival on Earth


Songkran in Bangkok is incredible — one of the absolute most fun events on the planet. For three days in April, people celebrate the new year by throwing water on each other, which quickly turns into a giant water fight in the streets.

It’s EVERYWHERE in Bangkok, and NOBODY is safe. It could be a little kid getting you with a water gun — or a little old lady in a Hawaiian shirt pouring a bowl of ice water down your back!

For me, Songkran began with an attack in the mobile phone zone at MBK, one of Bangkok’s best malls.

While perusing iPhone covers with my friends Rob and Ray, a girl behind the counter was attacked.  Out of nowhere, three people grabbed her dumped water on her and rubbed clay all over her face and hair.  She screamed with horror and glee.

It hit me — if you can get Songkraned in the middle of THE ELECTRONICS FLOOR at MBK, you aren’t safe anywhere.

The next day, Songkran began for real — water was flung everywhere in every shape and form.  Little kids eyed me suspiciously before running up and pouring buckets on me.  Groups of Thais gathered in the back of pickup trucks, wearing Hawaiian shirts and armed with water guns.

I had grabbed a cab to Rob’s place to pick up the shopping bags that I had left there the day before — all my new Bangkok clothes, plus my computer.  We decided to go back to my neighborhood via tuk-tuk, rather than an enclosed cab.


Being in a tuk-tuk was an invitation for the whole city to run up and throw water on us!  In moments, I was drenched and laughing.  (I was also praying for the safety of my computer and thankful that I had wrapped its case in several plastic bags.)

Khao San Road and its vicinity were crawling with at least a few thousand people, all of them flinging water at each other.

Lesson learned: you do NOT want to walk around Bangkok during Songkran with shopping bags.  It is NOT a good idea.

But my computer survived.

To give you an idea of what it’s like just walking down the street, check out my video:


Once I got my purchases safely locked in my room, I knew it was time to join the assault — I threw on a tank top and skirt over my bathing suit and joined the fray in the streets.

And just then, to my great delight, my dear friends Ste and Darren showed up!  I hadn’t seen them in more than a month, and they had arrived just in time for the fun to begin!

Armed with hoses and Super Soakers, we terrorized the kids in the street, fought battles, dumped water on each other.

And this went on for three full days.

Everything blurred together.  The three of us joined several of my travel blogger friends — Adam, Mike, Poi and Kirsty — and their friends for even more Songkran debauchery.

While most indoor venues are safe during Songkran, leave it to us to find the bar where we could have a water fight!

I have no words to tell you how indescribably fun Songkran is.  If you’re contemplating visiting Thailand and April, double-check your dates and make sure you come for the full three-day holiday!  It’s like nothing you’ve ever experienced.


20 Responses to “Songkran in Bangkok: The Greatest Festival on Earth”
  1. this looks as a lot of fun! crazy people 🙂

  2. Stephen says:

    Nice post. I celebrated Songkran in Phuket and Ko Phi Phi and you’re right, it was impossible not to get wet. No one is safe. Even traveling that day with my backpack, I still got soaked.

  3. Scott says:

    You know this Songkran thing just keeps popping up over and over! I don’t think i will be there next year but will do my best to get there as soon as I can. Any water balloons in the mix?

  4. What a strange but super-fun looking festival. How nice of you to brave the elements to get some footage!

  5. Sophie says:

    I couldn’t agree more! Three days of water fun is the greatest festival in the world.

  6. Greg Goodman says:

    Man, of all my travels I still look back at my time in Bangkok for Songkran as one of my favorite memories. So much fun, so wet, so much clay on the face, so many lady boys, so many tourists and locals having fun together. Good times, good times! Glad to see you had just as good a time! 🙂

    • Greg, we also had a ladyboy incident…she flashed us (Darren and I screamed and whipped our heads backwards) and then sidled up to Ste and…um…grabbed him. He jumped pretty high.

  7. van025 says:

    It’s such interesting festival that any one wants to join.Me too.Thanks for your useful lessons

  8. bili says:

    Wow it’s crazy. I do not know how I react if someone pouring water on me in the street:)
    What that interest me, what if I’m talking on cell phones on the street, that cost me $ 800 and it happens all the time. How can I get water in a situation like this: (

  9. Amanda says:

    This looks like SO MUCH FUN! Who doesn’t love a country-wide water fight that’s totally legit??

  10. braintory says:

    Wow! I really like your custom and culture in your country

  11. Tamsin says:

    Woweeeeeeeee. I’m heading to Bangkok at the beginning of January and planning on looping around Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia until late May, but now I wanna be back in Bangkok by April!

  12. Jay says:

    Songkran is a REAL FUN!!!

  13. Arianwen says:

    I love how calm everyone is in the video. It must have been on for a while by that point. The attackers don’t quite look like their heart’s in it either 🙂

  14. Angel says:

    Goodness. I think I really want to go to Bangkok for Songkran next year just to join the fun! Thanks for the heads up! Will make sure not to go to malls during the festival when I go there!

    And oh, I think the Philippines has a similar festival; but not as grand as in Thailand. It’s during the feast day of St. John the Baptist. People are literally being baptized. :))

  15. Safaa says:

    “greatest festival on earth”? hmmmm
    It’s big problem when someone go to Thailand few weeks and thinks s/he is expert. Songkran is Buddhist water festival, people go to temples to water Buddha statues and has nothing to do with stupidity which cuase the death and injuries of hunders of people every year because of idiots, which you call it the “greatest”


Check out what others are saying about this post...
  1. […] I’ve been dreaming of Thailand for years now and I can’t believe it’s finally coming true. Many people say that Thailand is ruined and overrun by tourists, I don’t care. I can’t wait to eat the street food, see the temples, get a massage or just relax on one of Thailand’s many paradise-like beaches! Do I need to say more? I recently read “13 reasons why I love Thailand” on yTravel blog and it nearly made me book a flight for next week (check it out if you’re in need of some inspiration)! Thailand will be a great, if not perfect place to start my solo-adventure, I think. Places I’m definitely going to visit are: Bangkok, Ayutthaya, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Pai, Koh Chang and Koh Lanta. The best part? I’ll be there for Songkran! Something I’ve been excited over ever since I read this post by Adventurous Kate. […]

  2. […] not talking about one of the days I had a water fight in Bangkok, or the day I danced with Vikings in Shetland, or the day I went croc cage diving (in South Africa […]

  3. […] good fortune, and to pay homage to Buddha. However, in modern days, this festival has turned into a gigantic water fight. Young people bearing buckets of water, hoses, and water guns, are let loose among the streets to […]

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