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This is Songkran. The Thai New Year. The BIGGEST damn water fight in the world. And, the best place to celebrate Songkran is Chiang Mai. Why? Because there is a huge central river that goes around the walled city like a moat. Because the celebration goes on for days. Because it's next to the Tiger Kingdom! 

In April, expect temperatures of around 40deg Celsius (100+ deg Fahrenheit). It is the hottest month in Thailand. This all makes Songkran even better. You will not generally get cold, no matter how wet you get. You'll even welcome it when it happens. 

How to WIN Songkran:

1) Get a strong gun and a long lasting gun. 

2) Find a way to partially freeze the tank or insert ice cubes. 

3) Blast people away if they come at you with hoses or buckets with the strong gun, but remember you will need to reload frequently. So, a half frozen ammo tank is good. The "ICE" reaction is worth the half-ed ammo and you'll get more space as the day goes on.

4) Use your longer lasting gun, usually with a backpack, to fend people off with cold water if they're attacking.

5) Refills are everywhere. Do not be shy to go up to someone with a hose to get water. In fact, even if you're fighting them, it's cool to get refueled after (or during).

6) Be respectful, but have fun! Remember, everyone is in on the game: elderly, kids, and even cops. 

7) Don't be sore when someone gets you really good. If you're on the street. You're fair game too!

How to get to Songkran:
1) Fly to CNX airport. Chiang Mai International Airport. Show up a couple days before the celebration. It is usually celebrated around April 13-15th. 

2) Purchase some water guns. Expect the most powerful Super Soakers to be around $15-20 USD. The smaller guns can be as cheap as a buck or two. A backpack gun should be around $10-15. You can also ship them back for relatively cheap and there is a post office at the airport in case you want to keep your souvenir and have no luggage space.

3) Take a Taxi to the city and to the airport if possible. If you're riding a red cab or tuktuk you will get wet. OR, try to leave late at night. The party generally goes from 10am until 7-8pm. There isn't much water being thrown around at night since many Thais spend the celebration with family.

...That's pretty much it! There's a lot of parties and music stages. Parties are generally free. Also, expect to have your face or neck smeared with a bit of white powder. It will sometimes have some menthol or cooling agent in it. This is to ward off evil spirits and you are supposed to leave it on until it is washed off naturally, which wont take very long.

Enjoy the world's biggest water fight! It was one of my favourite festivals! 

Note: Be careful if you are prone to food poisoning. We were fine but a lot of water gets in your mouth. In fact, I even had dirty river water thrown into my smiling face. Good luck!
Dec 12 2012 00:00:00