sunita at Songkran, Pattaya, Thailand

Songkran – Thai New Year – April 13th, 14th, & 15th – 2017 !!!BEWARE!!!

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Songkran – Thai New Year – April 13th, 14th, & 15th – 2017 !!!BEWARE!!!

Songkran is a multi-day water festival that begins on Thai New Year – April 13th, and usually lasts through until April 14th & 15th. Although the 13th to 15th is the norm, the water festival sometimes spans different dates and can last as long as a week in party towns such as Pattaya on the east coast (185km from Bangkok), where – if you have small children (who don’t like to walk about permanently soaked through to their underpants) then you should avoid Pattaya like the plague at this time of year. Songkran traditionally symbolises washing away the cobwebs (sins and bad luck) of yesteryear to make way for the new year. In the traditional areas, people usually kick-off Songkran by visiting their local Buddhist temple to offer alms to the monks – making merit, before the sanuk (fun) ensues.

Songkran in rural Thailand is much more sedate and nicer to experience. Even in a rural setting with children and the heat of the day though, you will still get wet, and things can get a little boisterous when the sun is high in the sky. In my experience, however – the rural setting is easier to negotiate, in the sense that it is easier to talk down a 5 year-old boy with a half-empty jug of tepid, rice-paddy water than it is to talk down a semi-drunk bargil high on yabaa and armed with a high-powered, pump-action water-rifle loaded with ice-cold water and aimed at your face.
for Pattaya hotels see here

Songkran in Pattaya can be fun but it soon wears thin and – in my opinion, you’d be better sticking to the rural areas, or in Bangkok,  if you don’t want to be walking around permanently soaking. Don’t get me wrong, having some water chucked over you when the sun is blaring down on you can be refreshing but try entering an air-conditioned mall or cinema soaked to the bones  and you won’t be long in developing the Songkran cold (especially not a good idea if travelling with children).

Songkran is a wonderful festival where young people pour water over the palms of ‘elders’ hands as a sign of respect; or where the simple act of pouring water on Buddha statues represents purification and the washing away of ones sins and bad luck. In Thailand, paying reverence to ancestors is also an important part of Songkran tradition, which all makes Songkran a festival to be experienced.

I know it is not yet April but thought I should write this post well in advance for all the would-be-wanderers of the world out there. Songkran in Thailand – like most traditional Thai/World Festivals is a great festival to experience, but Songkran has lost its way a bit, in the big tourist destinations, in particular, and like our own Christmas in the west, the message has been diluted, with commercialism and consumerism, and the presence of high-powered, ice-cold water guns.

Travel Tip – the following travel tip is a MUST
When in Thailand at Songkran time make sure that you seal electronics (phones, laptops, & cameras) in watertight bags or containers prior to hitting the streets.

for Pattaya hotels see here

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only raising dust on the road, part 1 - buckfast, lager & Fags
only raising dust on the road, part 1 – buckfast, lager & Fags

Only Raising Dust On The Road
By Raymond Carroll
A novel set in Thailand

Part 1 – ‘Buckfast, Lager, & Fags’

‘Only Raising Dust On The Road’ is a novel set in Thailand. The book has been serialised into 4 novella length books.

Part 1 – Buckfast, Lager & Fags (approx. 26,000 words), follows a group of friends from around the globe as they embark on a money-making enterprise to Thailand.

Micky, is a heavy-drinking, drug-using Scotsman who has been hired by his friend ‘Slim’ to manage a bar on a tropical island on Thailand’s eastern gulf coast. Slim’s business partners: Sanjit – a South African-born Indian, and Connie – a white, Afrikaner Durbanite and Sanjit’s girlfriend, have recruited Winston (Sanjit’s South African Indian – ‘hood-rat’ – cousin) to be bartender. Can the mismatched motley-crew make this venture work? Nothing in Thailand is ever as it seems and dangers abound along the way.

The story is told from a multiple character first person point of view and takes place in the late 1990’s.

‘Only Raising Dust On The Road’ is a work of fiction.

Lots of profanity throughout. 18+

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17 thoughts on “Songkran – Thai New Year – April 13th, 14th, & 15th – 2017 !!!BEWARE!!!”

  1. High powered cold water – water guns! Well, that is interesting! GREAT advice to protect devices with plastic bags. Yet another reason to carry zip loc baggies. We never travel without them, but this is a new reason!

  2. I hadn’t heard of Songkran until last week, and now I have read about twice. Must mean I need to participate in one! Other than the wet underwear, it sounds pretty fun. And who couldn’t use their sins and bad luck washed away?

    1. It great fun, Mel – when you participate in it – lots of sanuk (fun) to be had, for shu-ah 100%. Not so great when you enter an air-conditioned mall or cinema in your wet clothes and wet underwear and end up leaving early like a frozen snotter. Also not so great when someone knocks you off your motorbike at 30mph after getting whacked in the face with a bucket of ice-water. Songkran is good fun but you have to be careful. Every year lots of deaths. Thanks for commenting. Good luck on your travels.

  3. How funny, I’d never heard of this before! I can’t even imagine how confused and irritated I’d be if I had no idea about the festival and was just walking around minding my own business when someone out of nowhere decked me in the face with a water gun. Although, now that I know about it, it sounds like a great time …. hehe!

  4. Last Songkran I was in a small town in Lamphun province, it was a calmer Songkran, just a couple of days like you said. I’ll probably go up there again this year or maybe leave completely for the Philippines. Like you I’m not a huge fan. With your comment about sealing phones and cameras in plastic bags it made me wonder how many phones and camera get destroyed? I know the statistics on traffic accidents is ridiculous around Songkran.

  5. Such a beautiful and fun cultural aspect of the country. We have a water festival in India as well – Holi – but it lasts maximum 2-3 days except for a few regions where it does go on for a few weeks.

    I love the symbolism behind it all of washing away the sins and when done in such a fun fashion who can complain. Thanks for the tip about sealing electricals.

  6. Great tips! I had a friend that went to Thailand without knowing about this.
    I would go just for it! It looks like so much fun and experiencing other cultures is something that I am very passionate about as well.

  7. I love the idea of washing away the cobwebs! I could sure use a little of that. Yeah I think I am going to avoid Pattaya during the festival. Not sure I would want a face full of water from a high powered gun lol. I do need to get to Pattaya though to collect my last Hard Rock Cafe glass from Thailand. What can I say it’s an all consuming obsession lol

    1. Yes, Allison, cobwebs or not – there are better places in Thailand to spend Songkran than Pattaya. Btw, I’m not bashing Pattaya either. I’ve got a wee soft spot for Pattaya because I used to live there, but its mental at Songkran. Better avoided in my opinion. Thanks for commenting!

  8. April is pretty much a blackout time for me travelling to SE Asia! I’ll appreciate the festivities from afar and on Instagram only. I love the little plastic waterproof bags that you can get for a few dollars in the market places. Like you say it’s a must to have all your Hingis protected!

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