Photos: The Songkran Water Festival in Chiang Mai

56 comments

Travel Photos: The Songkran Water Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Wow, the Thais really know how to celebrate New Year. In the US, we drink and maybe dress up a bit, then watch a ball drop from a tower. Here, they spend three days drinking, partying and dowsing each other in water. And no place does it better than Chiang Mai, where the entire city is packed with thousands of people waging friendly war on each other with water guns and buckets of ice water. Ages ranged from 2 to 90, but for three glorious days, we all acted like giddy children.

Travel Photos: The Songkran Water Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Travel Photos: The Songkran Water Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Travel Photos: The Songkran Water Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Travel Photos: The Songkran Water Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Travel Photos: The Songkran Water Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Travel Photos: The Songkran Water Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Travel Photos: The Songkran Water Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Travel Photos: The Songkran Water Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Travel Photos: The Songkran Water Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand

 

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{ 56 comments… read them below or add one }

Michael Hodson April 17, 2011 at 6:56 pm

as usual — great photos. I love the spirit that is so apparent in the kids’ eyes.

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Michael Hodson April 17, 2011 at 6:56 pm

no social media or RT buttons on your posts??

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ayngelina April 17, 2011 at 10:50 pm

Oh how I miss the peace/V for photos, really nice upbeat photos Wes.

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wes April 18, 2011 at 2:23 pm

Thank you Ayngelina!

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Eva Gill April 17, 2011 at 10:53 pm

Excellent shots! We’re in Bangkok ~ I was afraid to take my camera out for Songkran (good, because I was soaked through and covered in chalk for days…) love your photos.

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wes April 18, 2011 at 2:23 pm

Yeah it was nerve-wracking. Didn’t shoot nearly as much as I’d liked but made up for it by having crazy fun slinging water.

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Frank Hansen April 18, 2011 at 1:13 am

Happy songkran!

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wes April 18, 2011 at 2:22 pm

Happy songkran! Thanks.

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Stephen April 18, 2011 at 7:04 am

Nice photos! I celebrated on Ko Phi Phi-things got a little crazy but it was a majority of foreigners celebrating. Happy Songkran!

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wes April 18, 2011 at 2:21 pm

Happy Songkran! Glad you got to have some fun.

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Christy @ Technosyncratic April 18, 2011 at 9:21 am

I love the one of the girl spraying water in the face of the guy sitting next to her… so playful! This celebration looks like a blast. :)

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wes April 18, 2011 at 2:21 pm

She was hilarious and a total backstabber. She doused me with several buckets even though we were on the same team.

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Nomadic Chick April 18, 2011 at 10:29 am

I really feel how energetic and fun those 3 days were.

Loving this new format, it really lends a nice presentation to your photos. What camera are you using? I’m thinking of shopping around for a new one and okay, maybe I want to be you (talented photographer). And how did you manage to not get your camera soaked?

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wes April 18, 2011 at 2:20 pm

Thanks, Jeannie! I’m shooting a Canon 550D, (Rebel T2i in the US). I’ve really been happy with it. Would love a full-frame body and fancy lenses, of course, but it’s not gonna happen anytime soon. I would have loved to shoot more during Songkran, but was really worried about the equipment. My waterproof housing was a plastic bag from 7-11, wrapped around the camera and held with a rubber band ;)

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Faisal Admar March 19, 2013 at 4:16 am

Wow! I really have no idea on how to wrap camera with plastic. I should learn this as I want to take pictures of Songkran badly! :)

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Juno April 18, 2011 at 2:27 pm

Nice! It’s really active. I love the layout of photos too. Shame I just missed that! But I read many Songkaran celebrations through blogger friends. What a nice world. :) Happy Songkaran Johnny!

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wes April 19, 2011 at 11:35 am

Happy Songkran, Juno! Thanks for the RTs too :)

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Matt April 18, 2011 at 4:11 pm

Wes, great photos as always. These make me yearn to be back in Thailand, and I’m loving NZ at the moment. I stumbled it and was getting ready to write my comment, “Fantastic photos as always from Wes,” and noticed @Ayngelina’s comment was, “Stunning photos as always from Wes.” :-) Safe travels mate

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wes April 19, 2011 at 11:36 am

Ha! Thanks, brother. Have fun out there.

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Leslie (Downtown Traveler) April 18, 2011 at 8:35 pm

Amazing photos! This looks like so much fun. I wanna go!

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wes April 19, 2011 at 11:36 am

Next year! I really can’t recommend it enough.

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Casa de Hamilton Pool April 18, 2011 at 10:53 pm

great stuff!

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Gilly Stuart April 18, 2011 at 10:54 pm

Fab pix… Was in Chiang Mai too and this really captures the essence of the festival. A lot more playful in Chiang Mai than Bangkok in my opinion. Everyone gets involved!

