Expat Magazine

Songkran Expectations Versus Reality

By Tielandtothailand @tielandthailand
Songkran Expectations Versus Reality

Songkran is one of Thailand's most popular and coolest festivals. It's up there along with the Running of the Bulls in Spain and the Holi Festival of Colors in India. And while it attracts millions of people from around the world, there are a few things you should know - a little Songkran expectations versus reality, per se - before going to the world's biggest water fight.

We participated in Chiang Mai's Songkran when we first moved to Thailand in 2013. And you know what? Songkran will forever be the most memorable water fight we've ever experienced. Water guns, massive hoses, stages with live music and basses blasting, parades, street food, and people of all ages having a grand time getting each other soaking wet.

While undoubtedly fun and unlike any party we've ever been to, it was also a bit overwhelming and exhausting. We simply weren't mentally prepared for Songkran's impressive crowds and intense energy and we blindly jumped into craziness up to our eyeballs. And we mean that quite literally. We got caught in a foam party where everything but our eyes was covered in suds!

Songkran Expectations Versus Reality

Taking Public Transportation

Songkran Expectations Versus Reality

Expectation
There's a chance you'll be drinking later and don't want to drive home. Plus, it's a great chance to get the cultural experience of riding in a tuk-tuk or songthaew (red cab trucks) and sightsee along the way to the big celebration.

Reality
Unless you use public transportation that can shut its windows and lock its doors, you'll be a sitting duck. Open-aired tuk-tuks, songthaews, and mini buses stuck in traffic are the perfect target. You will get absolutely soaked, a victim of an uncountable number of bucket dumps in the lap and squirt guns to the face. And bless your soul if you have luggage. Let's hope your holiday enthusiasm doesn't wear off by the time you get to your final destination!

Being Ten Years Old Again

Songkran Expectations Versus Reality

You didn't reapply your sunscreen or simply forgot to put it on in the first place. Now you have a painful sunburn on your shoulders, arms, and the tops of your feet. There was no base tan preparation either, since it's April.

You are exhausted and sore in places you didn't know were possible. And there are still several more days to go. Let's hope you can move tomorrow.

Oh the irony of being surrounded and soaked by water but being admitted to the clinic for severe dehydration. Seriously, it happens!

Your clothes have been wet for hours and the sun is going down. Your lips are blue and you can't feel your toes. Although you're in a tropical climate, there's a chance you're getting hypothermia.

Taking Photos and Videos

Reality
Although you bought a waterproof sealable bag from a roadside vendor, you forgot to close it completely that one time and now your iPhone is dead. Womp womp.

Drinking Adult Beverages

Songkran Expectations Versus Reality

Reality
Not-so-clean Songkran water got in your cup, but you drank it anyways. Heck, alcohol kills parasites and bacteria, right? Wrong. A week later, you're still unable to eat solid foods and finally succumb to going to the clinic for some antibiotics. You humbly use any toilet within reach, even those infamous squat toilets that need a bucket to flush.

Splashing People Appropriately

Songkran Expectations Versus Reality

Reality
You get pummeled because everyone has a super soaker. Although you make an attempt at playful water fights, some people in the crowd go way overboard. Your orifices have never been so violated and you wish you had been smart enough to wear goggles, ear plugs, or better yet, a full faced anti-riot mask. Two days later you've developed a serious case of pink eye and an ear infection. You pay more than a few bucks to get these treated at the clinic.

You also lose your friends on multiple occasions because everyone is wearing floral shirts.

Songkran Expectations Versus Reality

Whether you have read this in silent disbelief or are nodding your head in agreement (because you've been there, done that), Songkran is still magical.

Songkran will be the most amazing water fight you'll ever experience. Our first Songkran was for us! You'll be surrounded by the happy-go-lucky energy of the crowd, witness the colorful arrays of shirts and buckets, and remember the utter joy of feeling like a kid again. It's definitely a once-in-a-lifetime thing, so do it if you can. Stay safe and have fun, and Happy Songkran!

We now offer professional travel prep via our Thailand Coaching Sessions and trip planning through our custom Travel Itineraries .


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