Monday, April 10, 2006


If you are lucky enough to arrive into Thailand during the middle of April then chances are that your first experience of the countries’ famous smile will be on mischievous locals waiting by the side of the street with barrels full of water, many large buckets and huge water guns primed and ready to fire. “Sabai-Dee-Pi-Mai!!” they will shout as several of the filled buckets get thrown at your (hopefully closed) car windows- No this is not an unusual welcoming for tourists, this is Thai New Year!!..

Just as the temperature gets to its stifling peak and prior to the onset of the rainy season monsoon, Thailand and the other Buddhist Therevada countries such as Laos, Cambodia and Burma celebrate the Songkran festival. Today this festival is a period for people to return to their home towns, taking part in massive water fights and generally letting their hair down and having a great time. So how did this craziness all start? and how best to experience it?

Traditionally the Songkran festival originated as the lustration ceremony, in which Buddha images from the temples are cleaned. In many cities, the Buddha statues are paraded through the streets, so that the townsfolk can throw water onto them as they pass. Another important custom at this time is that young people pour small amounts of lustral water onto the hands of their elders. People also carry handfuls of sand to their temple (to make up for the dirt that they take away on their feet throughout the year) this sand is then made into large sand castles and decorated- In general, Songkran is a time for cleaning and renewal and many Thais take this opportunity to give their home a thorough cleaning.

Tip 1: Have fun. Don’t take it seriously, get in there, get wet and have a great time! If you don’t like water enough to be walking around constantly damp all day and all evening then consider either changing your travel plans or purchasing a drysuit- no one is safe during Songkran, don’t think that disguising yourself as a Policeman or even Palace Guard will help as authority figures are certain targets for a drenching.

Tip 2: Motorbikes. It is strongly recommended to avoid high speed (plus 10km/hour) travel by motorcycle during Songkran as even if you think that throwing a bucket full of water at a rider on the Highway is madness it is quite possible that those laughing kids in the pickup truck ahead will not. Over three days during Songkran in 2005, over 500 people died and most where involved with motorcycle accidents so our suggestion is to stick to four wheels or better still two legs (its easier to duck or run away also!)

Tip 3: Firepower. There is always someone with a bigger weapon than you at Songkran, don’t think that your SuperSoaker5000 will be any match for the guys draining the river dry with a 6 inch water pump. Having said that from our personal experience don’t expect any mercy if you find yourself unarmed, alone, freezing cold and with a water damaged mobile phone on which to call in reinforcements so make sure you have some emergency water balloons or a bottle of ice water handy for such occasions. (Image from

Tip 4: Sunburn: Make sure you keep your self well protected from the sun, all the water getting thrown about may keep you cool and make you forget about the beating rays but when you get back to the safety of your lodging you will notice that you have become as red and sore as a boiled lobster.


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Makes Easter eggs sound rather tame! Glad you made it back in time xxx

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