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How To Survive Songkran In Chiang Mai

Songkran is the Thai New Year’s national holiday. It is celebrated every year from April 13th – April 15th, giving you plenty of time to party.

There are many places to celebrate the holiday, but I found it best to celebrate Songkran in Chiang Mai.

Songkran is a huge festival where the streets close down to allow for the massive amounts of celebrating and water fights that happen throughout the country.

It is the world’s largest water fight. And if you just so happen to be in Thailand during these days, there is no avoiding it.

You will get wet.

Ice-cold water will be thrown on you for 3 days if you are anywhere out in public. So be warned if you aren’t planning on traveling to Thailand for Songkran.

Thailand is a bucket list county, and Songkran is a bucket list festival.

There are many do’s and don’t’s that you will want to abide by if you plan on going.

Thai People enjoying Sonkran festival
Songkrang celebration in Nimmanhaemin Road

History of Songkran

Songkran, deriving from Sanskrit, which means to shift or to move.

It is when the sun moves from one zodiac sign into another which technically means the Songkran actually happens 12 times a year, but they only celebrate it once.

However, Songkran is celebrated when the sun shifts from Pisces to Aries. This is considered the great Songkran because it signifies the New Year in the Zodiac calendar.

One that should be celebrated with water.

Both the Thais and Buddhists believe that you can cleanse and purify your soul by pouring water over your head.

The water is meant to bring you good luck, good health, and prosperity.

They believe water being poured on you will change any bad luck you have had in your past.

When Songkran first started as a religious holiday, the Thai people would visit a monk to be purified and have water poured over them.

This tradition quickly progressed so that anyone and everyone could pour water on you, therefore cleansing your soul and bringing good luck into your new year.

A giant water festival began throughout the country and has slowly started to bring in tourists from around the world.

Beware if you visit Thailand during this time, you will get wet.

Songkran In Chiang Mai

If you are coming to Thailand to celebrate the festival, you will want to celebrate Songkran in Chiang Mai.

Chiang Mai holds the largest and best spots to celebrate the festival.

Thai people come from all over the country to celebrate Songkran here. It is known as the place to be and the place that throws the best party.

If you weren’t aware, Thai people love to party and Chaing Mai is one of the best places to party in Thailand.

But you can’t celebrate the festival from just anywhere in Chiang Mai, there are certain spots that you can’t miss!

Here are the best places to celebrate the Songkran in Chiang Mai

  • East Gate
  • Thapae Gate
  • MAYA Shopping Center
  • Drive around in the back of a Truck or TukTuk (This is one of the best)
  • Anywhere around the moat
  • Nimmanhaemin Road
  • Soi Loi Khor Street

Is Songkran Kid Friendly

Not only is the festival kid-friendly, but it is also the perfect event to bring your kids to.

I like to compare it to the USA version of Halloween, except better.

This holiday was made for the kid in all of us.

Not only do the local kids come out to play, but they will be the ones chasing you down the street with their water guns.

That’s not to say there is not a ton of drinking and activities going on that you probably don’t want your kid to see, but for some reason and just works as a family event as well.

What kid doesn’t want to go to the world’s largest water fight?

Do’s And Don’ts Of Songkran in Chiang Mai

1. Do Have Fun

Songkran is a party and people come from all around the world to enjoy it. Be sure to have fun and expect to constantly be wet.

2. Carry a Decent Water Gun or Bucket

If you can bring your own water gun from back home. They will be selling loads of water guns on the streets of Thailand around this time, but they are cheap and won’t last very long… Like not even half a day.

Everyone is super friendly and will let you refill your gun pretty much anywhere. Another option to the gun is to carry a bucket of water around with you. This is a great way to soak people, but you will go through water a lot faster.

3. Keep your valuables at your hostel or hotel or in a waterproof bag.

No matter how hard you try, you will be drenched. It is better to be safe than sorry! Only bring your phone if you have a waterproof bag for it. It’s just not worth a damaged cell phone.

4. Wear a Hawaiian Shirt.

You will see everyone dressed up in them. Buy one ahead of time or buy one while you are there. But for some reason, it seems to be the attire of choice.

Another option is if you are going with a couple to come up with a theme and dress in costumes.  If this is the case you might want to bring a different one of each day, as they might not be dry when you want to put them on.

5. Wear protective eyewear and/or a mask.

You are going to have water thrown on you from all directions, and some of the water is dirty and has been known to cause pink eye.

Some people collect it from the moat or the river in town, it is not drinkable and you don’t want any getting in your mouth.  Even with a mask be sure to close your mouth.

6. Wear clothes you don’t mind leaving behind after the festival

Your clothes are going to be dirty, soaked and probably smell like a festival. Don’t wear anything nice or that you would be upset if it got ruined.

Songkran is Fun, but your clothes might not survive.

7. Don’t open your mouth

You don’t know where all the water is coming from, a lot of it will come from the moat, which is dirty!!!

8. Don’t Spray Monks, Elderly Women, and babies

These are the only people in Thailand that are off-limits, everyone else is fair game. So if you see one of them walking on the streets during the festival, give them some respect and leave them alone.

9. Don’t shoot at people’s faces

Another rule is try to avoid shooting at people’s faces, this will help keep the dirty water out of their mouths and prevent them from getting sick.

Not everyone listens to this rule though, so beaware.

10. Don’t shoot at people eating

People in restaurants or that are eating are in time-out and shouldn’t be shout at. You can however wait for them to leave the restaurant. Once they are on the sidewalk its fair game.

11. Don’t Walk around in a Bikini or without a shirt

It is a religious festival, remember to respect the locals and their culture. Be more conservative with what you wear.

Conclusions Surviving Songkran in Chaing Mai

There aren’t many rules with Songkran in Chiang Mai, which is why it makes it the best and largest water festival in the world.

Everyone comes out to have a good time and is super friendly.

Don’t be afraid to talk to the locals,  or hop in the back of someone’s truck and tag along for a water fight tour.

Songkran is all about making new friends and interacting with the locals.

Remember to enjoy it, it can get tiring after 3 days of not being able to leave your hostel or hotel and remain dry.

You will have wet clothes that won’t dry in time for you to use them again.

Unless you like putting on wet clothes, it is smart to have two outfits that you can switch between.

It is best if you want to remain dry to either stay in your hostel or hotel or get a taxi to and from where you are going.

Taxis will be prepared for Songkran and their interiors will be covered in plastic. If you are looking for activities to do in Chaing Mai check out the perfect Chaing Mai itinerary.

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