A beginner’s guide to surviving Songkran

Tourists splash water at each other as they celebrate the Songkran, a Thai New Year festival, in downtown Hat Yai, southern Thailand. Pic: AP.

SONGKRAN is more more than just a massive water fight. The holiday is a recognition of Thailand’s New Year, and the ritual of splashing water on Buddha statues and on the palms of elders is still common as a symbol of cleansing.

Songkran celebrations in many parts Thailand these days, however,  involve large-scale water festivals, or simply, adult water fights. Unless you’re in remote rural areas, or lock yourself in your hotel, you are pretty much guaranteed to get wet. Here are a few tips to help you survive the madness if going for the first time.

Do not carry valuable electronics

If you’re heading to the site of a water fight, leave the electronics at your hotel. The only thing you should be carrying with you is loose cash, which you can store in a waterproof pouch. If you absolutely must bring your camera along, make sure it’s protected with a waterproof case. Also, leave your passport and identification cards behind.

Book a driver in advance

As traffic will be at a standstill during the holiday, public transport is the most reliable option to get around. However, if you must take a taxi, make sure to book a designated driver for the day. Flagging down a taxi or booking an Uber will be an absolute nightmare. Or it could be a miracle, depending on your outcome.

Stay at the Rajin Jinda Wellness Spa Resort when in Chiang Mai for Songkran

Stay at the Rajin Jinda Wellness Spa Resort when in Chiang Mai for Songkran

Book a hotel early

Many hotels offer Songkran deals during this period but they get snagged pretty quickly. To avoid disappointment, book your hotel at least a month in advance. In Chiang Mai, where festivities go on for up to three days, hotels are usually booked to full capacity. If you’re lucky, you’ll stay at a hotel like Rajin Jinda Wellness Spa Resort, only a few kilometres away from the action.

Visit a temple

Acknowledge the true spirit of Sonkgran by visiting a temple to witness the ritual of splashing Buddha statues with fragrant water. It’s a good way to seek contemplation while escaping the boisterousness of the water fights. When in Bangkok, try some of the temples in the Rattanokosin area.

Embrace the fact

If you visit Thailand during the holiday and expect to stay dry, you’re better off holed up in your hotel room. In fact, tourists are said to be targets for locals to aim their water guns at, so if you get splashed while crossing a street or walking to the train station, your only option is to laugh it off. Annoyance may only leave you more wet.

READ MORE: Must-visit New Year water festivals in Asia