It turned out that Songkran (Thai new year) fell in the first week of our month long stay in Phuket so we thought we’d better get geared up and see what it was all about. As the country is officially in mourning many said that the celebrations wouldn’t be as raucous as previous years and would be confined to the first day of the festival – April 13th. Based on our experience though, celebrating Songkran in Phuket was still pretty crazy!
We duly purchased some water guns, packed everything up in waterproofs and headed to Patong, known for being the centre of the action, around mid afternoon time. Whilst we wanted to check out the madness we were aiming to get there when everything was in action but before everyone had too much to drink and got messy. I’d say we timed it about right.
If you’re enjoying Songkran in Phuket then Bangla Road is the main place to be and whilst we were soaked through by the time we got there it put the rest of the party to shame. Foam parties were lining the outside of the biggest bars, Thais and westerners were partying up and down the street chucking water over everyone, downing Chang and brandishing super soakers. There must have been thousands of people crammed into the street and it was absolute mayhem.
Best of all, the atmosphere was amazing. From what we saw everyone was there to have a laugh, no one was taking it too far and it was ridiculously good fun. I’m sure there are places and times of the day when Songkran in Phuket edges over into something a little less family friendly, but in our experience it was just a bunch of people of all ages getting together to join in the madness of celebrating new year Thai style. Little kids are the worst incidentally, they literally show no mercy!
After an exhausting walk through Bangla road and a couple of beers, we headed down to the beach through the chaos to dry off and chill for a bit. On Patong beach it was business as usual and you’d never guess what was happening a couple of streets back. Most people were relaxing, sunbathing and enjoying the wall to wall sunshine – especially welcomed after a couple of stormy days.
We’re totally not hardcore enough to party in Patong for hours at the best of times and Songkran was no exception. It gets pretty messy once the sun goes down so if that’s your kind of thing it’s going to be perfect for you. If you prefer to chill after dipping a toe into Songkran celebrations it’s worth just watching the sunset with a beer, having a beach side dinner and fighting the crowds to get home.
Getting back to Kathu (in the centre of Phuket) was by far the worst part of our Songkran in Phuket. Grab car was useless with no drivers available, tuk tuks were trying to charge £30+ for a 10 minute journey and it was just a bit horrendous. Luckily we managed to get a decent deal with a friendly driver who took pity on us and it took us just over an hour to get back to the apartment. All in all, it was 100% worth experiencing and I’d recommend everyone to head to Thailand for Songkran at least once.