Songkran in Bangkok: Tips for Celebrating the Thai New Year
Your Guide to Celebrating Songkran in Bangkok
Planning to celebrate Songkran in Bangkok? Learn when Songkran starts, when to arrive for Songkran in Bangkok, plus what to wear and Thai New Year etiquette.
What is Songkran Like?
Songkran is super fun to celebrate! People quite literally run around the streets of Bangkok using squirt guns to soak strangers and throwing cups of water on each other. No one can hide!
Bangkok is where you will see the most activity, but remember that Songkran is celebrated all around Thailand.
Songkran is a beautifully chaotic time to be in Thailand. Bangkok specifically is an amazing place to celebrate the Thai New Year since so many people flock to the city for the playful festivities.
Many tourists who are traveling Southeast Asia plan to be in Bangkok for Songkran because the large-scale celebrations are like being in another world! Songkran in Bangkok is definitely an experience worth planning for. Get ready to get soaked, and don’t always expect warm water!
Very often, people will come out of nowhere, soak you and run away. You can’t help but giggle like children. It really brings out the youth within everyone.
Groups of friends pass each other on the street and get into little water gun fights while local children dance with water hoses in their hands. Songkran is amazing and the best time to visit Bangkok!
When Does Songkran Start?
Songkran begins on April 13th each year and the holiday ends two days later on April 15th.
Locals and tourists alike will likely start throwing water in the streets on April 12th, the night before Songkran officially begins. After sundown on the 15th, most water-throwing activities will end.
I celebrated Songkran in Bangkok in 2019. While walking around on the night of April 12th, I was suddenly surrounded by groups of tourists with water guns. You can only guess what happened next!
I was so surprised since I thought everything would start the next day! Everyone is eager to celebrate, so plan in advance.
Where in Bangkok is Songkran Held?
The best part about Songkran festivities in Bangkok is that they take place everywhere! Pockets of locals celebrate in the streets all throughout the city. Usually you won’t have to go far to find some wild Songkran action.
Groups of families and friends will set up hangouts in random areas on a sidewalk where they have access to a source of water. They will bring speakers to play music and hang out all day. Others will join their water-throwing party to take part in the fun of dousing everyone passing by.
Khao San Road, the famous backpacker street in Bangkok, turns into a giant water fight party every night during Songkran! I definitely recommend booking a hostel near Khao San Road for an exciting Songkran experience.
Tables on the street are removed and a large area for dancing is constructed. Don’t expect to go out for dinner or drinks in this area of town unless you are prepared to get soaked!
Where to Buy Water Guns for Songkran in Bangkok
You will find many roadside stands selling water guns all over the city. Each day they become cheaper as vendors become more and more eager to sell whatever they have left.
Prior to Songkran, you will probably be charged 400 to 500 Thai Baht. Midway through the festivities, you can probably find a water gun for 250 to 300 Baht.
Plastic cell phone necklace cases are definitely a wise idea It’s better to keep your money and phone dry. They are cheap and convenient.
You may be wondering where you will find water while you’re out in the street. Don’t worry, it will be easy. Many shops put out blow-up pools and fill them with tap water for everyone to use.
Some beer stands will also give you some ice-cold water from their coolers if you buy a beer. The reactions you get from squirting cold water are priceless.
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Etiquette for the Songkran Celebration
Firstly, make sure you understand what the Songkran festival is all about. While getting wet and surprising people with squirts of water is fun, there is deep meaning in these playful activities that everyone should be familiar with.
Make sure to understand the meaning of Songkran before you decide to celebrate it.
Be aware that it is not appropriate to take off your shirt after getting wet. Everyone keeps whatever clothes they are wearing on the entire time. Walking around in a bikini or without a shirt would be considered disrespectful.
What to Wear During Songkran Water Fights
It is best to wear non-absorbent clothing during Songkran to be more comfortable. For men, bathing suit shorts, flip flops and a nylon/polyester tank top is perfect. The non-absorbent material will be much more comfortable than heavy water-soaked cotton.
The weather is warm during Songkran in Bangkok. You won’t need any jackets or outerwear. Even walking though the streets completely soaked, I did not feel the least bit cold. In fact, it’s quite refreshing.
If you cannot afford to get wet for any specific reason, make sure to travel by taxi (and keep the windows closed). Locals love to surprise unsuspecting tuk-tuk passengers with buckets of water. It happened to me!
More Tips for Songkran in Bangkok
Remember that the water used in other people’s water guns may not be potable. People get water from many different sources, and so you should never get any of that water in your mouth. Most of it should be fine, but it best to avoid any potential contact with harmful bacteria.
Want to play a mean trick on your friends or someone in the street? Ice-cold water is your best friend. I couldn’t stop laughing at people’s reactions when I squirted them with shockingly cold water. I grabbed some from a stand on the street where I bought a Chang beer.
Above all, be respectful during this special celebration. Don’t squirt water at people who are in a restaurant, eating in the street or trying to purchase something at a street stand.
Additionally, I personally would not throw water at anyone that is dressed in business clothes. It would be unfortunate to ruin something important that they are doing. As for everyone else? Fair game.