Apr 13 2011
Bangkok is amazing during Songkran. As millions migrate back to their hometowns, the Thai capital is freed from its choking coil of traffic and can become downright bucolic. While this temporary desertion can make getting a cab or tuk tuk a bit of a challenge, the buses and trains are still running (time to invest a bus map — available at book stores and newspaper kiosks citywide, 100 baht) and the shopping centres and cinemas are still open.
Just about anywhere in the city can provide you with a good soaking, but if you are really looking for something special, concentrate your efforts on the areas close to the Grand Palace. The Khao San Road/Banglamphu areas have the most spirited water fights, as young people flock to this neighbourhood for this singular purpose. Silom and Royal City Avenue both turn into wet party areas, where water fights can be punctuated with cold drinks.
Wat Pho and Wat Arun (across the river in Thonburi) both have full schedules of ceremonies, merit making, and the chance to pour water on both Buddha images and monks and to receive their blessings. Visiting wats during Songkran can be really rewarding; often unexpected ceremonies happen as Thais gather to make merit for the new year.
Wats in the Khao San Road/Thanon Phra Athit actually hold a joint Songkran festival from April 9-15, featuring different foods, ceremonies, and activities at different wats. Check out a full schedule of events from the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s special Songkran site.
Video courtesy of Nomadic Matt’s Round the World travel site.
Tomorrow: Gay Songkran!
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