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I am traveling to Thailand and my 30 day visa ends on April 12. This site says Songkran runs from April 13 - 15 this year.

It would cost $80 to extend the visa, and I can't move the date we enter Thailand because of another visa ending. I'd like to experience Songkran if possible.

It looks like Laos and Cambodia also celebrate their new year around the same time. If we make it to Luang Prabang by the 13th, is there a similar atmosphere for the Lao new year?

EDIT: A visa run isn't an option because I already plan to return twice more within six months.

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We are giving Luang Prabang a go for the new year, I'll report back my experience. –  jjeaton Apr 5 '12 at 3:49

3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

I can't comment on Laos as I've never been there for Songkran/New Year (although it is probably my favorite place on the planet otherwise!), however...

I was in Bangkok during Songkran several years ago (2004 I think), and it was an amazing atmosphere and experience, especially around Khao San Road. If you're in a different part of the country there will still be some form of celebration, but it's not as intense as in Bangkok/Khao San Road.

Whether it's worth the extra money to you is obviously not a question I can answer, but if it were me I would be handing over the $80 in an instant!

Keep in mind that logistically things can be a little more difficult during/around Songkran, especially if you're staying around Khao San Road. Roads are closed/blocked, and even taxis/tuk-tuks/etc will not be able to get through so you may end up having to walk the last few blocks to/from your hotel - with the real possibility of getting very wet in the process (although people are generally respectful of people with luggage/etc, there's always collateral damage to worry about...)

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I ended up going to Luang Prabang for Lao New Year, and it was an awesome experience. From what I've heard of Songkran, it seems the atmosphere is very similar. 3 days of getting absolutely soaked with water from buckets, squirt guns and hoses and being covered in corn starch, black, orange and red food coloring. There were parades, a Miss Lao event, stupa building on the beach, etc. The best part was the little kids who absolutely loved soaking you in water.

I would recommend it to anyone who wants to experience a new year event.

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I just can't imaging Luang Prabang and Songkran together. LP is normally such a laid-back, relaxed place. Songkran is the exact opposite! Glad you had a good time! :) –  Doc Apr 23 '12 at 5:54
    
Yes it was definitely much different during the new year. –  jjeaton Apr 24 '12 at 0:27

I know this is past now (sorry I didn't see it). However, Chiang Mai's Song Kran has to be experienced to be believed - so sorry you missed it (I didn't - again - but then I live here :D)

What you should have done was to do the Visa Run - there are no rules about returning within 6 months (there was an old rule about no more than 3 back to back walk-over the border visa waivers - but that was abolished at least 5 years ago - and a flight would have nulled that affect anyway). You would have got 15 days extension on your entry permit (not visa - just a visa waiver). This would have cost you a day trip to Myanmar (Burma) via Mae Sai (trip in VIP air con coach about 400 baht first class seat + 15 baht (fixed price) songthaew to the border) and 500 baht visa waiver in Burma (or ten dollars US) - plenty of shopping to be had there too (market and duty free).

Alternatively you could have overstayed (a risk) and paid the fine on leaving - I think it's a 1000 baht a day up to 20,000 baht (but if the cops catch you, you also get a day in prison for each day overstayed, so visa run is best).

If you had a Visa (60 day), you could have extended it 30 days at immigration (very friendly in Chiang Mai and used to tourists).

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Don't worry, Songkran comes every single year and questions and answers here are for the ages so everybody can benefit, not just the original poster of the question. –  hippietrail Sep 18 '13 at 13:58

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