I’ve always loved New Year in the UK but after experiencing it in Thailand, it’ll never be able to compare again.
Celebrated from 3-5 days in the middle of April, it is renowned for it’s incredible festivities and if you are visiting Thailand I would very highly recommend trying to visit in April as it was honestly one of the craziest and most surreal experiences of my life. Only in Thailand could you find something this spectacularly hectic that’s so much fun.
Although it’s meant to be amazing all over the country, Chiang Mai is known for being one of the places where they really go all out so we opted to stay here over the festival.
We stayed right in the centre of the madness, near the river, so naturally we couldn’t leave our hotel room without having buckets of dirty river water chucked over our heads.
This may not sound appealing but the atmosphere is absolutely electric and it’s impossible not to get swept away in all the joy and frivolity of it.
There’s the most epic street parties on every street, full of people drinking, dancing and shooting each other with water guns.
It’s the most unique and exhilarating experience.
You know when you were young and the summer holidays felt never-ending and you’d have a huge water fight with all the kids on your street and you felt as if you could live in that moment of pure happiness forever… it’s exactly that feeling. But amplified because it lasts 5 whole days!
For 5 days straight, we carried around water guns and buckets and felt like we were in a huge game with all the locals and all the tourists.
We also experienced an hour long journey in a pick up truck whilst locals lined the streets with hosepipes and ambushed the truck at every opportunity.
If you’re wondering how the hell this all started, the Thai people believe that water purifies the spirit and cleanses you of bad luck and mistakes from the previous year, whilst also blessing you with prosperity and happiness for the coming year.
So every local that throws water over your head means it in the nicest way possible (although it doesn’t always feel that way when you’ve just blowdried your hair!)
On actual New Years day itself we accidentally stumbled across the most insane parade, featuring a huge water blaster that everyone paraded through (assumedly to cleanse their souls).
One amazing group of lady boys twerked all the way through the water, whilst most people were drinking, dancing, and laughing their way through.
I’m not sure of the exact location and details of the parade as it was pure luck that we ended up there. I would strongly suggest that you ask your hotel when and where it is as you really don’t want to miss this. Real once in a lifetime stuff.
It was honestly so beautiful to see and really embodied the positive spirit of the Thai people who are genuinely the most friendly, welcoming and content people ever.
When I looked through these pictures to start writing this blog post, I have to admit I got very emotional. The memory of how incredibly happy we were because of the simple pleasure of people coming together and laughing and playing in the water like children was magical. I need to go every year.
I would recommend this festival to absolutely anyone who enjoys life and likes to have fun.
I do have a few survival tips though…
- Wear clothes you don’t mind ruining as we couldn’t wash the smell of the dirty river water out of our clothes for absolutely ages!
- Keep your mouth and eyes tightly shut when people are throwing their water at you, soooo many people seem to get ill because obviously the water isn’t safe for tourists to drink.
- Don’t leave the house without a very waterproof case for your phone and money. They sell them super cheap in every shop leading up to the festival.
- Be prepared for the festivities to start the day before they’re meant to in some places (like Chiang Mai). We saw too many unprepared people get their phones ruined!
- Don’t waste time doing your hair or make-up, I can guarantee it’ll be ruined within 5 seconds.
- Stay somewhere central and get as involved as possible!