If you don't know already, Songkhran is the Thai New Year Festival.This festival is celebrated in accordance with the full moon in April each year. It lasts from 1-5 days depending on the area. It is a time of renewal, to wash off the old year and prepare for the new. It's also a time to honor your elders and hope for a blessing from them. It is a time of tradition and many ceremonies and rituals. Songkhran is very interesting and exciting, culturally and socially.
For many Thais, expats and tourists, it is also a time for the biggest water "fight" in the world. People, young and old, male and female, rich and poor, local and foreign, line to streets of Thailand and use a variety of methods to propel water onto other people.It's like being a kid again. So much fun to get crazy for a few days. One thing I learned quickly while participating in this festival is you must waterproof anything of value, such as your wallet, passport, and mobile phone.
The weapons used for this celebration come in all shapes and sizes. I have seen large water rifles water tanks attached, water pistols, bowls, hoses, water guns attached to tanks you can strap to your back with plenty of water, and even buckets. There used to be a cylinder that resembled an air pump for balls or tires but the pressure was so great it caused injuries so it was banned. My weapon of choice is the water rifle and a water pistol for emergencies. Shops and some private residences keep plastic trash cans or other receptacles full of water so it's easy to keep your weapons full.
A few years back I had to pleasure of spending Songkhran in Phuket. The authorities limited the water playing activities to one area near Patong Beach and only for one day. The streets were closed to traffic which made the playing more enjoyable. Bands were playing, cold beer was flowing, lots of food available but expect to eat it soggy. It was a great time roaming the streets and engaging other water soaked people washing away the previous year. When I got a bit tired I would find a spot, sit and enjoy a cold beer while watching others having fun. All in all a great time. After a day of revelry, sun and water I hit the sack early, my body drained but my heart and mind content.
The water playing aside, this is a very important holiday and festival for Thai people and Thai culture. A time for families to come together and renew, a time of blessings and honoring, please keep this in mind at you are celebrating. Songkhran is during the full moon in April. If you want to join in this festival you should plan early. It has peak travel time for locals and tourism alike. It is truly a unique experience.