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Is Thailand’s Songkran Water Festival Out of Control?

The first time I ever experienced the Songkran festival it was fun and cute I was in a small village few hours North of Bangkok and only one of a few hundred revelers which consisted mainly of children. Everyone else either stayed home and went to the temple where a circle of maybe 20 big drums of water were there and when they were empty it was all over. A few hours of mayhem and then the rest of the time was really fun. So how did It get from that to the utter madness of celebrating Songkran in any large city in Thailand?

Songkran is supposed to mean something but the meaning is all but lost when you walk down the street smashed with ice cold water. Thai's have been living with the barbarianism for their whole lives now so they can take it in their stride but for many westerners we lose our patience pretty quickly and mine is wearing thin.

To say the Songkran water festival is out of control isn't an alarm bell but a reality that everyone has to endure, but why? Why on earth has it got so damn crazy.

People die in Songkran and I'm not talking about a couple of people I'm talking about hundreds of people all over the country die due to this crazy festival. Sure accidents are caused by stupid thrill seeking individuals however it's the policing and dis-organization of Thailand's biggest and craziest festival that is making it out of control.

People can't go to work because it's too dangerous to get there not just to them but to their vehicles as well. Hundreds and thousands of people in Thailand go out and shop for a weeks worth of food and lock themselves inside too afraid to go out into the total carnage of the Songkran water festival in Thailand.

I remember in Australia we used to have what was called "Firecracker night" it was probably my most favorite holiday as a child besides Christmas. Nowadays they don't have firecracker night because firecrackers are now illegal to purchase in NSW. This was all done for safety reasons and for similar reasons as Thailand should introduce some sort of control for this out of control festival.

Don't get me wrong I'm not a stickler at all I still enjoy the festival but really is it really something you should be doing for a whole week long? I can't go to the post office I can't get to my favorite restaurants, I don't go shopping, I don't go clubbing in fact I spend less money on Songkran than I do at any other time of the year because I can't or won't want to go anywhere. You really think that's helping the economy at all?

As I said I do like the biggest water festival on earth but still wouldn't it be awesome if they said you can only do water throwing in these particular areas similar to how they do Independence day in America and let off firecrackers in only those cities that allow firecrackers. Then I could know that if I was on Sukhumvit Id get soaked but if I was walking around Lard Praow then I'd be dry. I could totally work around that and give a lot less reasons to bitch about this great Festival.

Really the celebrations are out of control for Time (it goes for too long) Location (It's done bloody everywhere) and lastly on Rules (You can throw water at anything with a heart beat). I'm not saying cancel Christmas (Songkran) I'm just simply saying implement some zoning and time rules for those who want to stay dry.

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About Chris

Chris founded LivingThai.org in 2011 and has received over 3 million visitors. He has lived here for over 10 years and speaks reads and writes very good Thai.

14 Responses to Is Thailand’s Songkran Water Festival Out of Control?

  1. Ben Johnson April 13, 2012 at 5:50 pm #

    Yes, for people who come here as tourists, it seems fun!! When you live and work here, it’s basically a time of mayhem!! I have been here for many years, and for me it’s the same routine each year. 2 days before it starts, i do all my shopping needs for the entire length of the festival. Then i only venture out, if need be, after dusk. And i never travel anywhere during this period!! Most Thais, if they are honest with you feel the same way about Songkran Festival. They don’t like the way it has become. Only just this morning, a Thai lady, my neighbour….told me that youngsters ride around on their bikes like feral drunken gangs!! She is amazed each year how many hundreds of Thais lose their lives from plain stupidity…. but never learn! And they’ll do it all over again next year!! Many years ago i was riding my motorbike up in Petchabun, some youngsters threw a bucket of ice water at me. The BLOCK of ice came out and hit me on the head, then i fell off my bike!! I was furious! But they thought it was hilarious!!
    So, to avoid being injured and losing my cool, i stay home and become a hermit for 3 days ha ha ha!!
    During this time, if your out and about…..do please take care and don’t drink and drive or ride! If it annoys you, don’t lose your cool…just stay home.
    Ben signing out!

  2. Jake April 13, 2012 at 8:34 pm #

    Like going to somebody’s house, eating their food, (banging their daughters), and then bitching about what they’re watching on TV … 😉

  3. CM April 14, 2012 at 4:42 am #

    and how many girls die from stds caused by the sex trade, but its funny we dont hear you whining about that one. You seem to have some selective morality going on just to suit your own lifestyle.

