Songkran in Bangkok: The Greatest Festival on Earth

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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.

WE GOT SOAKED.

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.


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20 thoughts on “Songkran in Bangkok: The Greatest Festival on Earth”

  1. 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.

  2. 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?

    1. 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.

  3. 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: (

  4. 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!

  5. 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 🙂

  6. 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. :))

  7. “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”

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