Songkran is arguably the most fun event in the Thai calendar, the week-long water fight here that ensues as part of the celebration marking the start of the Thai new year can be described as nothing less than completely crazy and the true scope of it has to be experienced firsthand to really do it justice.
The festival engulfs all of Pattaya and if the idea of being splashed with water constantly for a week solid even remotely sounds like something you would not enjoy then it’s probably best not to book a trip to Pattaya during Songkran. Whether you want to take part or not doesn’t matter you will get soaked regardless and no victims are spared it doesn’t matter if your young, old or even if you’re in a wheelchair you will get buckets of water chucked over you or blasted with water pistols.
That being said if you embrace the chaos like we have already said it can be one of the most fun experiences you will probably ever have, but to truly get the most out of it you have to be prepared, you need to have the mindset that you are going to war and need to prepare accordingly.
Here we will talk a little about how to get the best out of the whole Songkran experience as well as a few tips and things to watch out for.
Firstly and probably most importantly as we have already touched on unless you are prepared to embrace the whole experience whole heartedly don’t entertain the idea of being in Pattaya for Songkran, in fact many Expats actually leave Pattaya during the festival because they don’t wish to be a part of it.
So for those that are going to get involved the first thing to realize when we say you will get wet we mean for the entirety of your time outside of your hotel room you will be soaked the likelihood is no matter where in the city you choose to party and we will touch on later some of the best places to go, you will be soaked before you even get there, unless you’re some sort of super stealthy ninja.
The fact that you will be soaking wet all day should already tell you that your attire needs to be pretty much swimwear, or light clothing something that won’t become heavy once it gets wet, also leave your designer gear at home this festival is very hard on your attire and you will only end up ruining expensive clothes.
In recent years smartphones have become waterproof but if your phone isn’t then you have two options, leave your phone in the room or buy one of the waterproof phone holders that can be hung round your neck. These will be being sold at every 7-11, family mart and pretty much all street vendors will be trying to sell them and they are well worth buying.
*Top-tip: Make sure when wearing them you keep them under your shirt, crime happens everywhere in the world Pattaya is no exception, so don’t advertise your belongings to thieves.*
These phone cases also provide a good place to put your money unless you want to be handing over soaking wet bank notes which is a right pain for both you and the bar.
Right so your phone and money are now safe and dry before you go to war a very important thing to make sure is that you are wearing appropriate footwear. Due to the sheer volume of water being thrown and blasted around and not just outside but inside of bars as well the floors get very slippery, especially where there are tiles so you need to choose your footwear very carefully.
*Top-tip: Pick shoes which are lightweight and provide maximum grip.*
While the whole experience is incredibly fun a lot of accidents happen as a result of trips and slips and the last thing you want ruining your experience is a trip to the accident room.
Ok so your attire is sorted now let’s talk about weaponry there will be water pistols on sale everywhere from about a week prior to the start of the festival and the type of weapon you go with is very important and depends largely on what your plan is.
If you plan to roam the city then you’re best off with one of the less powerful guns that has a larger tank where you won’t have to fill up as often allowing you to roam as freely as possible.
*Top-tip: If you’re planning on roaming invest in one of the water pistols that come with a backpack tank for maximum water capacity.*
If your plan is to go to war in a bar or fixed location then you can go for a water pistol that has a smaller tank but is more powerful. If you’re taking part in a bar as long as you buy a drink all bars will have somewhere where you can reload.
In recent years several water pistol types have been band especially the long tube looking “sticks.” However you will probably see vendors still selling them but just be aware you probably will have them confiscated if the police see you with one.
Let’s talk about a few locations:
Now in our opinion the way to have the most fun is to pick a narrow street with bars on opposite sides and fight it out with people in the other bars opposite and to the left and right. This has the added advantage that you will be partying with a load of soaking wet girls from the bars as well. One of the best locations to do this is Soi 6 and with roughly 70 bars you can bar hop and truly get the whole songkran experience as well as having a readily available supply of ammo the whole time providing you buy the odd drink.
Soi 7 is also another good place to go to war the large number of outside beer bars make for a good location to fight it out. Pandora is one of the most popular choices and is well publicized online as the go to place to go, however due to its popularity lots of people do go there and it makes getting a drink a little difficult sometimes.
There are a large amount of similar bars all around it though making it a great location to party.
Now each night the police to go round and stop all the water fighting but Soi 7 is usually the last place to get closed down so for those wanting to fight for as long as possible heading to Soi 7 towards the end of the day should provide you with the maximum amount of time at war.
*Top-tip: If you see the police closing things down do not squirt or chuck water over them, you will get arrested or at very least a hefty fine.*
For those who want to go roaming the best place is along Pattaya Beach Road. On the main days of the festival they close the road and the whole stretch becomes one big party with stages, music and water cannons. Outside of the Hard Rock hotel they normally set up a load of entertainment so making your way along the beach from either end to the Hard Rock is a solid strategy.
For those who find themselves in Pattaya during Songkran that don’t want to take part best to buy one of the thin full body rainmac that you see bike riders wear when it’s raining, even these probably won’t stop you from getting wet but it might help a little. Also avoid any busy area with bars because even the smallest bars will be celebrating Songkran and they won’t hesitate to splash anything that moves.
These are just a few tips and tricks to get the most out of Songkran but really the best way is to get involved and see what an amazing spectacle it is for yourself. Most importantly is to be safe while the whole experience is incredibly fun it’s easy to get carried away and forget your surroundings be extra vigilant if your near traffic and always try to be aware of the surface you’re on as we already said a lot of holidays are ruined during this time to trips to the accident room.
As always we hope you have a safe and enjoyable time no matter what you get up to whilst here in Pattaya.