Songkran is a fun time in Thailand and has to be experienced at least once in your lifetime, but if you end up six foot under or in an intensive care unit during Songkran it will not be so much fun.
259 people died on the roads during last year’s 2016 Songkran celebration; as well as 2,378 people ending up being injured. We’re not talking about sprained ankles, bumps and bruises when we mention the injured over Songkran – it’s more like crushed rib cages, cracked skulls and fractured spines; so below are some tips on how to stay safe during the Songkran period.
Avoiding traveling on the roads during Songkran is a no-brainer, but nevertheless the best way to avoid being in traffic accidents. Therefore, planning to take a few days off work either side of the Songkran period makes a lot of sense, as you can travel to the destination of your choice and back outside of the ‘seven deadly days’. Also, make sure you avoid ending up on the back of a truck; although random events will surely greet you in Songkran, so make sure you resolutely make a promise to yourself not to end up on the back of a pick up truck. No matter how tipsy you are from those Leo beers, do not get into any vehicle.
Another way you may end up a death statistic is if you use motorbike taxis during Songkran. So stay local, by joining in celebrations near your home, resort or hotel where you are staying. Do not listen to holiday maker’s naive generalizations when they say “Motorbike taxis are safe”. They are just people driving motorbikes in orange jackets, they are no different from any other motorbike riders as they have had no special training, with the only advantage being that they may have more experience and time spent on the road. You really don’t need to travel too far from where you are staying.
Reduce the Randomness
If you have a Thai partner, there will be less planning and more spontaneous events happening at Songkran. Half the time you will not know who will turn up, where you will end up or even when you will end up there. Thais are more spontaneous than more forward planning westerners for example, which is great in a lot of situations, as westerners tend to think ahead too much at times. However, Songkran should be a time for forward planning and thinking to ensure you and your partner’s safety. So sit your partner down and set a few ground rules for safety – such as, we will not travel in anyone’s vehicle, we will stay local and only have water fights in safe areas where both of us feel comfortable.
Buy Some Condoms
No, we don’t mean using the Songkran break to go on hedonistic pursuits of pleasure when we advise you to buy a pack of condoms. Condoms can be used for protection . . . for your phone. That’s right, just slip a condom over your iPhone, Samsung or alternative brand smart phone and voila! By tying a knot you now have water tight protection for when you get soaked through. The only drawback being that if your phone rings you will appear to be talking to a condom, which will make a great talking point.
Driving at Songkran
Except for driving more slowly and carefully, if you chose to drive over Songkran you will be at risk, but it will be better than riding a motorbike. If you ride a motorbike or go on the back of one over Songkran then it will be your own fault if you end up in an ICU unit. If you hire out a motorbike in a busy tourist area over Songkran, you may as well make a reservation in advance with the hospital where you’d like to end up or have your corpse dumped off at. Songteaw drivers get around 300 baht per dead body they pick up off the roads in tourist areas like Pattaya for instance, so it’s a profitable time for them. Yes, they will just pull up, throw your body into the back of their songteaw and drive to the designated corpse drop off zone.
Fights can break out when someone gets a bit carried away when applying powder over another guy’s girlfriend, so move away if trouble starts to flare up. Avoid groups that throw ice as well as water at each other or groups of tourists who are using high powered water guns; some tourists go OTT at Songkran, treating it as a ‘water fight’ rather than a fun time splashing water over each other. Also, beware of pickpockets as they will have an easy time lifting your wallet while you are being distracted.
Relax and Enjoy Yourself
When you have made sure that you are as safe as you can be, then that is the best you can do, so just relax and enjoy Songkran. Stay local, stay off the roads and you can’t do much more to respect your own personal safety and others than that.
The Ultimate Tactic
If you are looking for a way to stay 100% safe then just go to any 7/11, stock up on frozen quick meals, drinks and supplies ahead of time, then simply lock the gate or your door and stay home. You can always pop out and celebrate locally with your neighbors for a few hours at any time anyhow.