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Ready to get wet?

Songkran, Thailand’s New Year’s Day festival, is both a Buddhist festival and the world’s biggest water fight

  • Ready to get wet?
  • Ready to get wet?
  • Ready to get wet?
  • Ready to get wet?
  • Ready to get wet?
  • Ready to get wet?
  • Ready to get wet?
  • Ready to get wet?

If you find yourself in Thailand from 13-15 April, be prepared to get wet. The Songkran celebrations for Thai New Year are ostensibly a Buddhist festival, and a time for cleansing and renewal – but cleansing for most people involves water pistols, buckets and hoses.

While the northern city of Chiang Mai has the most famous Songkran celebrations, where the festival lasts six days or more, you’ll see it everywhere. These photos were taken in Bangkok in 2012, when  photographer Aaron Joel Santos was trying to get a sense of the party atmosphere.

“It’s basically a crazy, city-wide street party,” says Santos. “It’s very all-encompassing – even the fire trucks and ice trucks come out and fire water at people, who are often dressed up in costumes a la Hallowe’en. It’s rare to see a whole city involved in something like this, and it’s quite surreal.”

Still, he says, there are hotspots for getting soaked. “Khao San Road, the backpacker strip, is possibly the best place to go. Or there’s a lot going on around the adult entertainment areas, for some reason – Patpong, the red light district, and up to Silom, near the Skytrain and underground. It’s maybe 60/40 Thai on Khao San Road, but it’s almost all Thais celebrating around Patpong.”

As well as water-throwing, a fixture of Songkran is a beige talcum powder that is smeared on the faces of passers-by. Just avoid the people throwing ice cubes, which is considered bad Songkran etiquette. And if all the partying’s too much, you can escape to a wat (Buddhist monastery), where many people go to pray, give food to the monks and often cleanse images of Buddha by gently pouring scented water. Whatever you do, leave your valuables at home.
 
Norwegian flies to Bangkok from Oslo and Stockholm. Book your flights, your hotel and your rental car at norwegian.com


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