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Songkran 2014

Songkran Water Festival

Two weeks from today will be the first day of Songkran, Thailand’s mad New Year water festival celebrations. Every year, for a hot week in April, Thailand’s northern city of Chiang Mai undergoes it’s metamorphosis from laid back garden city to the full blown party capital of Thailand. The city has become famed for its wild and wet celebrations of Songkran, which centre around the moat surrounding the old city.

The official Songkran holiday runs from Sunday 13th April 2014 until Tuesday 15th April. Wednesday 16th is allegedly a public holiday too though without the water throwing. However, in Chiang Mai, especially around the moat, the drenching usually starts on the twelfth, and almost certainly will be in full swing this year since it’s a Saturday. The main party places are Thapae Gate and outside the Kad Suan Kaew shopping complex. Between these venues a constant parade of vehicles, slowed to walking pace, fill the inner and outer moat roads.

Songkran in Thailand
Thailand’s Songkran Festival

Water Wars

For the un-initiated, Songkran is the annual Thai New Year festival. What started as a Bhuddist tradition of pouring water on Bhudda statues and the hands and feet of elders to cleanse and show respect, has now become anything but respectful. For several days it seems the entire population is out on the streets attempting to drown each other with as much water as possible in the world’s number one water fight.

Songkran Chiang Mai Thapae Chiang Mai Songkran
Water wars around the moat near Thapae gate

Most popular choice of war wagon is the pickup truck; loaded up with a large bin of water, plenty of beer and as many people as can be squeezed in! They maraud around the moat armed with plenty of buckets, high powered water pistols and proceed to soak anyone who comes in range. Others take up position by the side of the street and the nearest hosepipe to playfully soak passers-by.

Songkran in Chiang Mai
Songkran in Chiang Mai – Pickup Wars

In Chiang Mai, the local population is joined by throngs of tourists as well as many Thais from surrounding towns or returning home for the holiday from Bangkok, add to them the throngs of tourists who come to join in the fun and the city is packed.

Gay Songkran in Chiang Mai

If you are planning on visiting Chiang Mai for Songkran, don’t leave it any longer to make arrangements. Flights, buses and trains to Chiang Mai are usually full, as are many hotels and guest houses. If you are planning a trip here to enjoy Songkran, book today and don’t delay or you may be disappointed. For gay accommodation options in Chiang Mai check out our gay accommodation pages. Or, if your favourite hotel or guest house is already full see our recent article on other accommodation options in Chiang Mai.

We do not yet know of any specific events for gay Songkran, except for a special Songkran show at Adam’s Apple Club. If you own a gay venue and are planning any special events over Songkran be sure to let us know.

Day time Gay Songkran

During the daytime at Songkran, a few bars with street frontage in busy areas have daytime parties. Popular in the past have been Soho Bar and Ram Bar otherwise follow the crowd around the moat. As well as water, alcohol is a significant part of the Songkran psyche and, despite attempts to ban it from public areas it can usually be found (N.B. in past years alcohol sales have been banned around the moat – and, in any case it is always illegal to sell alochol between 2p.m. and 5 p.m).

Songkran at Soho
Songkran partygoers at Soho Bar (Some time ago now...)

Night Time Gay Songkran

Whilst Songkran is a big party, the night-life is often somewhat subdued as everyone is all partied out during the day, especially those drinking under the hot sun. Quiet nights out at restaurants and a few drinks are often the most popular choices. Though be aware that, with many visitors in town, and the staff having often been out playing Songkran all day, the level of service in some places may not be at its best.

Of course for those with stamina the late night scene in Chiang Mai has enjoyed a recent resurgence with several bars and clubs re-opening after refurbishment – read our latest late night gay guide to Chiang Mai.

Songkran at Adams Apple Club Chiang Mai

As we get more information of special Songkran events we will update them on our Chiang Mai Gay events calendar so be sure to check back

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