A Wet & Wild Songkran in Chiang Mai

Water buckets, ice and super soakers.. sawasdee pi mai from Chiang Mai.

As far as festivals go, we’ve only attended one this year to compare, but I dare say Songkran in Thailand would rank as one of the best in the world.

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The Songkran festival is celebrated in Thailand as the traditional New Year’s day from April 13th – 15th. Thais celebrate Songkran by throwing water at one another with water guns, buckets and hoses. Sounds fun, right?

In Chiang Mai, it’s notorious for starting the festivities early and continuing on for up to five days. It doesn’t hurt to have an endless supply of a dirty moat water surrounding the city walls.

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In preparation for Songkran, choose your weapon wisely. A water gun or super soaker is the most common choice and can allow you to carry on a long water war. A water stick is perfect for quick, sharp shots – great for short range but the battle is short lived.

If you want to do some serious damage, a bucket is by far your best bet. Your attacks can be quick and fast and you’re able to reload just ask fast as you dump or toss water on your opponents.

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Whichever weapon you choose, there is no shortage of water sources. Restaurants and street vendors put water containers in their store front constantly filled with water – some even with ice! Burr..

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It’s best to post yourself either near water containers or along the moat where water is readily available. Just don’t get too close to the moat or you might get pushed in. Lucky for me, I didn’t get moat belly the next day but still very much traumatized by the whole ordeal.

If you choose to travel by songthaew (shared taxi) or tuk tuk around the moat during Songkran, you’re singling yourself out as a moving target and hell will have no mercy on your soul.

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And by hell I mean Gerard. He spent nearly 15 minutes hosing down this one tuk-tuk with Japanese tourists. Even knocked a Chang beer right out of the guy’s hand. LOL

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The East Gate or Tha Pae Gate is where most of the action is and where you want to be. There are heaps of music stages set up along the moat including Water Wars, Coca Cola’s foam party and more with International DJs from around the world.

Police may be off limits, but no one said anything about the SWAT Team!

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Apparently things got a bit out of control in years past so alcohol is (somewhat) regulated. It’s best to either pre-party in your guesthouse or BYO undercover B.

Of course it’s never fun to drink alone (well, maybe sometimes). But better to make new friends during Songkran than enemies I tell you. We had family from home, friends who flew in from Vietnam and made new friends with folks from our guesthouse.

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If you make friends with the locals, they might just spare you a bucket of chilling ice water down your back and let you ride on their truck where you too can be a moving target!

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So.. think you have a pretty good idea what Songkran is? If you’re still unsure, check out our video below. But please, don’t let us convince you how insanely awesome this festival is. 😉

We’ve had our fair share of festivals from around the world and even celebrated Holi in India this past March. Most of you already know how that went for me. This was a completely different experience.

Songkran is the greatest festival ever! It’s the perfect excuse to be a kid no matter what age you are. I’ve never had such a positive experience from beginning to end (no boob grabbing, yay!). Everyone is genuinely happy even if they are shooting at my face and in my ear. Which by they way, left me ringing for days I thought I needed to go to the Doctor. Cleared up in the end though, phew.

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You Should Know
  • In Chiang Mai, water throwing can start as early as the day before Songkran and last for five days.
  • Purchase your weapons early. You can expect to pay anywhere from $250- $500BHT for a super soaker gun. $150BHT for a water stick.
  • Protect your eyes especially if you wear contact lens. Sunglasses or goggles, as goofy as they look, will give some protection when you’re being shot in the face with water.
  • Bars and restaurants stop serving alcohol between 2 – 5pm.
  • Be prepared if you need to go potty, most restaurants charge $5BHT to use the restroom if you are not a patron.
  • If you want a break from the water festivities, other attractions in Chiang Mai are still open such as Tiger Kingdom and Baan Chang Elephant Park. Go early morning to avoid getting wet but be prepared to get drenched on your way back in to town.
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Would you “Like” to add Songkran in Thailand to your bucket list?



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  • http://wanderlustandlipstick.com/blogs/genywanderer/ Alana – Gen Y Wanderer

    Loooove your video! I live in Chiang Mai and was too scared to have my camera out for more than just a quick shot — thank you for capturing it 🙂

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Kieu – GQ trippin

      Thank you! We used our underwater case from snorkeling and it worked out fine. A bit spotty here and there – I kept getting shot at. LOL

  • http://wanderlustandlipstick.com/blogs/genywanderer/ Alana – Gen Y Wanderer

    Loooove your video! I live in Chiang Mai and was too scared to have my camera out for more than just a quick shot — thank you for capturing it 🙂

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Thank you! We used our underwater case from snorkeling and it worked out fine. A bit spotty here and there – I kept getting shot at. LOL

  • http://www.MyBeautifulAdventures.com/ Andi Perullo

    Seriously looks like the most fun a person could have!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Kieu – GQ trippin

      Seriously! Gerard was like a kid running around with his water gun. And it went on for 3 days!!!! Haha

  • http://www.MyBeautifulAdventures.com/ Andi Perullo de Ledesma

    Seriously looks like the most fun a person could have!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Seriously! Gerard was like a kid running around with his water gun. And it went on for 3 days!!!! Haha

  • Anonymous

    Fun!! Are there any “safe” zones at all?!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Kieu – GQ trippin

      LOL, in your hotel room? They say after 8 is safe to go out but I still got shot at until late at night.

