Put down that watergun and check out these options by Wiwat Patcharinsak and Alisara Chirapongse.

Songkran is a uniquely Thai tradition with as many ways to celebrate it as there are colors in the rainbow. If you’re really anxious to get started, head to www.songkran.net right away and start some cyber splashing. For some more exciting options, turn off your computer and read on while Saransri Prawatpattanakul has the know-how on essential equipment before leaving for the front.

Try Traditional

Traditionally, Songkran is the day you spend time with your family and pay respect to your elders, but if you really want to get into the holiness of the holiday, you might want to start at Sanam Luang. There will be a celebration co-organized by the TAT and BMA, Apr 8-15. On Apr 12, the Phra Buddha Sihing will be delivered to Sanam Luang and open for ritual bathing.

Though it’s better known for consumerism than culture, another option is the Suan Lum Night Bazaar Apr 12-16 for its International Songkran Festival 2007. It’s B250 per day (www.thaiticketmaster.com) and includes all the traditional Songkran happenings, like a holy bath for the Buddha image, building a sand pagoda, traditional dance shows and an OTOP sale.

Making merit at Wat Arun, a.k.a. Temple of the Dawn, (34 Arun Ammarin Rd., 02-465-7740, 02-462-3762) is a particularly auspicious way to greet the new dawn of the New Year. If you really need to rack up some good graces for 2550, join Chao Phaya Trip: Wai Phra Kao Wat (B199), a guided boat trip to nine wats throughout the city (details at www.thaiticketmaster.com).

Playin’ Posh

This year, instead of celebrating by doing things that are bad for your body (getting drunk, staying out all night in wet clothes, dirty water, dirty people), pick a place where you’ll be pampered.

Wine isn’t just good for a buzz—it can also be therapeutic for your skin, too. At Flore Pleno (571, 2/F, Fenix Tower, Sukhumvit Soi 31, 02-662-2621. Open daily 11am-9pm. Book two days in advance), tell ‘em you want to try the Tropical Wine Spa Delight (B3,000): 120 minutes in a bathtub full of wine. (Remember: red with meat, white with fish.)

Prefer something non-alcoholic? You can dip your body in tea at Spa of Qinera (172/1 Soi Pipat 2, Narathiwat Ratchanakarin Rd., 02-636-8306/-8. Open daily 10am-10pm) with the Herbal Tea Bath (B500/45 minutes), which tightens and refreshes your skin. Alternatively, have a calming Chromotherapy Bath (B900/30 minutes) in Red Roselle juice at Devarana Spa (9/F, The Dusit Thani, 946 Rama 4 Rd., 02-636-3596. Open daily 9am-10pm).

For more general spa treatments, Spa Herbnara (117/8, 5/F Pranjit Tower, Thonglor, 02-712-9509. Open daily 9:30am-9:30pm) offers three tempting Songkran Festival Packages (B1,000-1,200), each with a soothing body scrub and/or massage.

Another way to get close to water without letting someone splash you is on a dinner cruise. (Getting to the pier is your problem.) The Manohra Special Songkran Dining Cruise (B1,900, 02-477-0770) takes you by Wat Arun and the Grand Palace and includes exotic drinks, an eight-course Thai seafood meal and a Thai silk souvenir for every couple.

Cleanse Your Body and Soul

Forget water for a second and do some cleaning on a more spiritual level. Choose from either overnight or day classes at the Sathira-Dhammasathan (B200, 24/5 Watcharaphol, Ram Indra Soi 55, 02-510-6697. Open daily 8-am-5pm) holistic center with Mae Chee Sansanee. Another option is a three-day, three-times-a-day deal at the International Buddhist Meditation Center (Dhamma Vicaya Hall, Wat Mahathat, Na Phara Lan Rd., 02-222-6011. Open daily 8am-6pm).

Usually it’s your skin that gets wet on Songkran, but what about what’s on the inside? Colonic Hydrotherapy (B3,300) by Hydrohealth (4/F Erawan Bangkok, Ploenchit Rd., 02-250-7800. Open daily 10am-9pm) will flush you out so you can start the New Year with a toxin-free body. Water can also be used for a very special massage (not the Ratchada kind): Aqua Acupressure Massage (B4,500/session) at S Medical Spa (2/2 Phakdi Bldg., Wireless Rd., 02-253-1010. Open daily 10am-10pm) will have you floating about for the ultimate in deep stretching and relaxation. For something a little bit more intense, sign up for a 7-Day Detoxification Program (B13,000-B18,000) at Absolute Wellness by Rasayana Retreat (4/F, Amarin Plaza, Ploenchit Rd., 02-252-4404. Open Mon-Thu 11am-8pm, Fri-Sun 11am-6pm), which includes three to five colonic hydrotherapy treatments to wash your body to new levels of energy and balance.

