Christmas in Thailand
Christmas isn’t officially a holiday in Thailand, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to see it. In fact, if you’ve visited Bangkok around December you will have probably noticed brightly lit Christmas trees, fairy lights and colourful decorations all around the city, particularly in various shopping centres.
I have spent a few Christmases in Thailand, although never in Bangkok. My first one, almost 10 years ago was particularly memorable. I spent Christmas Eve scuba diving off Koh Tao, and the evening drinking cocktails on the beach. Christmas Day was spent lying under palm trees, just watching the sun set in the horizon. It was beautiful! Another time I was in Chiang Mai where I enjoyed a traditional Christmas dinner with turkey and stuffing and the most delicious pumpkin pie at the Art Café by Thapae Square. It was a very low key affair, but still a nice way to mark the occasion.
And this is what I love about Christmas in Thailand. There is no stress, no rush or panic (at least as long as you don’t have kids) and you can still choose to mark the occasion with a traditional dinner or a party (there are plenty of places to do so!) if you wish. Alternatively, you may choose to head to the pool or the beaches and virtually forget about the whole thing.
If you are planning to visit around Christmas time, the good news is that because it’s not a public holiday, your travel plans won’t be affected. Everything from shops to tourist attractions and public transport will be open and operating as normal. Still, it’s worth bearing in mind that this is the peak season so hotels, airlines, trains etc. will be busier than usual. In fact, just today (2 weeks before Christmas) I went Hua Lamphong train station in Bangkok to try and book tickets to Chiang Mai, and all the trains were nearly full just before Christmas eve. I managed to get the last sleeper ticket on the 23rd, and that was on a slow train in a non-air conditioned carriage. I was really hoping to try one of the new modern trains, but there was no chance. So definitely plan well ahead and don’t leave anything until the last minute!
And so this year I will be spending Christmas in the company of great friends in Chiang Mai. Even though I don’t think there will be much traditional Christmas food or decorations, it will be a festive and joyful occasion nonetheless, and I think that’s what Christmas really is all about!