How to Prepare for Songkran Festival in Chiang Mai
The Songkran festival occurs every year from April 13th to 15th the festival is in celebration of the Thai New year on April 13th. The festivities include a massive 3 day+ water fight meant to cleanse you for the coming year. The largest celebration is held in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Book your Accommodations (And get there early)
If possible you should book your accommodations well in advance. You will likely always be able to find somewhere to stay the price and quality will be questionable. The Songkran festival is the busiest time in Chiang Mai for tourism so planning is a great idea. It is worth noting many places bump up their prices during Songkran to more than double their usual rate. So expect to pay a premium. You should also arrive on or preferably before the 12th of April before things get too crazy. You don’t want to risk all your bags getting completely soaked.
Arm up- Get your guns
Don’t worry about bringing water guns with you. There is a large selection available from many vendors throughout Chiang Mai. The guns range drastically in price from 50baht (a useless mini squirt gun) to 1000baht for a massive 5500 series water gun with a huge range and crazy strong stream. We opted for the in between models; me chicken water gun and Chris a 1500 model with quite a good range. One note on the water guns, they are not exactly high quality; treat them carefully or they will break, we saw many abandoned broken guns on the streets.
Ensure you protect yourself by wearing big sunglasses or buy safety glasses. With people shooting you from all directions it is hard to ensure water does not get sprayed directly into your eyes. While I hope that this is no one’s goal, the one and only occasion I took my sunglasses off for a few minutes a kid shot me directly in the eye with a high powered gun. Let me tell you temporary blindness in a water fight is not what you want. Safety first, gets yourself some eye protection. If you don’t have big sunglasses no worries, they sell Songkran safety glasses, they come in assorted colors and even have an added side eye protection piece. You might also want ear plugs because we both got hit right in the ear a few times as well and those buckets have a tendency to end up in your ear as well.
Keeping your essentials dry & safe
No doubt you will need to bring some essentials with you during Songkran. Definitely some money, waterproof sunscreen, and ID (The Thai government actually requires you by law to carry your passport at all times. We recommend you bring a photocopy with you). Shops and street vendors will be selling waterproof bags and little cell phone cases everywhere. Pick one up that is large enough to store everything you plan on bringing.
We ended up just using some ziplock baggies from home and my awesome travel companion shirt. I loved not having an extra bag to worry about plus everything is much safer zipped inside my shirt than the flimsy waterproof bags which can easy be broken into/stolen.
Be prepared to get soaked
The last thing is to be prepared to get not wet but soaked. I was not prepared for a number of water buckets being dumped on people. It is great fun but it is worth knowing you will be completely soaked all day. Dress accordingly, quick-drying clothes that don’t retain a lot of water are best. Also be aware of how those clothes feel when wet. The last thing you want is terrible chafing all day.
Are you ready for Songkran? How did you prepare yourself? Have you been to Songkran? Let us know in the comments below!