How to Pack for the Songkran Festival in Thailand

The advent of spring means different things to different parts of the world. In Japan, it heralds the arrival of the Sakura, or cherry blossoms. In New York, spring brings a fresh fullness to Central Park (as well as baseball season). And in Amsterdam, it’s an excuse for droves of orange-clad revelers to party in the city’s canals. 

But there is perhaps no better spring festival in the world than Thailand’s preeminent party: The Songkran Festival. In this article, let’s explore what it is and how you can pack for the unique experience.

What Is the Songkran Festival?

In short, the Songkran Festival is a nation-wide water fight. From small towns to big cities like Bangkok and Chiang Mai (the latter is a particularly fun place to experience the festival), Thai people take to the streets in mid-April to soak one another with water guns and water balloons. 

From wealthy businesspeople to school kids, everyone’s fair game. Well, almost everyone – you have to leave monks, newborn babies and elderly people alone. All in all, it’s a fun way to interact with strangers and beat the Thai springtime heat. Here’s how to pack for it. 

Pack Quick-Drying Clothing

Unless you want to spend the entire day either soaked or lugging around a backpack full of musty clothing, it’s best to pack quick-drying clothes. Get yourself some Unbound Merino travel clothing for the trip; in addition to quickly drying, their clothes are also breathable and sweat-wicking, a bonus for Thailand’s hot, humid climate. 

Sandwich Bags Are a Lifesaver

Many a phone has fallen prey to the Songkran Festival. If you rely on your phone to get by (most travellers do these days), don’t risk it – wrap it up. The same goes for other electronics like cameras, portable WIFIs and smartwatches, as well as any jewelry you don’t want to get wet. Pack a stack of sandwich bags for your trip, or stop by a Thai supermarket when you land to get plastic zip-top bags for a few baht. 

Don’t Neglect Sun Safety

The water may cool you down, but it offers no protection from the intense Southeast Asian sun. Worse, cooling off can trick you into thinking the sun isn’t so bad. Before you take off, make sure you procure sunscreen that’s at least 30 SPF and pack a good hat. 

Wear Flip Flops or Waterproof Shoes

The Songkran Festival isn’t the time to show off your new Air Jordans or Chuck Taylors. You need functional footwear that will dry quickly, either on your feet or strung to your bag. If you already have a pair of waterproof footwear, go for that. If not, pack a simple pair of flip-flops you can hang to dry afterwards. 

Pack Your Favorite Water Gun (Or Just Buy One There)

Finally, you’ll need your weapon of choice – of the water variety, of course. You can certainly pack your own Super Soaker (you may have to endure an awkward conversation at airport security). Or, for around 150 baht, or $5 US, you can just grab a water rifle from a local vendor. Either way, don’t enter the water fight unarmed!

If you’re looking for an authentic Thai experience, one that combines excitement with tradition, celebrate the warm weather at the Songkran Festival in mid-April. Just make sure you pack the items listed above!

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