April 13–15 sees the people of Thailand mark their New Year with traditional Buddhist rituals, crowded parades, modern festivities, and enough water throwing to quell numerous forest fires. The city of Chiang Mai exhibits a particularly fervent celebration with the whole city turning into a battleground for water fights.
The Songkran festival marks the end of the dry season and the water tossing serves to provide more than just laughs. April is the hottest month of the year in Thailand and getting wet is a welcome respite from the 40-degree temperatures. But more than anything, it’s an immense amount of fun. Engaging in the anarchic, joyous, hilarious water fights is some of the most fun I’ve ever had.
This chaos runs concurrently with traditional, beautiful, and serene Buddhist rituals that contrast with the wild, inescapable soakings of the water fights. One moment, worshippers are making offerings to Buddhist monks, and soon after, they’re dousing each other with ice water or jumping into one of the city’s moats. It’s an extraordinary party.