Songkran (Water) Festival, Bangkok

Also known as the Thai New Year, falling on the 13-15th of April every year, is a festival similar with Chinese New Year in a lot of ways.

praying and pouring water - songkran

Balik kampong (back to hometown), visiting and paying respect to the elderly, visit temples to serve food to monks and pray for a better year and rid of previous year’s bad behaviour.

elephant god

Some even travel out of the country for holidays.

But as most of you would have already known, Songkran is famous for it’s splashing of water on anyone that comes by your way on streets of the city, hence its alternate English name – Water Festival.

two boys in siam paragon water splash

The tradition of pouring water over someone’s shoulder or hand becomes a gesture of paying respect to others, but because Songkran is set in the hottest time of the year at the end of the dry season, throwing water at people also helps to cool temperature down.

water fest in front of siam paragon
A water fest held in front of Siam Paragon

So yes, if someone splashes water at you, remember to say “thank you” (in thai: “khawp khun ka”, or “kap” for guys).

Therefore if you walk out onto the street, do not childishly think you can head out for a short stroll (by short I mean 50 steps from your hotel) without getting wet.

Now, things have evolved. With technology, tradition improvised.

We use water guns.

girl with water gun at water festival bangkok

Faster, further, harder.

Bigger, better.

It can hit you anytime anywhere from any direction. You can turn a corner of a street and expect 10 water guns all directing at you and next thing you know you’ll be drenched.

Zen, 26 year old hot blooded Bangkok male (he asked me to write this), Nicolekiss reader from Bangkok whom I met on my second night in Bangkok, suggested a trip to Sala Daeng street for the Songkran.

zenhao from bangkok
Handsome chap isn’t he? Very sweet guy, he offered to show me around Bangkok and its night scene. We visited SkyBar. :D

Since Zen wasn’t in town that night, I have no choice but to head out to experience Songkran on my own. Not knowing what to expect, I prepared some water bottles filled with tap water and went out.

water bottles

Catching the BTS (skytrain) alone, I spotted some really wet Thai dudes stood casually nearby like it’s the most normal thing to stand in a train in fully wet clothes holding water guns.

skytrain and wet people

As the train pulled into Siam station, I made my switch to the line heading towards Sala Daeng, and realised I wasn’t the only one. The group of wet guys earlier was heading the same way, joined by another wet group, and another, and another.

By the time I got onto my second train, the cabin was packed with groups of wet Thai people, some older wet “farangs” and other dry and nicely dressed passengers who seems to be quivering at one side.

“Next stop, Sala Daeng~~~~”, the speaker announced.

Everyone fled the train.

wet sky bridge

The moment I got onto the platform, I heard distant shrieking and screaming and yelling and a whole combination of noise from the station.

I ran to the side of the station to a view of this!

water festival crowd in bangkok

And this!

below sala daeng station during songkran

Holy Mother of Sweet Jesus’ Mary!!!

It’s a wet flesh war down there!!!

people hiding on the bridge in sala daeng
People hiding on the bridge

I kinda underestimated the term “Water FESTIVAL”.

No kiddin.

Suddenly my water bottles don’t look so threatening anymore. T_T

selling water guns
Water guns sold nearby, ermmmm…

Now one thing about Songkran that most non-thai people don’t know is that Songkran is more than just water.

Oh no, it’s a whole lot of more than water.

We have powders too.

powder for sale at songkran

So I decided to get these instead.

Mix with waters and hence it becomes a white mud paste which you can splat/rub/squash onto someone’s face.

powder and water for water fest
10 baht for the bowl and one packet of powder, each packet of powder cost 5 baht.
(For water is 5 baht per bottle, don't pay for more than that, go for the ice cold one. :D)

The correct and “polite” reaction to someone’s action to rub this paste (gently or aggressively) onto your face (they will enquire a “please” (or not) first) is to nod your head, stretch your cheek (left or right is completely up to your preference) out and let them chafe as little or as much paste on your face.

