The Long Songkran Holiday
On Saturday morning I got my super soaker loaded up with ice cold water and hit the streets of Silom in Bangkok. The photo above can only partially describe what kind of mayhem took place on Friday and Saturday ( I missed out on Friday).
It’s literally a water blasting festival where anyone and everyone can get it! No one is safe from getting shot with ice cold water in their neck, back, face or ears. The area had a vast mixture of expats, tourists, Thais and people from other neighboring ASEAN nations participating in the festivities to celebrate the Thai New Year.
Songkran is an incredibly fun time of the year to travel to Thailand and I would highly recommend it if you’re thinking about coming out here. This is by far a once in a lifetime experience for any traveler.
What else? Well before getting involved in the Songkran celebrations I took a long due vacation to Koh Samui Island.
Wonderful beach breeze and cool atmosphere. My girlfriend and I stayed on a very quiet part of the Island in an area called Lamai. Mostly older couples and families were at our hotel.
Here is a closer shot of the hotel’s exclusive beach. It’s really aestechically pleasing to look at, but the downside is that the water is very shallow. How shallow you may wonder? Well, you see those rocks in the background? If you walked out to them the water would still be below your knees. This is coming from a guy who is 5ft 8in, so I’m not speaking from the perspective of some kind of giant human.
Monopoly on Flights
If you want to fly to Samui, then get ready to pay some rather exorbitant fees (for traveling short distances) to get there. Now I don’t know your current financial situation, but a flight for two people to this Island cost about $600usd. The problem with this is that Bangkok Airways has a monopoly on flights in and out of Samui Island. I don’t know why this is, but as they say… “T.I.T” (This is Thailand).
The flight took about 50 minutes to get there and we were served an in-flight meal of vegetable fried rice. All in all, it was worth it as you can’t beat that type of timing.
The other way to get to samui…
About a year to the date, I went to Samui with some of friends. We all started out as shoe-string budget travelers, so in a sense when we get together, we have no problem being frugal with our money. I take pride in being a minimalist while traveling and at the same time finding the most affordable options. So here’s what we did:
#1. Bought sleeper class train tickets to Surat Thani – 650 baht x 2 (return tickets) ($44usd)
- This ride took about 10-12 hours… It was good time spent with your friends, but it was long and if you ever do decide to travel this way make sure you get the bottom bunk! It’s absolutely crucial to your comfort. Why you may ask? Well for starters, the top bunks on the sleeper train have the lights on the whole time! The next problem is it’s freaking cold as air seems to circulate a lot more. It’s cold, the blankets are thin and the lights are peaking in the entire time. The bottom bunker is warm and cozy and you can open your window to look and see the scenery.
- You can purchase a lunch for fairly cheap, but be careful as they give you the food and drink separately. We paid for our food and there was a guy who came walking around with drinks like they were for us and even offered them to us like it was apart of our meal. As soon as we gave him the nod he punched straws into the drink sand asked us for 80 more baht($2.50), which is rather expensive for drink. I was confused, and told him we paid already and then the worst shit eating grin appeared on his face and he uttered the words “Separate, not same!” We reluctantly paid the man, but lesson learned. We should of checked first…
#2. Bus to Pier (45 minutes- 1 hour)
After being half awake, sleeping, drifting in and out of consciousness, waiting to arrive. You get off the train and get onto a bus to take you to the pier. Yes the journey is only halfway complete. It’s your typical dingy bus, that isn’t anything to brag about, but gets the job done. Aircon worked just fine and ride wasn’t too long.
#3. Boat to the Island (about 1 hour)
This wasn’t actually as bad either, I say that though because I had company with me on the boat. Maybe I would of had a different opinion had I gone by myself. There was a nice seating area on the boat where you could sit and watch tv or just chill out and relax before you got to the island. We ended up making friends with a crew of travelers from England and it made the journey go by a lot faster. As they say, time flies when you’re having fun.
#4. Taking a Songtail to your hotel
Finally! Finally! Finally! You’re ready to go to your hotel. After about 15 plus hours of traveling, including sitting around while waiting for the next part of the journey to start, you’re almost at your hotel.
The songtails are purely off the top prices. Between 4 of us the driver wanted 400
baht to take us to our hotel. When we got to our hotel, we all unpacked, and hit up Chaweng Beach.
What is better flying or travel by land?
Well it all depends on where you stand. One mode of transportation will get you there in under an hour. Let’s not forget you still have to wait at the airport before your flight leaves. Flying is by far the more preferred route if you ask me, but I wouldn’t mind a little adventure with my friends every once in a while.
If it’s a vacation for me and the wifey then I would definitely fly. If it’s going to be me and the boys, then taking the long way is no problem for me.
Songrkan is a super fun time of the year to travel and experience a celebration truly unique to it’s country. I have no problem saying that Thailand jacks a lot of good ideas and repackages them as their own. With that being said, I can confidently say that Songkran is uniquely Thai and well worth your time checking out.