We happened to be in Chiang Mai for Songkran. That’s like just happening to be in Dublin for St Patrick’s Day and it falls on a weekend, but just add water…..lots of water! We knew when we booked that we would be there for it, but we didn’t realise just how big a festival it is until we arrived.
Songkran is the New Year and for many Thai workers, it’s the only holiday they get. The length of the holiday varies from region to region, but in Chiang Mai they take it very seriously and it lasts for around 5 days from 12th to 17th April. Hint…major travel disruption.
We were lucky to see the traditional side of Songkran and visited some temples on the morning of the first day. We brought alms to the monks and got a good luck blessing for the new year. After that, all bets were off and we got soaked, mainly by foreigners with huge super soakers.
So my tips for travelling during Songkran, especially in Chiang Mai are:
Go out very early in the morning or at night and the 13th/14th are the worst days for water fights.
Don’t bring a camera or phone unless it’s in a waterproof case. And make sure it really is 100% waterproof!
Don’t try to cross the moat during the day unless you want to get involved in the water fight, in that case, go right ahead!
Bring a bottle of clean water with you so that you can clean your lips and eyes after you get water from a questionable source thrown on you. Also try to block you ears if that’s possible.
Make sure to wear waterproof sunscreen and keep it topped up. With temperatures in the 40s, it’s HOT!
Visit the temples, watch the procession and actually find out about the traditions of Songkran from the locals.
Be prepared to spend 3 days totally wet. If this isn’t for you, maybe pick a different time to visit Chiang Mai.
Would I go back to Chiang Mai? Yes, absolutely. Would I go back during Songkran? Possibly not.
Have a good week 🙂