What nobody tells you about Songkran in Chiang Mai (Huge Water Fight)

Songkran is a blast.  Who wouldn’t love a 3-day epic water fight?  We choose like many other tourists to make our way up the Chiang Mai to be at the heart of the action.  There were, however, some things we learned along the way that didn’ come up in our research.

Songkran Festival Chiang Mai

Many Businesses and Restaurants Close for the Holidays

If you are in Chiang Mai during Songkran you will find most businesses are closed during the celebration which also means finding an open restaurant can sometimes be more challenging.  Don’t worry some do still stay open but your selection will not be as great during Songkran (Some businesses stay closed until the 19th or later).

The Water is Ice Cold and Dirty

Most Thai’s fill their buckets with dirty moat water and huge chunks of ice which means they will spray you with ice-cold dirty water.  While it is refreshing the first time, the ice water is sometimes so cold you may get brain freeze.  I liked to warm up with a tap water bucket over the head.   The water is nearly never clean and may stain white or light clothes.

Songkran Festival Chiang Mai

Hotels Raise their Prices

As Songkran is an incredibly popular tourist attraction in Chiang Mai every year.  Hotels and Guesthouses alike tend to jack up the prices around Songkran.  Our hotel cost us $15 to $44 Cad for the exact same room depending on the day.  Expect to pay a premium.

The First Day, the 13th is the Best Day

Songkran Festival Chiang Mai

The first day of Songkran is by far the most participated day.  It is the actual Thai new years a day.  It was our favourite as it had the most energy going and the most people.  Everywhere we went there were people ready to ambush you with icy cold buckets or mobs of people attacking tuk-tuk passengers as they went by.  Bring your go pro’s and action cams out this day for the best footage.

Nowhere is Safe

If you are not interested in a huge water fight then you should probably stay out of Chiang Mai and even Thailand for that matter during Songkran.  Literally nowhere is safe (to stay dry) during the day but your hotel room or another country.   When riding in tuk-tuks or jeepneys be prepared to get the worst of it.  Most drivers offer a bucket to fill up your guns with but when they stop people from the streets are relentless with their attacks.

Songkran Festival Chiang Mai

Many Roads are Closed for Songkran

Since the water fight takes place in the streets there are many roads through Chiang Mai that are closed or you simply cannot pass through because there are so many people on them.  If you need to get somewhere plan for delays and definitely take a car or you will get completely soaked in a tuk-tuk or jeepney.

Tuk Tuk’s and Jeepneys get Attacked

Songkran Festival Chiang Mai

Tuk Tuk and Jeepney passengers seem to get the worst of the water fight as nearly everyone they pass will either spray they with a water gun or throw a bucket.  If the tuk-tuk or jeepney has to stop for any reason be prepared to be bombarded by water.  Seriously they won’t let up until you are out of reach.  I would therefore not recommend this mode of transport unless you want to get completely attacked.  We saw many people actually get out of the tuk-tuks and walk because they were being attacked so much.

Songkran Festival Chiang Mai

Do you wish there was a festival like Songkran in your town?  Would you like to participate?  Which unknown fact surprised you the most?  Let us know in the comments below.

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