Songkran celebrations overflowed across Thailand Thursday, Bangkok police actually shutting off access to the Khao San Songkran party due to overcrowding.
Popular waterplay zones across the country, from Soi 6 in Pattaya to Silom Road in Bangkok to Bangla Road in Phuket, were packed with Thais and foreigners splashing and shooting each other with water guns until long after sunset.
No place, however, was more crowded than the Khao San Songkran party, the popular backpacker alleyway in Phra Nakhon District known for its vibrant atmosphere.
About 7 p.m., access to Khao San Songkran was limited by due to overcrowding that exemplified what authorities feared during Songkran 2020-22 during the Covid-19 pandemic: Wall-to-wall people, shoulder-to-shoulder.
At 8:50 p.m., police decided to close access to the road entirely and further encouraged visitors to avoid Khao
Police announced that the access to the 400-metre-long road was blocked and advised anyone arriving after that to find somewhere else to play. It turned out that place was just outside the gates, which got just as crowded and crazy.
Khao San Songkran festivities will continue from Thursday to Saturday. In order to avoid potential safety hazards due to overcrowding, police recommended visitors to visit nearby Ratchadamnoen Avenue instead.
Deputy national police chief Pol. Gen. Torsak Sukwimol said limits were imposed strictly to ensure public safety, and that emergency exits were prepared in case of emergency.
“Strict enforcement of regulations is not for police but for the public. Sometimes accidents could cause harm to the general public,” he said.
Clearly people at the Khao San Songkran party were worried as well. One Thai stuck in the mass of humanity tweeted photos of the sea of bodies and wondered how he’d survive should an emergency happen.
Torsak confirmed that official Songkran celebrations on Khao San Road were set to end each night at 10 p.m. but visitors were expected to remain in the area afterward.
Khao San Songkran Not Only Party Zone
Crowds also were thick at the usual spots on Silom Road as well as in the red-light areas of Soi Cowboy and Nana Plaza.
Videos showed Soi Cowboy during the afternoon looked as it did in 2019, with the street packed from end to end, bargirls dancing on tables and enterprising farangs hawking cans of Singha they bought at the 7-Eleven around the corner, despite the fact bars like Suzie Wong, Shark and Baccara opened around noontime.
At Nana Plaza, the water party flowed inside the bar complex, led by Lollipop, and continued into the night on Sukhumvit Soi 4. The idea water-throwing ends at sundown was lost on those on Soi 4 with the street wet all night.