  • Caro_PassportandaToothbrush

    Fun!! Are there any “safe” zones at all?!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      LOL, in your hotel room? They say after 8 is safe to go out but I still got shot at until late at night.

  • http://twitter.com/thatbackpacker Audrey Bergner

    Looks like an absolute blast you guys! Good to know about the ice floating in the buckets, haha! 😀

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Kieu – GQ trippin

      Mannn.. getting bucketed with ice is brutal. Haha

  • Audrey

    Looks like an absolute blast you guys! Good to know about the ice floating in the buckets, haha! 😀

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Mannn.. getting bucketed with ice is brutal. Haha

  • http://technosyncratic.com Technosyncratic

    “Hell will have no mercy on your soul…. and by hell I mean Gerard.”

    Bwahahaha! He does look sort of diabolical carrying that water gun around… =P

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Kieu – GQ trippin

      =P He was quite evil with the gun. Kept sneaking up on that tuk tuk. Haha

  • http://technosyncratic.com Technosyncratic

    “Hell will have no mercy on your soul…. and by hell I mean Gerard.”

    Bwahahaha! He does look sort of diabolical carrying that water gun around… =P

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      =P He was quite evil with the gun. Kept sneaking up on that tuk tuk. Haha

  • http://twitter.com/freakytravel Jeremy

    This is AWESOME! Soooooo wish I coulda been there! And great video–looks like you guys are enjoying your trip! Keep living the dream!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Kieu – GQ trippin

      Thanks Jeremy! Glad you’re home with the fam bam. =)

  • http://www.travelfreak.net/ Jeremy Foster

    This is AWESOME! Soooooo wish I coulda been there! And great video–looks like you guys are enjoying your trip! Keep living the dream!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      Thanks Jeremy! Glad you’re home with the fam bam. =)

  • https://twitter.com/#!/30HomeGames 30HomeGames

    Looks like a lot of fun. I wonder how many travelers went there just for these festivities and how many happily stumbled on the right dates?

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Kieu – GQ trippin

      We did meet one lady on the plane over who had no knowledge of Songkran. Gerard laughed and said you’re in for a big surprise! LOL

  • http://30homegames.blogspot.com.au/p/blog-page.html 30HomeGames

    Looks like a lot of fun. I wonder how many travelers went there just for these festivities and how many happily stumbled on the right dates?

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      We did meet one lady on the plane over who had no knowledge of Songkran. Gerard laughed and said you’re in for a big surprise! LOL

  • http://www.baconismagic.ca/ Ayngelina

    Great photos, it looks like so much fun.

  • http://www.baconismagic.ca/ Ayngelina

    Great photos, it looks like so much fun.

  • http://www.aswetravel.com/ Sofia – As We Travel Blog

    We’ve JUST missed it two years in a row, it sounds like so much fun!! Hopefully next year I’ll get to be there 😉

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Kieu – GQ trippin

      o you guys should definitely attend next year. It’s ridiculously loads of fun!

  • http://www.aswetravel.com/ Sofia – As We Travel

    We’ve JUST missed it two years in a row, it sounds like so much fun!! Hopefully next year I’ll get to be there 😉

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      o you guys should definitely attend next year. It’s ridiculously loads of fun!

  • http://www.atravelbroad.com/ Kae Lani | A Travel Broad

    Haha! I think it’s the SWAT team that gets me in this post. What an awesome event!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Kieu – GQ trippin

      LOL me too! I wasn’t sure at first but when I saw one of them with a water gun, I knew it was fair game. 😉

  • http://www.atravelbroad.com/ Kae Lani | A Travel Broad

    Haha! I think it’s the SWAT team that gets me in this post. What an awesome event!

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com/ Kieu – GQ trippin

      LOL me too! I wasn’t sure at first but when I saw one of them with a water gun, I knew it was fair game. 😉

  • http://www.scenewithahart.com/ Fidel

    Awesome action shots! Love seeing this type of post. Nothing but fun. You two are definitely having an adventure and doing every thing you planned.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Gerard ~ GQtrippin

      Thanks Fidel! Your guide definitely came in handy!

  • http://www.scenewithahart.com/ Fidel

    Awesome action shots! Love seeing this type of post. Nothing but fun. You two are definitely having an adventure and doing every thing you planned.

    • http://www.GQtrippin.com Gerard ~ GQtrippin

      Thanks Fidel! Your guide definitely came in handy!

  • http://franklyn.me/ franklyn

    wow. soo fun. 🙂

  • http://franklyn.me/ franklyn

    wow. soo fun. 🙂

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