    • Chris April 14, 2012 at 4:53 am #

      That’s got to be the most dumbest comment i’ve ever heard.

    • nanoth April 19, 2012 at 4:36 pm #

      What a stupid comment!

  4. ChiangMaiGuy April 14, 2012 at 8:33 am #

    I agree, for those of us who actually live here, it’s mayhem. I bought a load of DVDs, stocked up on water and booze and I’m not going anywhere! (at least day times). I did the Songkran thing in my first 2 years but it gets old very quickly.

    For tourists I can see the charm – they could never do that ‘back home’ but it would be great to limit it to the one day (New Years Day Chris nothing to do with Christmas) but I’m not sure it will ever happen.

    It’s the farangs who annoy me more than anyone – they tend to get the most pissed and the tattoo ‘one week millionaires’ all come over for a kind of ‘stag party’ with no wedding at the end of it and get totally smashed.

    It used to be a ‘cleansing’ ceremony for the Buddhist New Year – a Blessing. But like most things it has lost it’s ‘value’ and is now an excuse for excess and carnage.

  5. jack April 14, 2012 at 9:13 am #

    The world is overloaded with idiots, and if they choose to die enmasse then let em.We foster mediocracy in the west, the nanny states we live truly suck ass.Fire cracker night should never have been banned by the do gooders in N.S.W. A few people get hurt and die so the majority is punished.
    Societies have become so sterile we let illiterate sociopaths Rule protected by snivelling bearucrats who are paid to well to come up with ridiculous laws to justify their petty existance.
    In Victoria they have criminals laws for swearing…get farked.
    Take responsibility for your actions, let nature take full course.

  6. Simon April 14, 2012 at 11:50 am #

    I’m in Chiang Mai at the moment, where I’m celebrating my first Songkran, but after two days of it already (they start early here) and another two to go, I’m just not sure I have it in me. I mean, the first two days were fun but how much water can one man throw? I have blisters on my trigger fingers and my arms are tired from constantly throwing buckets of water!

    • Chris April 19, 2012 at 4:53 pm #

      Still though dude hope you had fun, it’s still going on down here in Pattaya.

  7. Mark April 16, 2012 at 8:38 pm #

    Look, Thailand is Thailand. The government is not in control of the people, the people are in control. Just look at the state of the roads…the government can not raise any tax to change anything the people will not allow it.
    During songkran there is no control at all, not that there is much at any other time of the year either.

  8. Johnnie Walker April 18, 2012 at 5:51 pm #

    The original intention – a light sprinkle of water on the forehead as a blessing was fine, but yes it has become absolutely out of control. For instance a group of you are sitting in the back of a songthaew on Pattaya, all nice and dry. Driver stops at a red light & some bar girl runs out of a bar & lobs a full bucket of iced water into the back of the songthaew. Not remotely funny.

    By the way Chris, water throwing in Pattaya is supposed to stop at 6pm, so it should be safe to venture out after dark.

  9. Michael April 19, 2012 at 4:09 am #

    I had some of the same thoughts but as you have highlighted if you put guidelines/control rules around Songkran then you may as well stay in a western country, This is why most people attend the festival as it is out of control.

  10. Bryn April 19, 2012 at 4:39 am #

    I’m all for any festival or occassion that bring’s people together to have fun and feel good around each other.
    24 hours for Songkran is plenty to be drinking and throwing water ?

    The great thing about living here is you know what to expect and have 265 days notice to prepare an escape or lock down.

    I do find it unbelieveable that grown farang can drink and throw water like a 5 year old for a week or more and enjoy this. The IQ of a flip flop, and that’s an insult to a flip flop.

    But then we do need these mentally challenged people to stack our shelves in Tesco’s and drive our taxi’s when they return to their home town’s and consider what they feel was a blast.

    Arrrr bless ’em

  11. Random Farang December 16, 2014 at 1:12 am #

    The problem is easily solved by fleeing Thailand for 3 days. I set a reminder on my calendar that goes off every year, giving me plenty of time to by tickets and set up a hotel. Go anywhere but Laos, where Songran is even more moronic. This year I went to Vietnam. Next year, perhaps Malaysia.

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