If you are planning to be in Bangkok over Christmas, you might not be sure of what to expect. Since Thailand is a predominantly Buddhist country, is Christmas celebrated at all?
The answer is that Christmas in Bangkok is a very festive and exciting time. Although the Thai people don't celebrate the religious meaning of the holiday they still love the sparkly magic and charm of this time of year. The main aspect of Christmas here is the superficial dazzle of decorations, events and shopping sprees. There will be plenty of Christmas displays featuring giant snowmen and trees, special dinners, events and much more, so you will have a lot of options when it comes to celebrating Christmas in Bangkok.
Here are some ideas of what to do when this tropical metropolis turns into a winter wonderland:
Take a Christmas Eve Dinner Cruise
A great way to celebrate Christmas is to take a cruise on the Chao Phraya River on one of the historic teakwood rice barges. There are special Christmas Eve cruises scheduled, where you can enjoy a candlelit dinner on a boat decorated with sparkling lights. The special holiday package includes champagne, a Christmas dessert, a small gift and a party hat. These packages are around 3500 baht and the cruises offer complimentary pick up at any of the main hotels in central Bangkok.
Enjoying the Lights
Make sure that you take a walk through the dazzling light-scape of downtown Bangkok and see all of the beautiful decorations. The Thai people love the kitschy glitz and glamour and the entire city will be decked out with sparkling lights, Christmas trees, displays and more
Stroll down Rachadamri Road (by the Skytrain station of the same name) and check out the tree at the Four Seasons Hotel. The Peninsula Plaza is one of the most impressive displays in the city, usually with enormous attractions such as a reindeer barn or a gingerbread house. Also, visit the Erawan Mall and Amarin Plaza for more Christmas lights. You can also visit the massive Siam Paragon Mall, which has a very impressive tree that is elegantly illuminated with hundreds of purple lights.
Christmas really is a commercial holiday in Bangkok rather than a religious one, so the shopping malls become the focus of the activity. Almost every retailer in Thailand will be offering special holiday discounts and sales, so make sure that you take advantage of the discounts! Also, most of the malls will offer holiday gift wrapping services too. If you are bringing gifts back from your holiday, make sure you ask the gift wrappers to leave one side open so that the customs inspectors can look at the item without ruining the wrapping job.
Have a Traditional Christmas Meal
Do you miss the traditional grub that you would be feasting on at Christmas at home? There are many places that will be having a Western-style Christmas Eve dinner and party, such as the British and Irish pubs including the Londoner, the Australian, the Dubliner and the Robin Hood. At these types of pubs you will often find a carvery meal offered with classic fixings such as ham, cranberries and Christmas pudding.
If you have little children a big part of the Christmas tradition for them will be visiting jolly old Saint Nick and telling him about their Christmas wishes. The good news is that you will be able to find the old elf in Bangkok – he can be spotted at various children's events throughout the season. He also appears at some of the larger malls throughout the city. If you want to avoid disappointment, have the concierge at your hotel call the mall to confirm that Santa will be there.
These are just a few of the fun ways that you can enjoy Christmas in Bangkok. It might be strange to be away from home during the holidays, whether you are living abroad or just visiting. It's sometimes difficult to adjust to Christmas in a tropical climate when you are used to a snowy holiday season – but there are many enjoyable ways to celebrate Christmas and get in the holiday spirit in the Thai capital.