The last day of 2019’s Songkran in Pattaya, the 19th was as usual the biggest, with Thais having the day off and most businesses closing for the water festival. In the side sois away from the Beach Road-Second Road-Buakhow circle it was a common sight to see a pickup truck playing traditional music for people gathered drinking and playing. As usual the most boisterous activities happened throughout the week of 13-19 April with Sois 6, 7, and 8 off Beach Road in particular. Pattaya has the longest Songkran festival of anywhere in Thailand and this year it attracted many tourists with this year Asian tourists from China, Japan and Korea making up a larger contingent as Russian and Eastern Europe numbers fall, relatively speaking with previous years.
If you have never been to the Songkran at Soi 6, it features buckets, hoses, water guns and music as well as the traditional face painting for good luck in the new year. On Soi 6, the girls don’t bother with makeup which may shock you if you are used to the “normal” presentation on the Soi. Entering the street you are guaranteed to get soaked even if you are on a motorbike. Some cruel people will deliberately aim ice water at your face. So before going to the party it is highly recommended to obtain a waterproof bag for your phone (these can be easily obtained everywhere for less than 100 baht)and other sensitive items. It’s not uncommon to have respiratory tract or eye infections as the water quality can sometimes be not the best. If you are concerned it is possible to buy protective eyewear and a mask to prevent ingress.
Walking Street is somewhat less affected as it is an unspoken rule that water fights finish after sunset. In addition Walking Street is more of a tourist magnet with group tours being particularly prevalent. In addition, many popular bars on Walking Street chose to close on 18-19 April due to releasing staff to spend the time as a holiday. This is only 2 days out of a 9 day period but worth noting if planning a holiday around a short period of time as you may want to maximise your time to visit the nightlife areas. Generally speaking many people are tired of Songkran fighting within a couple of days so the full period is not required to get the most enjoyment. If possible try to include the last day in your itinerary as the party includes all the local Thais who have the day off to celebrate meaning there are much more people on the street and literally the whole city becomes a water party.
Soi 6 bars were almost entirely open throughout the Songkran period although staff levels varied throughout the day as people took time off to recover. Typical bars open around 12pm or 14.00 and everyone participates in the water fights, throughout the day vehicles come and go delivering water and ice supplies. One thing to note is that if you need to use the bathroom, water pressure can sometimes be impacted by the unreliable plumbing. Usually by 18.00 as the evening turned to night, staff were cleaning out waterlogged bars and taking down protective sheets. The girls take time to recover, eat and do their make up. During the night activities continue as usual although of course, during the day drinking and playing water can take a toll.
Overall, visiting Pattaya during Songkran combines many of the advantages of low season (prices) and a unique tourism event. In 2019 the weather was very hot and dry but fortunately there were only a few thunderstorms and rain periods. With tourist numbers increasing every year, it is highly recommended to try visiting on the last day of Songkran to experience a more “Thai” feeling, as many popular places to water fight can be dominated by visitors during the week.