Photo Essay – Songkran Festival, Chiang Mai, Thailand (Part 1 of 2)

The official dates of this year’s Songkran (aka. Thai New Year) were April 13-15, but they got underway a day early in Chiang Mai.  Anyone backpacking or flashpacking through Thailand in April should make every effort to take part in the festival.  Even though it’s known locally as the “seven dangerous days” due to the accidents and deaths that happen during this period, it isn’t anything you should be too concerned with as long as you stay off your motorbike during the festival.  Having a bucket of ice water thrown at your face while riding down the street isn’t exactly the safest activity.

This photo essay is on the water aspect of the festival.  Next week’s photo essay will also be from Songkran but will focus on some of the more cultural activities that took place, including the parade and alms ceremonies in Chiang Mai.  Remember to click on the images to see them at full size.

Busy Street during Songkran in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Busy Street during Songkran in Chiang Mai, Thailand

BThe corner near Tae Pae Gate filled with soaking wet locals and travelers.

The corner near Tae Pae Gate filled with soaking wet locals and travelers.

Thai locals mixed with backpackers, flashpackers and tourists - all are welcome at Songkran.

Thai locals mixed with backpackers, flashpackers and tourists - all are welcome at Songkran.

Buckets and arms for the water fights.  Most locals come prepared but these are ready for unarmed flashpackers.

Buckets and arms for the water fights. Most locals come prepared but these are ready for unarmed flashpackers.

Blocks of ice ready to sell and load onto the trucks

Blocks of ice ready to sell and load onto the trucks

What's the easiest place to refill? The moat of course!

What's the easiest place to refill? The moat of course!

You can see why the outside of the moats are the best place to get wet - easy access to water.

You can see why the outside of the moats are the best place to get wet - easy access to water.

A truck full of locals pulls through an area packed with foreigners.

A truck full of locals pulls through an area packed with foreigners.

A water demon douses a passing motorist.

A water demon douses a passing motorist.

A good example of why you must pay attention to your surroundings!

A good example of why you must pay attention to your surroundings!

The reactions after passing through a gauntlet of water throwers.

The reactions after passing through a gauntlet of water throwers.

An alley ambush!

An alley ambush!

This tuk tuk tried to speed through this attack and almost made it.

This tuk tuk tried to speed through this attack and almost made it.

Kids going after a passing tuk tuk

Kids going after a passing tuk tuk

Buckets vs water guns.

Buckets vs water guns.

A gang of kids ready to take on passing pedestrians

A gang of kids ready to take on passing pedestrians

The two are learning the intricacies of their water guns and getting practice in for next year.

The two are learning the intricacies of their water guns and getting practice in for next year.

Songkran is certainly a festival for all ages. These four ride in the back of a truck with the rest of their family.

Songkran is certainly a festival for all ages. These four ride in the back of a truck with the rest of their family.

This little girl defends the shop front all by her self.

This little girl defends the shop front all by her self.

A dozen or so people can fit in the back of the pickups that slowly make their way around the city.

A dozen or so people can fit in the back of the pickups that slowly make their way around the city.

A few of my companions for the festivites - Including Micah, Jodi from Legal Nomads and Shannon from A Little Adrift.

A few of my companions for the festivites - Including Micah, Jodi from Legal Nomads and Shannon from A Little Adrift.

  • Anonymous

    Wow! This is a great photo review for me from Bangkok.
    All nice shot Travis. Looking forward to more photos.

    Cheers,

    • Anonymous

      Thanks!  Appreciate the great response :)

      -T

      • himdoy

        That’s all nice shot …Very skilled photography

        I am Chiangmai people..

  • http://cruisesurfingz.com roy | cruisesurfingz

    Damn, that looks like lots of fun!!

    • Anonymous

      It was a complete and total blast!  Get out there – only a few more months until this year’s festival

  • Mike

    How did you keep your camera dry? That seemed like a huge challenge.

    • http://www.flashpackerhq.com Travis Ball

      A rain sleeve (long, plastic tube), rubber bands and tape. Wish I’d taken as much precaution for the iphone as I did for the camera :P

    • Anonymous

      I had something called a rainsleeve on, basically a long, tubular piece of plastic that I can put my hands into and has a hole that goes over the eye piece.  Used some rubber bands to ensure it kept tight.  

      The whole thing worked pretty well.

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