April 13th marks the start of the Songkran Festival in Thailand, the Buddhist New Year. It’s one of the most fun Festivals anywhere with vast amounts of water being splashed and thrown at others and white talcum powder pasted on cheeks. The tradition started with the gentle sprinkling of a little water over relatives, neighbours and close friends, thereby washing away the bad luck of the previous 12 months. Now, though, sprinkling has morphed into throwing gallons with everyone being a target.
If you are in Bangkok, one of the best areas to let your hair down and celebrate used to be at the top of Silom near Rama IV Road. Gay revellers also packed Soi 4, home to many gay venues including the long-established Telephone and Balcony bars. This year, though, the government has included both in a list of no-splashing areas. If you are to be in Bangkok, check with your hotel or the bars where you can play with water in the streets.
In most parts of the country the Festival lasts three days, with the water splashing taking place on Days 1 and 2. Pattaya is rather different. There the Festival lasts longer and one of the zaniest splashing days is on the Wan Nai Festival on April 19. Boyztown will certainly be packed and a a riot of fun.
Overseas revellers taking part will want to be sure any valuables you carry with you are safely packed into well-sealed plastic bags. This includes any money you need – and of course, this being Thailand, your passport which it is mandatory to carry with you at all times in this country.
Neighbouring countries which celebrate the start of the Buddhist New Year include Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos.