Want to know the best time to go Backpacking in Thailand? Imagine soaking you and your friends with water and flour in a haze of lunacy?! It isn’t something you see out there every day, but part of what you see in Songkran. The epic Thai waterfight festival that happens every April. This is just one of the many lighthearted events you will find there. It is a place where you can relax, smile, and just enjoy the moment. This type of water fight is an annual tradition, and the winner is he or she who ultimately ends up being the wettest. Any of this make sense yet?
Did we mention this often contains a lot of drinking too? (Don’t shoot the messenger – it’s like any festival – grab a beer and celebrate!) Of course you can’t pass out from drinking too many beers and be the winner so you have to keep that in check too! This event is part of the time when the Thais are celebrating the New Year. The entire foundation of Songkran is to cleanse the mind and body and to go through a rebirth process. The dates used to change on the calendar until the 1800s. That is when the dates of April 13th to April 15th became the fixed times for the very fun celebration.
The 14th is the day when attending temple to cleanse the body and the mind takes place. The water is used as a manner of showing respect to the elderly. It also is used as a symbolistic element of the cleansing process. Celebrations in the ancient times included the youth bathing the priests and the elders in the water. Taking part in this cleansing ritual is often done as part of the traditions relating to Songkran. Only then due they feel justified to take part in the water fight including flour, which is a more modern tradition.
There is plenty of preparing that goes into this particular event. People around the country start stocking up on supplies. This includes super soakers and water balloons. There’s often very strategic (and very friendly) refill stations where they can have access to additional supplies during the event. The three days is full of people, laughter, and partying. This includes the locals and tourists who want to have some fun times and drink beer as they do so.
The biggest and rowdiest areas holding the event are in both Chiang Mai and Bangkok. Travelers that are backpacking Thailand often come to find this out one way or another. Both celebrations aren’t the same size but they can still be very fun and enjoyable. Beyond Chang Mai and Bangkok, just about every single Thai town in this country is doing something during this three day time span. Don’t overlook the fact that it is very hot in Thailand this time of year and that water can play a major role in a fresh way to cool down. Thais and travelers alike love being able to cool down and enjoy the water during these hot times.
As I write this, I am getting ready to attend this event myself with a Lost Beaches Travel crew. As our travel group is backpacking through Thailand we’ve had an amazing opportunity to check out the sites and sound of Songkran. I have been to Songkran in the past with friends and spent time around Khao San Road. I have also spent time around Bangkok where they host a three day festival. The streets are closed to vehicles; there are vendors everywhere, and more than 100,000 people taking part in the festivities.
Be ready to loosen up with the fun and games! You will find people of all ages out there spraying water and tossing flour at each other. Show up ready to enjoy the water fight all day and into the late night. The streets will be closed and there will be vendors, music, and dancing. It is an amazing experience that you will never forget! There’s tons of more information on Thailand Backpacking here. Check out some information on Songkran here.