Christmas is fast approaching and in this article you will find some ideas of how to spent Christmas in Bangkok.
Many people wonder to what extent Christmas and New Years Eve are celebrate in Thailand. While we have a few special festive activities this year at Expique (Santa Tuk Tuk Tours and Festive Thai Cooking Classes), here we share our guide to what else is going on in Bangkok.
Thailand is frequently referred to as a Buddhist country, yet there is in fact no official state religion. While around 95% of Thais are Buddhist, Thailand has plenty of religious diversity (as we showcase on our Diversity & Harmony walking tour), with almost a 4% Muslim population and around 0.7% Christians, mostly Catholics. The official Thai new years is actually in April.
Despite this, while Christmas is not widely celebrated, especially in the most commercial parts of Bangkok and tourist destinations, Christmas usually gets a significant amount of attention and New Years Eve is widely celebrate across the country. Last year due to the mourning for the late King, festivities and decorations were toned down a little but this year things will be back to normal.
December is among the busiest months of Thailand’s peak tourist season, and with that comes plenty of opportunity to dress the capital up with familiar Christmas decorations. Bangkok’s infamous high-end, sky-scraping shopping centres and luxury hotels sprout Christmas trees and fairy lights that become an attraction of their own – you could easily take a walking tour just to decide which mall has the best display!
With the recent opening of the massive IconSiam shopping mall, they are bound to enter the competition for the best decorations which typically would center around the central Siam area, where Siam Paragon, CentralWorld and MBK are among the malls to hit for a Christmas tree selfie, while hotels that impress each year include the Grand Hyatt Erawan, the Penninsula and the InterContinental.
For Christmas shopping, while this may not be Frankfurt, a number of Christmas markets set up offering festive homewares, food and gifts. Each year there are more than ever before!
What is Christmas without overdoing it on the food and drink front? Bangkok delivers on this front too, and you certainly won’t go hungry for festive fare. If staying at an international hotel in Bangkok, you are likely to come across popular gala buffet dinners for both Christmas and New Year – in many cases compulsory if you want to make a booking at that time of year. They might be just what you are looking for in terms of a ready-made package of familiar celebrations, but they can also be pricey.
If you simply want a good meal at a reasonable price many of Bangkok’s international restaurants put on a lower-key Christmas spread that could be the perfect alternative if you still want to mark Christmas Day with a traditional meal. For example one of our favourites near our office is Kai New Zealand (Sathorn Soi 12), who have a special Christmas menu. Alternatively try pubs like The Robin Hood on Sukhumvit Soi 33/1 (BTS Phrom Phong) for a British Xmas, Bourbon Street on Sukhumvit Soi 63 (BTS Ekkamai) or Roadhouse BBQ on Rama 4 Road (BTS Sala Daeng/MRT Silom) for an American take, or Bei Otto on Sukhumvit Soi 20 (BTS Phrom Phong) for a German Christmas.
For drinks, Central World shopping centre makes the most of the cooler winter weather and puts on a popular beer garden just outside its front door on Ratchaprasong Road before, during and after Christmas; beer gardens also pop up all over other parts of Bangkok.
Bangkok has its share of Christian churches, and if you are looking for a religious service to attend on Christmas Day – or just want to take a wander around a church in the festive season – you won’t have trouble finding one. After several years of restoration, Assumption Church is now open again, and is worth a visit over Christmas. Sunday services are held at Santa Cruz Catholic church, which our Diversity & Harmony tour visits, at 6am and 6pm. The Holy Redeemer Church, on Soi Ruamrudee in Phloen Chit, performs mass daily in English and Thai, with four services in each language on a Sunday, while the English-speaking Anglican Christ Church on Silom’s Convent Road has Sunday services at 7.30am and 10am.
On December 24 / 25 we will be running some very special Christmas versions of our tuk tuk tours and adapted for all the family to enjoy! Also our partner, The Market Experience, will be running a festive themes Thai Cooking Class on Xmas Day. Check out our Christmas tours here.
Looking to celebrate New Years Eve in Bangkok. Read more about New Years Eve in Bangkok.
Have you celebrated Christmas in Bangkok? What are your favourite festive activities in the Thai capital?
(CentralWorld photo by Kazuhiro Nakamura; outdoor Christmas scene photo by Eric Molina; calendar photo by Syeefa Jay; roast turkey photo by Dan Germain; Santa Cruz photo by Chris Wotton)