Unlike New Year's Eve, Christmas isn't an official holiday in Thailand. Regardless, there are some ways to still enjoy Christmas in Bangkok while escaping cold weather at home.
Thailand is primarily a Buddhist country, and though there is a small minority of resident Christians, much of the holiday revelry is purely secular. Most Thai families do not celebrate Christmas on December 25 with a tree, decorations, and gift giving.
Unsurprisingly, the commercial appeal of Christmas is just too much for Bangkok's many big malls to resist. They get in on the holiday action with sales, lights, and decorated trees. If inclined, you can even find Santa in Thailand!
Find Christmas Decorations in Bangkok
Every large mall in the city will be decking its halls (and the exterior) in time for Christmas. In central Bangkok, do a little walking tour of some of the best-decorated shopping centers. Many are centered around the Sukhumvit area and only a quick Skytrain stop or two away from each other. Strolling is also an option—you won't get cold in Bangkok!
On Phloen Chit Road near the Chitlom BTS station is Amarin Plaza, one of many shopping centers that put out impressive Christmas decorations. Siam Paragon, Center, and Discovery (just a couple of Skytrain stops away) decorate their plazas with lots of lights, Christmas trees, and other traditional holiday animals and scenery. MBK Center, a short walk from the other malls, is also known for its outdoor Christmas decorations both indoors and out.
IconSIAM, Bangkok's newest luxury mall on the river, is certain to have an impressive Christmas display.
Asiatique is a large, outdoor entertainment complex on the river just south of Chinatown. Although the bazaar is always impressively lit up, you can find a bit of a Christmas atmosphere despite the temperature being in the 80s Fahrenheit.
The biggest Ferris wheel in town, dining, a midrange shopping mall, and other entertainment options await. You could visit Asiatique then grab a river taxi across to IconSIAM for a double dose of outdoor lighting.
Eat a Christmas Dinner
Cooking while in Bangkok may not be an option, but don't worry: No matter what the craving, Bangkok will have a dining establishment to satisfy the urge. You don't necessarily have to eat Thai noodles on Christmas.
Many of the city's five-star hotels, including The Peninsula, the Mandarin Oriental just across the river, and other fancy hotels in Silom have gala dinners and special buffets for Christmas. If fine dining at one of Bangkok's many excellent restaurants doesn't appeal, some of the city's pubs also make holiday dinners that attract local expats and are much more casual. Although the ambiance may not feel like the typical "American style" of Christmas, you can enjoy great food and company with people who are also away from their home countries for the holiday.
CentralWorld, the massive shopping mall in the Ratchaprasong area, is home to one of the few public skating rinks in the city. Although not a very large rink, the twinkling blue lights in the trees add a nice touch. Your options for ice skating in Bangkok are pretty limited.
Your skating will feel more holiday oriented thanks to the gigantic Christmas tree in the front square (the largest in the city). There's also an open-air beer garden just next door.
Plenty of Christmas decorations to enjoy await inside CentralWorld including another large Christmas installation in the mall's seven-story atrium.
Find The Rink on the second floor inside CentralWorld on Rama I Road.
If you have children (or feel like a big kid) and will be celebrating Christmas in Bangkok, you'll probably want to find Santa. The good news is that he does make his way to Southeast Asia every year and can be spotted at various family and children's events.
One of the places to find Santa in Bangkok is at the Christmas market inside K Village (Sukhumvit Soi 26). Another option is at the Nameebooks Learning Center (Sukhumvit Soi 31).
Santa often appears at the larger, high-end malls in the city but make sure to call or check their websites to confirm when he will be there. Weekend afternoons are usually a good bet.
One Christmas activity that Bangkok excels at all year long is shopping. During December, just about every big retailer in Thailand will be running promotions and holiday sales making Christmas a great time to grab a deal.
Almost every mall offers gift-wrapping services. If heading home with gifts and you're concerned about customs inspectors needing to view the contents, the gift wrappers can leave one side open so the items can be reviewed without ruining the wrapping job.
A more chaotic-but-fun location for shopping is the Chatuchak Weekend Market. It's one of the world’s largest outdoor markets and sells Thai silks, handicrafts, clothing, and plenty more easy-to-carry items that make perfect gifts.
Although admiring exotic plants and flowers may not be an ordinary Christmas tradition, the fragrant smells of thousands of blooms can make a unique holiday memory. The ambiance is worth the time, but you'll also find places to eat, sit, and enjoy a coffee.
The Pak Khlong Flower Market just south of the Grand Palace and Wat Pho is a labyrinthine collection of beautiful sights and smells. Bangkok's most important flower market is loved by local residents and stays open 24 hours a day. To see it in full swing, go as early as possible (before dawn if you're motivated enough) when buyers from hotels and restaurants arrive in force.
What better way to torture friends and coworkers who are still at home in December? Shareable, envy-evoking photos of blue water are easy to get in Thailand. You'll find a handful of decent beaches and islands near Bangkok; many can be reached by car or bus in just a few hours. Go put your feet in the sand and enjoy a different kind of white Christmas!
Beaches aren't the only good options for a quick escape from the city to enjoy Christmas in Bangkok.