The verdict is in: No matter what government tourism official says, Songkran definitely was slower this year, according to businesses and street vendors.
Motorcycle taxi driver Narong Chantes said that, by ignoring legal rates he can charge for public transport, he usually does quite well during Songkran thanks to overcharging. But many drivers make less due the number of water warriors on the streets.
“It is good business for many who operate motorbike taxis during Songkran as they can double their prices,” he admitted. “But customers are not too keen as there’s a 95 percent chance of getting soaked.”
Chonburi has regulations for motorbike taxi services that stipulate rides of five kilometers or less should cost 20 baht. Pattaya drivers ignore those and city officials and police do not enforce the transport law.
Narong Chantes says he does ok during Songkran because he can charge double the normal rate.
Some of Narong’s driver friends in other areas said that business was slow and people preferred to walk instead of getting bashed with a bucket of water on a bike and potentially getting in an accident.
Porn Vilai, a fast-food restaurant owner near Wat Nongyai, also said eateries didn’t do as well this year.
“Anybody could tell just by looking that the numbers of tourists have fallen compared with previous years,” she said. “Customers that come to eat here are regulars and we don’t seem to get any new faces. Most people are being careful with their expenses because the prices have gone up over the years, especially locals who are on a strict budget.”
Sawai Wanchai, an ice vendor, claimed he didn’t do any better during Songkran.
“I have trucks running around the main roads, especially Third Road, and we are not doing much business,” he said. “I must admit that this year was nothing compared to the previous years as people weren’t as active. I don’t understand where exactly people are going, as Sukhumvit Road was gridlocked.”
With the hot weather, “we would normally do quite well during this time, but I’m just a little confused. The prices of our ice is the same as last year and I think that tourists are being a lot more careful with their expenses.”
He said he hoped the Thai economy would be better by next year’s Songkran celebration.