“Tis the Season!” 🥳 and all of us expats and tourists in Thailand are getting ready for the Christmas Day celebration like never before!
This time of year can be a mixed bag of emotions for many of us. We sometimes think about what we miss back home and wonder what the holidays in Thailand will be like this year, especially now that COVID-19 pandemic restrictions have been lifted. One can even feel very alone in this often-strange land full of complications and uncertainty - to go back home or stay.
But the future surrounds us every day, and we are all fortunate to have the opportunity to dive in and find out what will happen! 🎉 AND YES! Thailand still has been full of fun and adventure, and December is one of the highlight months of activities across the country. So here is my fun and unforgettable Christmas experience in Thailand 🥳
Thailand is Buddhist, so Christmas is not celebrated as an official holiday 🥳 But, to make this time of year memorable, I did a lot of things, and I visited plenty of places with my friends and loved ones.
During the time of the December holiday festivities, Thailand becomes a wide-open world of eating, drinking, and merry. The malls and shopping areas go all out with decorations and special sales. The hotels throw glamorous gala events and host lavish buffets 🎉
And the bars and clubs are literally crawling with revelers drinking and dancing the night away. The height of the tourist season in Thailand packs a lot of parties during the season to be jolly! 🥳
The big difference between here and there during the holidays is the traditions. In our Christian west, there is a big run-up to Christmas and a week-long build-up to New Year 🎉
In Europe, there are big feast days and many Christmas markets in all the towns and cities. Latin America celebrates with processions, daily chorus singing, and special foods. North America goes wild with shopping and has Christmas-themed plays, shows, and movies to enjoy 🥳
All over the Christian world, “Presepio” or nativity displays representing the birth of Jesus are everywhere. Thailand is Buddhist, so there is none of this kind of “spirit” around this day. New Year’s is also different in that not much time is spent going over the past year's events. Instead, Thailand goes all out with a hopeful fervor for the coming new year 🎉
Even though Christmas is not a recognized public holiday in Thailand, it is still celebrated with enthusiasm. However, the real highlight of the holiday season in the country is New Year's, which is widely celebrated and considered a mega holiday. The festive spirit during this time makes Thailand ideal for those looking to party and have a good time.
Thailand has an escape from the classic western holiday traditions! This time of year is really great. And even though there’s no winter season here, I still enjoyed the weather, which is warm and dry almost all over the country 🥳 It opens its tourism arms for all to come and get a getaway, offering something for everyone. There is so many things anyone can do at the beaches, the big cities, and all the unique places throughout the country 🎉
Expats can be a tourist again and go to places they usually don’t go to in their daily lives here. It is especially cool to host friends and relatives and tour with them 🎉 Thailand puts on many special events for the holidays just for this reason. There are special activities, parties, concerts, and events just for the people to get away from their traditional boundaries 🥳
During the Christmas season in Thailand, the places most people love to be are inside the shopping malls, with many beautiful decorations. There aren’t lights and trees everywhere, but the malls put on excellent displays that are fun for your whole family 🥳
The shopping malls I experienced in Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (Bangkok) are ICONSIAM - a relatively new mall, and Asiatique The Riverfront are great spots to go on the waterfront. Chatuchak weekend market is also fantastic, and further downtown, Siam Paragon, and MBK (Ma Boon Khrong) Center are too. But Central World is the best mall for the Christmas spirit. They have the most giant Christmas tree in the city, light tunnels, dazzling lasers, and even an ice-skating rink! 🎉
Yes, Christmas in Thailand is commercial, just like the rest of the world. Things are pretty well priced, and there are sales but don’t expect deep discounting like in the USA. You don’t necessarily go to the malls for bargains; you go for the experience 🥳
What made my Christmas holiday great and fantastic were the beaches in Thailand. Phuket is great this time of year because of the party scene that goes on there all year round. It is a little better in December because the bars and hotels offer holiday-time specials on drinks and food 🎉
Krabi is also excellent anytime, but at Christmas, it is the relaxed holiday getaway you may be looking for 🥳 Pattaya is also cool this time of year simply because there is more to do for the whole family. Being close to Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (Bangkok), it also is the place to conserve time as you try to take in both places.
Koh Samui is a destination unto itself. If the metropolitan city is not your thing, it is best to go straight from BKK airport 🎉 Koh Samui is the luxury paradise of Thailand, and Christmas there is special for romance and pampering, not for drink prices.
The good weather during the Christmas season here in Thailand made it totally great for my tours. For instance, this is the ideal time to go camping! Go to one of the amazing National Parks in Thailand and be outdoors while it is not so oppressively hot 🎉
And since Christmas isn’t really an official public holiday in Thailand, the parks weren’t so crowded, even on weekends. Nature tours are great this time of year for the same reason 🥳 Thailand’s natural beauty will impress family visitors traveling with you, and they will be comfortable at the same time.
Also, tours of Ayutthaya, Kanchanaburi, and Samut Prakan involve being outside. For the really adventurous types, the good weather is perfect for motorbike tours 🥳 Previous experience riding a motorbike is essential because Thailand roads can be dangerous. But it is so much fun, and you see the country up close and personal this way.
Christmas holiday in Thailand may not really be a “holiday,” but it is still a great time to dress up and go out. Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (Bangkok) is especially swanky on the high-end party scene. Many big hotels I visited had significant gala events and holiday buffets with all the foods I was missing 🥳
For something different, you may also contact your embassy and ask if they sponsor any holiday events. Embassy parties are exquisite intellectual affairs, and the expat community can stay in touch with their country and countrymen 🎉
Also, there are many elegant dining spots everywhere you go, featuring international menus to wine and dine around holiday time. So, bring that dress, take out your dinner suit, and go somewhere! 🥳
You can do two things in Thailand that harken back to the traditions of Christmas we all know. One is to visit Santa Clause with the kids 🥳 He makes regular appearances at K Village on Sukhumvit 26 and shuttles over to nearby Nameebooks on Sukhumvit 31. And on his breaks, he shows up at various malls. Since he does this in his spare time, you should check websites for when he will be where 🎉
The other thing is to go to a church service. These are rarer since Christians comprise less than 1% of the population, but at least 5 places I can recommend 🥳 St. Louis Church, Assumption Cathedral, and Christ Church are in Silom. Holy Redeemer is near Ploen Chit and Santa Cruz Church (Kudi Chin) in Thon Buri District. These are in Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (Bangkok); check websites for other places 🎉
Aside from sightseeing, shopping, and enjoying food and drinks, Thailand still has much more to offer on these festive occasions.
There is a tremendous rush of excitement in planning for the most perfect Christmas Day 🎉 In the end, the fun part is getting out and experiencing it. Thailand truly offers joy to the world this holiday season, so enjoy and revel in all there is to offer 🥳
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