Gallery: Wet and wild during Songkran in Bangkok

Gallery: Wet and wild during Songkran in Bangkok

As Bangkokians celebrate the Thai new year, we check out the fun and offer some valuable tips to keep in mind before you step into the fray

Despite the weekend violence that led to Bangkok's official Songkran ceremonies being cancelled, the traditional Thai new year water fights are in full swing in the city this week.

Everyone from protesting red shirts to backpacking tourists are getting in on the Thai new year water fights. Here are a few photos of this year’s Songkran splashing, which will continue through the week. Thinking about joining the fun? Check out our tips to keep in mind before you head into the battle, right after the gallery.

A Thai man squirts water into the crowd during the Songkran festival to mark Thailand's new year in Bangkok on April 13.Songkran marks the summer season in Thailand, where families and friends celebrate the festival by visiting temples and splashing water on each other as an act of wishing good luck.Despite the weekend violence that left 21 dead, protesting red shirts are holding their own Songkran celebrations at the protest sites. Songkran is one of the most anticipated holidays of the year for Thailand's kids, eager to take part in the nation-wide water fights. A red shirt anti government protestor sprays water into the crowd during the Songkran festival.Wiping wet baby powder on fellow Songkran revelers is a big part of the Songkran celebrations, though it's banned on Khao San Road. On Khao San Road, tourists and Thais are engaging in full-on water fights this week as part of the Songkran holiday. April is usually Thailand's hottest month of the year, which makes the Songkran water fights a welcome way to beat the heat. As you'll see in our tips section below, wearing goggles might look ridiculous but at least your eyes will stay clean. Man vs beast takes on a whole new meaning on Khao San Road. We think the elephant has the upper hand in this water battle. Though many tourists were reportedly scared off by Saturday night's clashes between troops and red shirt protesters, those who stuck around were more than eager to take part in the traditional Thai holiday. Khao San Road and Silom are the two most popular areas for Songkran celebrations, but revelers can be found splashing water on streets all over the city.

If you're not a Songkran veteran, here are four things to keep in mind before you head out onto the streets.

1. Rules of engagement

There aren’t any formalities when it comes to the Songkran water fights, but there are some things to remember. Fight with clean water, either tap water or the popular large white jugs of water. Hot water will obviously not be appreciated (room temperature is fine) and most people won't get angry if you pour ice cold water on them given how hot it is outside -- as long as there are no chunks of ice of course. Throwing ice is a big no-no, but you can always pour a few cubes down your friend's t-shirt!

You can fight with water pistols (or in some cases, huge water guns), water buckets (big or small), plastic cups (avoid glasses, obviously) or even garden hoses, but be aware that highly pressured guns or pipes are prohibited, as they're deemed dangerous. They will be confiscated and a hefty fine might be issued. Most people who have entered the fighting areas are fair game, but try not to shoot them in their eyes as it is dangerous and irritating.

2. Avoid wet powder

Although allowing someone to apply wet powder to your face is considered a nice way to experience Songkran, staying with you as a nice little ‘blessing’ even after your clothes have dried, be warned. You may get some pimples after the water has stopped splashing, as some of those hands that are touching you aren't so clean, and the powder can clog your pores.

It’s also the number one reason the fights escalate from water to fists, as some people’s hands can get a bit too heavy. If you have a dry bag or a free hand, we recommend carrying a bottle of clean water to wash the powder off with afterwards. If you want to totally avoid wet powder, go to Khao San road as it’s prohibited there.

3. Dress properly

If you’re out in the Songkran battlefields, it’s inevitable -- you’re going to get soaked to the skin so dressing properly will save you a lot of worry. First, don't wear white, unless you're confident about what lies beneath those clothes. Even so, some swim wear underneath may be a good idea to protect what little dignity remains after you've been pressure-hosed by an elephant. 

But don't wear thick fabrics like jeans, as they will get really heavy and uncomfortable when they're wet. Basically, dress as if you’re going to the beach. T-shirts, board shorts and rubber sandals will do fine. We also highly recommend swimming goggles, as sometimes the water splashed into your face is not clean and could led to irritations and infections. Also, you won't be able to see things clearly when you're constantly getting splashed.

You’ll look a bit foolish, but who cares. At least you’ll save yourself from walking into oncoming traffic.

4. Bring a waterproof bag

If you're planning to head out into the action, put your electronics and valuables in a waterproof bag. Even a Ziploc or plastic waterproof pouch will do. Most plastic waterproof pouches will have a neckstrap for your convenience too.

Be aware of snatchers and pickpockets in crowded areas though; hide your bag inside your shirt or buttoned pocket if possible. For heavy action, we recommend that you bring something tougher, like a five liter diving pouch, which costs less than 500 baht in any Bangkok department store. Put a towel in there too, as it really comes in handy when the splashing is over. Trust us, taxis really appreciate that you're not hopping into their cars dripping wet.

Than is probably the youngest contributor to CNNGo Bangkok. He’s armed with a bachelor in telecommunications engineering and is pursuing a master's in entrepreneurship. He has been blogging personally for a few years, generally rants on whatever in his life at the moment. On CNNGo, he usually writes pieces on partying, playing, backpacking, some interviews, and whatever Bangkok kids are doing.

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