What is Songkran? – on the Pattaya scene
Songkran is the traditional Thai New Year, held in April marked by the throwing and sprinkling of water. Nationally celebrated between the 13th and 15th of April this festival has become very popular with international tourists, particularly in Pattaya. Most of the population of Pattaya are migrant workers from other parts of Thailand and it is usual for Thais to go to their home town or village to celebrate Songkran. Because of this the New Year festival has been extended over the years and lasts from the 13th until the 19th in Pattaya. The 18th and 19th are the peak days in Pattaya.
What originally started out as a polite monks blessing sprinkling water has turned into what can only be described as full on water warfare! (Some people throw flower two which really makes quite a mess!) To venture onto to Pattaya Beach Road, the epicentre being around the Soi 8 beer bars, on the 18th or 19th of April is not for the faint hearted. Be prepared for a soaking, or stay at home! It is definitely fun if you are in the mood for it, however, if you’re an expat on the way to work dressed in your best work cloths you’d be well advised to get a taxi and keep your eyes peeled for would be water assassins. Also, it is not advised to ride a motorcycle during the week of Songkran because of the risk of been knocked off by someone throwing a bucket of water at you or a drunk driver running you down. It’s called the 7 days of danger for a reason, you just need to be careful! Because of this raised level of drinking and driving, the police increase their presence in the City and will set up road blocks waiting to catch people over the limit. A day or two in a Thai police station jail followed by a court hearing and fine is no way to spend Thai New Year, so take a taxi or if you don’t mind getting wet, grab a Baht bus.
Another thing of importance to consider is that most people carry smart phones with them everywhere and most are not waterproof. You will be able to buy a water tight plastic see through wallet on a string on most city street corners during Songkran week. A very worthwhile purchase and it’ll keep your money dry too. It is also customary to wear a brightly coloured flowery shirt during the festival week. When you start to see them in the markets, Big C and Tesco Lotus, you know Songkran is just around the corner!