The Thai New Year Festival, Songkran, is now held every between the 13-15 of April and though it has deep Buddhist and even ancient pagan roots, these days it has degenerated into a massive nation-wide water fight.
The sprinkling of water was originally the blessing of the elders and forgiveness for all presumptuous behaviour on the part of the young. Now for three days it’s become a free-for-all with buckets of ice water, water pistols and hosepipes in full force, celebrating the end of the hot, dry season and inviting plentiful rains.
Bangkok gets quite empty around this time as people return home to visit their families and conduct the necessary Buddhist rituals such as cleaning the Buddha statues (some are paraded by car to be soaked by revelers) and bringing piles of sand to the temple to replace all the earth that they carried away on their feet throughout the year. So Chiang Mai has become a favourite place to engage in the water wars.
Foreigners are fully welcome to take part and will be soaked as a matter of course, regardless of what they think about it. And whilst water throwing is only allowed for three days within city limits, out in the countryside the kids will go for motorists for weeks beforehand, often targeting the spark plug so that they can really get them.
Head up to Chiang Mai or your favourite Thai village and get drunk for three days and engage in the biggest water fight in the world.