Remember, always say “thank you”.

By the time I got from the bridge to the other end of the bridge at the end of the row of shops (give this 70 steps), I was soaking right through my undies, with paste all over my hair.

initial stage of getting wet

By the time I reached the next station half a km away.

I was looking ghastly.

me with powder paste all over

Some of the perks I experienced during this Songkran have to be being splashed (or worse, poured over) by icy cold water, being rubbed extremely minty toothpaste mix powder paste onto your face that can sting tears right out of your eyes, shoot at everyone including the police on the street, rub white dirt over a spotlessly clean Mercedes that drove pass, shoot water guns on a passenger on a tuk-tuk next to you as you tour bangkok.

Or the more extreme,

Rent a truck with some friends with a huge pale filled of ice and water and hose-splashed the crowd while the truck drive through the street.

I was victim to all of the above. Sigh~

My face became so pasty that I was forced to wash my face in the middle of the street with my own water because the paste was caking a thick layer of mask on my face and it was blocking my sight.

a wet nicole at water festival

5 minutes later. I was looking like this again.

me at songkran festival

Seriously, I have never have SO MANY HANDS touching my face SO MANY TIMES in one single night (or in two hours) I felt like my cheeks were skin raped, especially my left cheek.

Almost every single major streets were closed to traffic to this festival, from the East Sukhumvit, to the South Sala Daeng, to the West Khao San Road; music booming everywhere, it’s like a gargantuous street music party all over Bangkok.

The best thing about a street party is that you can just head to your local 24 hour mini-market to buy cheap booze for the price of 55 baht (RM5.5 or USD 1.8), that’s how I got my Bacardi Breezer for the night, which would cost 150 baht easily in a bar.

7-11 at phat phong street bangkok
A crowd in front of 7-11 at Phat Phong Street.

Shawn, another Nicolekiss reader from Kuching who happened to be on a break in Bangkok, joined me later after midnight and we wrestled the crowd with every ounch of our strength.

me and shawn wet during songkran

I love Songkran.

Ps// going to celebrate songkran tonight again in Chiang Mai. Woo hoo, two places in a row!


17 kissed Nicole

  1. Hmm... so much fun. By the way, you look like a very delicious pan mee. Slurp, slurp.

    Got a nice place to introduce.

  2. woohoo DragonBall T-shirt i like it

  3. Looks like you'd a fun time... A perfectly legitimate reason to get the girls wet! =P

  4. Err... is Zen still single?
    Ahahaha.. lols!

    cheers dear :)

  5. ermmm...poor zen. i'm sure he didn't see it coming. He must have cut 2 holes in a brown paper bag and has slip it over his head ever since this post.

    OMG!!! i think he wants to revenge!!!


  6. u shd hav wore bikini as ur undies during this water festival, ezly washed n dried, n ur inner skin wont soaked in d sponge.. hehe~~
    anyway, hav fun in chiang mai..

  7. ahahah...dragon ball fusion!!! fooooooo~!

  8. cool!!!! pretty hot April month la...

  9. songkran definately sounds and looks like fun! :D u made me wanna go to thai just for their songkran festival. lol!

  10. Wah, songkran is like really fun. Definitely a wild place to be in. I would like to try going there one day.

  11. Great that you have so much fun! :) But take good care of your health as you just recovered!

  12. To say 'thank you' in Thai, it is pronounced as 'khob khun Kaa' for girls and 'khob khun Krab' for guys instead. Anyway, 'Chokdee Krab' for your trip!

  13. Darn... I wanna go to Bangkok!!!

    I've been to Europe, but have never been to Bangkok, what a shame... haih....

  14. How I wish I'm in Thailand right now!!Hehe...

  15. haih.. how i wish i can travel around like u..

  16. Have fun there Nicole~~

  17. wicked, looked through loads of your pics, sounds like you're having the time of your life, I can only imaine it. Sounds wicked, hope you are and still are having a wicked time, think of me at school when you are out having fun :)

    Have fun!