Thailand has more than its fair share of unique attractions and treasures to keep travellers and tourists flooding back every year, from pristine beaches and paradise islands to the sensory overload of its cities or the wild antics of all night beach parties.
One thing that probably isn’t on most Thailand visitors’ to-do lists when they head over there is ‘throwing a bit of water,’ but water throwing does in fact play a big part in what is one of the country’s most celebrated festivals.
It might sound a far cry from Bangkok ladyboys, full moon raves and the notorious antics of Patpong but if you want to soak up (literally) the atmosphere of a genuine cultural event that is about more than just pandering to thrill-seeking tourists then Songkran is certainly worth a visit.
Taking place from April 13-15, the festival marks the start of Thailand’s traditional New Year in its own unique way. The clue is in the nickname, with the water throwing festival literally involving throwing a lot of water on friends, family and complete strangers as well. Songkran’s roots are deeply religious and the occasion is still marked with family visits to the temple, offerings to Buddhist monks and the cleansing of images of Buddha. The more respectable element of the water festival is also evident in the sprinkling of water on the hands of elders as a mark of respect and a good luck gesture.
The sprinkling of water goes a step further later on however when it descends into one massive water fight in the street. Cups of water are swapped for buckets, hose pipes and even good old water pistols to give anyone within reach a good soaking, while the addition of coloured talcum powder into the mix adds some colour to proceedings too, not dissimilar to the Hindu Festival of Holi. Throwing water on someone is supposed to bring good fortune for the year ahead and if Denise Richards and her friend turn up dressed like they were in that car wash scene in Wild Things, then you certainly will be in luck.
But pipe dreams aside, it’s all about a spirit of togetherness and the chance to give a right, royal soaking to a complete stranger only to be met with a smile rather than a fist flying towards your face seems too good an opportunity to miss.
So if you find yourself in the country around April 13 just make sure you’re armed to the teeth with Super Soakers and water balloons. It may not be the soaking you had in mind when you set your sights on Thailand but it’s certainly one you won’t forget in a hurry.