It was an amazing experiencing and I have the opportunity to be part of this annual event back in 2019 just a year before the pandemic begins. Like you, I want to ensure that I have all things prepared for this event and below is my experience, guide and tips if your first time joins the Songkran festival.
What is Songkran?
Songkran Festival is Thailand's biggest annual festival and will be celebrated every 13-15th April every year. It Thai's New Year National Holiday and to all non-Thais, we know it as a fun water fight" festival. However, Songkran is far beyond that just water fight/splash The Songkran celebration is rich with symbolic traditions. Local will do merit-making in the morning time, visiting temples and offering food to Buddhist monks. Splashing water on yourself or to others is bele\ieve to cleanse from bad things and bad lucks. During this period, most Thais will return to their hometown to visit loved ones and their elders.
Where to Stay for the best Songkran?
There are two areas that are close to where most of the events happened: Silom (near Sala Daeng BTS Station) & Khaosan Road. If you love chaotic, playing all nights, you may stay near to the location. Plenty of choices of accommodations ranging from high end to mid-range accommodation. I personally recommend D Varee Express Pula which near BTS Station and just right in front of where the water fight happened.
At Khaosan Road, previously I stayed at Khaosan Art Hotel, simple yet very affordable and just 10 minutes walk to where the events happened. If you ask me, depends on you, if you don't mind noisy, getting wet and get water shot everywhere you go - stay near to the location. But if you like to separate away from the water fight for a moment, you may choose to stay a little bit more further up but still walkable to the event location. I would recommend this one because based on my experience, the water fight lasted hours and hours, you will get wet all the time even if you out from the fight (they still shoot you) if you near the area!
Transportation during Songkran
It can be challenging as many roads may be closed or congested due to the festivities. Plan your transportation in advance. The Grabike sometime very limited due to high demand. Be aware of this. Consider using public transportation, such as BTS Skytrain, to get around.
What to do during Songkran
At early afternoon, you may start your activities at Silom Road. The main road will be closed specifically for this water activities. Spend 1 and half hours here and then hop on Grabbike and continue at Khoa San Road. This is two popular spots for water activity. Based in my experience, Khoa San Road is more crowded. The water activities may start from mid afternoon until late night depending on the crowd and regulation that set by the authorities.
During Songkran, some shops may be closed or have reduced operating hours, especially during the peak days of the festival. However, many tourist areas and shopping centers will remain open, albeit with some adjustments to accommodate the festivities. Tourist area such as Khao San Road and Silom Road are likely to remain open.
During evening, spend your time at the bustling night market such Patpong Night Market, Jodd Fairs and more.
What Items to buy?
Water gun - Yes, if you wish to participate, you should budget around THB150 or more for a water gun. You can buy from street vendors available throughout the city.
Waterproof phone case, waterproof beg - to keep your wallet and valuable items.
Sunglass - Using sunglass in case of water splashes into your eyes.
Drinking water - Bring your drinking water because you need to stay hydrated while having fun under the hot blazing sun!
Extra Tips : Lastly, prepare small notes/coins to top up your water along the way.
During the Songkran festival, it's important to dress appropriately. You'll be getting wet, so wear light and comfortable clothing that dries quickly. Avoid wearing anything too revealing or expensive, as it may get damaged during the water-throwing. As you will wet all day, quick-dry clothes are recommended. A Hawaiian shirt is famous amongst Thais and you should wear one of them on your water flight. During the Songkran festival, it's important to dress appropriately.
Despite having fun all days, you should also pay attention to the safety of yourself and the safety of others.
Avoid shooting someone with a water gun directly into their eyes. As you get excited and everyone started shooting here and there, the water-fight can become uncontrolled.
Protect your valuable and be vigilant at all time as it will be crowded especially at center of the festival.
Wear sunscreen and a hat to protect yourself from the sun, and don't forget to take breaks and rest when you need to.
There you go, this probably essential thing or info that you might need to know if you plan to celebrate Songkran. All of this based on my experience previously.