Ok so we’ve had a look at Chinese New year here in Phuket, but we’re forgetting something here aren’t we? Of course, it is the festival of Songkran – Thai New year!
Songkran – literally meaning ‘the passing of’ – starts on the 13th of April and lasts until the 15th. Whilst a lot of those celebrating the Thai New Year like to do so in the traditional way, that being reflecting on the past year and how the next can improve, while engaging in marks of veneration for the elders in the family, most people use the New Year as an excuse to become merrymakers for two days!
During Songkran it has become customary to spend two days dousing one another with water for fun. This water dousing lasts for the full two days of the New Year festivities. With April being the hottest month here on Phuket it can actually be quite refreshing to be soaked every so often! This kind of flies in the face of convention, as farmers would have to wait until the hottest months are over and the rains have begun before they could sew their rice plants, and so it is hard to imagine they would approve of this form of revelry.
The Songkran water festival starts early in the morning. The festivities will begin at around ten in the morning in Phuket Town, with the odd bowl of water being thrown here and there. Once we hit the afternoon, though, larger skirmishes will begin to break out in Patong and Kata. Once the late afternoon and early evening arrives then all-out warfare will have devoured the island. This will be centred in Bangla Road and will last until the early hours.
For those visiting and wanting to get involved, it is very easy to do so. The many supermarkets that line the streets will be selling many different varieties of water-gun. Why not head along and buy the largest one on the shelf?! You’ll need to arm yourself because let’s face it, everyone else will be and you’ll be getting VERY wet!
Be warned, however, that if you are going to Phuket to rest and relax during Songkran then you might struggle if you are staying in one of the towns. The festival is very lively and literally everyone will be involved, so you’ll struggle to even open the door to your apartment without getting a soaking! If you are visiting at this time of year and are looking for a more peaceful experience, then it is probably a better idea to steer clear of the busier areas and stay somewhere rural. Bear in mind that even then you aren’t guaranteed to avoid getting wet!