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wes April 19, 2011 at 11:37 am

Agreed. It’s hilarious having a 60 year old woman pour a bucket down your back.

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Rouillie Wilkerson April 19, 2011 at 3:24 am

Great job capturing the feel and flavor of a local celebration, with a modern eye.

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wes April 19, 2011 at 11:37 am

Thank you :)

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Amanda April 19, 2011 at 5:25 am

Great photos! You really seem to have captured the spirit of the event. And everything is so colorful! It looks like a lot of (soggy) fun.

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wes April 19, 2011 at 11:35 am

It’s a blast. I wish I’d taken more photos but was having too much fun.

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Roman April 19, 2011 at 9:11 pm

Nacho Libre masks and super soakers! That is my kind of party! Great photos

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Ted Nelson April 20, 2011 at 12:13 am

I love Chiang Mai. Planned to stay four days there and ended up there for two weeks. I can only imagine how awesome it is during Songkran. Looks like an incredible time.

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wes April 20, 2011 at 9:17 am

Beautiful town, isn’t it?

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Sarah Got A Passport April 20, 2011 at 9:26 am

Great pics! The guys with the masks and water guns looked hardcore :)

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wes April 20, 2011 at 11:47 am

They were!

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Randy April 20, 2011 at 9:56 am

Very cool! Nice Shots Wes. The celebration looks like a lot of fun. My fingers are crossed that Beth and I might be in Chiang Mai for the holiday.

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wes April 20, 2011 at 11:48 am

Thanks, Randy. You won’t regret it, I promise.

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Kyle April 20, 2011 at 11:04 am

So much life and movement in these shots!

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wes April 20, 2011 at 11:49 am

Thanks so much, Kyle. It’s hard to take a bad photo during the event.

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Natalka April 20, 2011 at 11:09 am

You’re an amazing photographer! Love them all

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wes April 20, 2011 at 11:49 am

Thanks so much :)

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Kevin April 20, 2011 at 11:12 am

Daring to get so close with such a nice camera! A rain cape is a nice substitute for that plastic bag that is still not expensive like a housing (overkill) but pretty effective for non-submersion water protection. But hey, whatever works!

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Theodora April 20, 2011 at 5:06 pm

Love this! I’ve always wanted to do Songkran, but never been in the right place. This really catches the spirit of it, for me. Must have been soooo much fun.

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wes April 20, 2011 at 8:19 pm

Next year! I suspect I’ll be back.

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Dave April 20, 2011 at 6:35 pm

Great shots Wes. That second truck one takes me right back to the action. Next time we will have to rent a truck. Great meeting you over the past few weeks.

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wes April 20, 2011 at 8:19 pm

Dude, I totally agree on the truck (or an open-top tuktuk. I had so much fun — huge thanks to you and Jessee for being part of it.

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Frances April 21, 2011 at 3:30 am

Great pictures! We should totally do that here in the US! In fact…I think I will have a water fight new years party…XD Thanks for the idea and the pictures!

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wes April 21, 2011 at 8:35 am

Ha! That sounds like fun :)

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Tara April 21, 2011 at 4:46 pm

Awesome Wes! The best Songkran photo collection I’ve seen… it’s like I was there… hey, wait a minute!

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wes April 28, 2011 at 8:13 am

Ha! And I think you were the only person who *didn’t* put a bucket of water down my back. Good on ya :)

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The GypsyNesters April 22, 2011 at 5:27 am

This is the coolest thing – so much color – I love that. In the photo with the truck, where is the water coming from? It’s amazing how you caught every chaotic droplet! -Veronica

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wes April 27, 2011 at 9:28 pm

That’s a full-on bucket war. They have barrels of ice water in the truck and are just sling it out as fast as they can. It’s a bit crazy.

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Rebecca April 23, 2011 at 8:42 am

Great photos – as always! I just arrived in CM and am so disappointed to have missed the festival. By the way, I think I may have seen you on Thursday night walking away from the Night Bazaar area! I wasn’t quite sure though…

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Bodlagz April 23, 2011 at 9:18 am

Great photos Johnny, Been promising myself a new waterproof camera for the last 2 Songkrans, your pics have inspired me, next year for sure.

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wes April 27, 2011 at 9:29 pm

Nice! Do it!

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Matt | ExpertVagabond April 24, 2011 at 6:02 am

Cool shots! Looks like crazy fun. Glad your camera survived the assault. :)

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wes April 27, 2011 at 9:29 pm

Thanks, Matt — there were some close calls. My iPhone didn’t fair as well…

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Laura April 26, 2011 at 6:48 pm

Really cool photos! I want to be in Thailand for Songkran one day!

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