Wet and Wild: Water Festival in Bangkok and Yangon

Posted on April 16, 2012 by

It’s wet, it’s wild and it’s loud. Songkran festival is synonymous with massive water wars and street parties. In Thailand and many other parts of Southeast Asia, Songkran is celebrated as the traditional New Year’s Day. Traditionally,  people celebrate by paying respects to the elders and visiting the temples to pray or give food to monks. The splashing of water originated as a way to pay respect to people, but these days, it has evolved into major water fights and a means to cool off from the heat.

Over the weekend, we celebrated Songkran in Khao San, Bangkok where locals and tourists alike flood the streets, armed with chrome-colored water guns, ready to have a good time. We squeezed elbow-to-elbow with the crowd, getting buckets of ice cold water poured on our heads and chalk powder smeared on our faces. The Thais sure know how to bring in the new year and there’s no better way to experience it than to join in the fun. Here are some photos from Songkran (taken with my waterrproof camera):

People covered in powder and water

People covered in powder and water on the streets of Khao San, Bangkok

Khao San, Bangkok

Mayhem along Khao San Road

People armed with water guns and buckets

Families and friends get armed with water guns and prepare to have a good time

Alberto and I
Alberto and I having the time of our lives

Our gang

Our gang of water warriors: Claire and Iain from OldWorldWandering and Deborah and Matt from Travelwithamate. Check out Matt’s awesome video from Songkran.

Cranking it up a notch in Yangon, Burma

Just when we thought Songkran in Bangkok was possibly the best festival experience we’ve had, we arrived in Yangon where the street parties and water fights were even bigger, louder and crazier. The Burmese New Year, known as Thingyan, obviously involved plenty of water splashing as well. In the city centre of Yangon, stages were set up along the streets, packed with hundreds of young Burmese, spraying water with luminous green hoses while gyrating to Burmese rock and the occasional Lady Gaga songs. Around Sule Pagoda, there were traditional dance performance as well as clusters of street food stalls and roads blocked out for revelers.

Plenty of Burmese came up to us, shook our hands, and asked if we were enjoying ourselves. I lost count of the number of times the friendly locals shouted as us (the only foreigners on the streets), “Welcome to Myanmar!” We will be spending the next few weeks in Burma – meanwhile, here are some photos from the water festival in Yangon:

Dancing in the water

People fill up the temporary stages to spray the trucks with hoses and dance the day away

Getting wet

Getting wet on trucks

People on stage spraying

Underneath the hoses

Streets closed for Thingyan

In front of the Parliament House, streets are closed for the massive water fight

Trucks getting stuck in traffic

Trucks upon trucks of people are stuck in traffic as they head into town for the epic street party

Comments

comments

About Nellie Huang

Nellie Huang is the co-founder of WildJunket. As a professional travel writer with a special interest in offgrid destinations and adventure travel, she scours through the world in search for a slice of undiscovered paradise. In her quest, she's climbed an active volcano in Guatemala, swam with sealions in the Galapagos and built a school in Tanzania.

16 Responses to “Wet and Wild: Water Festival in Bangkok and Yangon”

  1. Roy Marvelous April 17, 2012 12:29 am
    #

    I'm so bummed I missed it. Was in Phuket but had to return back to work…

    • Nellie May 21, 2012 9:09 pm
      #

      Ah what a pity! Well I\’m sure you\’ll get to go back someday. ;)

  2. Martin Halsey April 10, 2013 11:42 pm
    #

    If I'm ever in town in time for this, I'll be sure to pack a wetsuit and raincoat. As fun as it is, I'd want to at least get to my hotel high and dry first before anything else.

  3. Peter Mallarck May 6, 2013 10:40 pm
    #

    That sure looks like a lot of fun. I just hope they don't go chasing people into their hotel rooms. As much as I'd want to participate in the festival, I'd still want to enjoy being relaxed and dry in my suite.

  4. Nellie May 21, 2012 9:08 pm
    #

    My pleasure! Songkran was definitely the most fun I\’ve had at a festival. Hope you get the chance to experience it soon, let me know how it goes then. :)

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. 5 Wacky Festivals Around the World | Wild Junket - April 20, 2012

    [...] participating in festivals can add plenty of fun to your travels. Having recently taken part in the water festival in Thailand and Burma, we’re convinced that the best time to visit a country is during a festival. So get your [...]

  2. At Home in Bangkok | Wild Junket - May 18, 2012

    [...] Bangkok has been a frequent stop for us – since it’s a major hub in the region. Our Songkran experience in Bangkok was definitely one to remember; so are the times spent hopping from one temple to the next, [...]

  3. Photoblog: The Golden Shwedagon Paya in Yangon, Myanmar | Wild Junket - June 13, 2012

    [...] visited Shwedagon during Thingyan, the Burmese New Year, when people from around the country flocked to the holy spot to send prayers and [...]

  4. Colonial Splendor in Yangon | Wild Junket - June 14, 2012

    [...] experiencing Songkran in Bangkok we arrived in Yangon, Myanmar just in time for the Thingyan festival, which involved even crazier [...]

  5. Overland Travel from Asia to Europe: Our Itinerary and Plans - Wild Junket - July 24, 2012

    [...] train it down to Bangkok mainly to apply for our visas and meet up with old friends. A few days in Bangkok for Songkran should be quite the highlight – followed by taking the train further down south to the Suratthani [...]

  6. The Reality of Being A Digital Nomad - Wild Junket - July 24, 2012

    [...] swam with whale sharks in the Philippines, hiked through beautiful rice terraces in Sapa, celebrated Songkran in Bangkok, biked through the holy land of Bagan in Myanmar, traversed through China and even made a visit [...]

  7. The Reality of Being A Digital Nomad - Wild Junket - July 24, 2012

    [...] swam with whale sharks in the Philippines, hiked through beautiful rice terraces in Sapa, celebrated Songkran in Bangkok, biked through the holy land of Bagan in Myanmar, traversed through China and even made a visit [...]

  8. Highlights of Our 6-Month Trip in Asia - Wild Junket - July 26, 2012

    [...] but these days, it has evolved into major water fights and a means to cool off from the heat. We celebrated Songkran in Khao San, Bangkok where locals and tourists alike flood the streets, armed with chrome-colored water guns, ready to [...]

  9. 2012: Our Year in Photos - Wild Junket - December 31, 2012

    [...] out over street food and cocktails. We then headed down to Bangkok by train where we celebrated Songkran on the streets and had a wild time. To bury our heads in work, we chose the laid back island of [...]

  10. 2012: Our Year in PhotosVietnam Visa in Australia | Vietnam Visa in Australia - January 14, 2013

    [...] transport food and cocktails. We afterwards headed down to Bangkok by sight where we celebrated Songkran on a streets and had a furious time. To bury a heads in work, we chose the laid back island of [...]

  11. Travel Bloggers and Festivals - VickyFlipFlopTravels.com - January 14, 2014

    [...] Songkran is a crazy water festival in Thailand. It’s to celebrate the start of the rainy season and to give thanks to the gods for sending it. What this means for the festival traveller is that you’ll get drenched by a super soaker / bucket of water / barrage of waterbombs wherever you go. All great fun, so I’m told. Nellie from WildJunket.com’s verdict? [...]