Spendy Songkran

Why do you need to fly off to Hong Kong or Europe for a shopping spree? (Besides, you’re way too late to book a seat.) Instead support your local department store chains by taking advantage of this year’s monthly “shocking” sales. But get some expert advice, will ya? In Bangkok we have the choice of personal shoppers (Central Chit Lom, Ratchadamri Rd., 02-793-7044), personal stylists (The Emporium, Sukhumvit 24, 02-269-1000 ext 1336. Thu and Sun 10am-6pm) and lifestyle consultants (Gaysorn Shopping Center, Ratchadamri Rd., 02-656-1177), who can help you change your look if that’s what you want. Mind you that they need to be booked in advance.

Wet Yourself

Be an Xtreme fiend and wet yourself (sweat, we mean) this New Year. Head to the PTT Speedway (RCA, 02-203-1205. www.kartingstadium.com) for some serious indoor go-cart action.

Another cool way to escape the water is to get your grippy gear on and scale the heights at ProClimber (391/11 Soi Thanon Chan 42, Wat Phrayakrai, Bang Kor Laem, 02-211-5053. www.proclimberthailand.com). With a fake cliff adorned with handholds, this is a good place to get high with convenience, comfort and safety. Their climbing wall is a great place for beginners or curious climbers who are not ready for a free-falling death this Songkran.

If you want to stay cool but still get a thrill, here are two suggestions. One, dive with the sharks at Siam Ocean World (B5,300-6,300, B1-B2/F, 991 Siam Paragon, Rama 1 Rd., 02-687-2000. Open daily 9am-6pm) and see how exciting life can be breathing underwater. Or escape from the heat inside SubZero (4/F The Esplanade, 99 Ratchadapisek Rd., 02-354-2134. Open daily 11-1am), the recently opened ice skating park.

The In-Crowd

Don’t be afraid to go out. Come on: what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. How many chances do urbanites get to bond with complete strangers? OK, OK, you’ve made your mind up. Home it is. For you cats who are afraid of water but were too lazy or cheap to book a flight out of town, there is always the barricade-yourself-in-your-flat-and-order-in option. So you won’t die of starvation, order from Jae Kee (02-655-8489, 7am-9:30pm) for Thai, JJ Delivery (02-712-3000, 9:30am-9pm, www.jjdelivery.com) for international dishes or from Pizzanotti (1344, 10:30am-9:30pm) for some edible pizza.

Bargain hunting for pirated movies on the street is too dangerous, so take a cab to Blockbuster (Sukhumvit 33/1, 02-662-1320. Open daily 10am-midnight), where you can rent new releases or buy old ones cheap. Membership is B300 but that’s the price you pay for dryness. At B199, the competition is a bit cheaper; visit Tsutaya (Try President Park, Sukhumvit 24, 02-661-1094. Open daily 10-1am) and rent Waterworld or The Waterboy.

Or how’ bout reading? You’ll need to plan ahead as books and water aren’t the best of friends. Ignore those idiots having fun, put on your thick glasses, and repeat after me, “I am a nerd, I hate fun, and I am proud.” Books Kinokuniya (www.kinokuniya.com) has just reduced the burden of human interaction with its online shop that offers the same selection as the physical stores. Unfortunately, they do not accept credit cards. If that’s a problem, you might want to try Asia Books (www.asiabooks.com) instead. If you want Thai books, log on to the Chula Bookstore (www.chulabook.com). They deliver even faster than the big chains, and all you have to do is pay the delivery boy, just like Pizza Hut.

This Means War

OK, OK, all you really want to do is splash around like there’s no tomorrow. Well, if you’re going to go into battle, be prepared. Getting soaked all day long and hanging around in a damp shirt can lead to sickness, so having the right top is important. Get smart and wear a fast-drying T from Equinox Extreme Shop (B 590-1,250. 3/F, Siam Discovery Center, 02-258-0340. Open daily 10am-10pm).

At the same shop, you can get a waterproof bag for your mobile phone from Aquapac (B950 and B1,200). Other valuables can be kept dry in a waterproof sack from Pro Cam-Fis (B450, 3/F, Siam Discovery Center, 02-658-0314/5. Open daily 10am-10pm).

Now you’re ready to jump in, but you’ll need a weapon along with your defenses. Water guns will be everywhere, but for the best selection and prices, hit Yaowarat (see page 12). Where to go? The first stop is Khao San Road, where the fun runs from noon until midnight. This is the place to fight with backpackers, Thai teens and many tipsy people. Gropers are out in abundance here, so girls, beware of your boobs, and guys, mind your package.

Had too much of those kids and farang? Get yourself to RCA (Rama 9 Rd.) or Silom Soi 4 from 8pm onwards. On RCA you’ll get to meet many hotties with buckets cruising the strip. Fortunately you can escape just by going indoors: most bars and clubs on the strip have very tight rules outlawing water play once you cross the threshhold. If you want to experience armageddon, (attempt to) run the gauntlet of Silom Soi 4, a dead-end alley with the most interesting and diverse crowd in town. (Homophobes, stay home!)


Leave a Comment