Thailand is a Buddhist country and does not officially celebrate Christmas. However, as one of Asia's top shopping destinations, Bangkok has put holiday gift buying firmly on the map, not to mention that the Thais love a good party, so there are plenty of things happening during Xmas and New Years. At the top of the list is the New Year's Eve countdown party in the Bangkok equivalent of Times Square. Central World Shopping Mall hosts a large event, where giant beer gardens get set up out in the large plaza out front, popular during the winter months here as it is the "cool" season, meaning one might be able to sit outside without sweating too much! Live bands play, there is plenty of food and drink, and then a midnight countdown ceremony rings in the New Year. A close second to this are the Christmas lights that get put up nearby in front of the All Season's Place, Grand Hyatt Erawan, and all around the Rajaprasong intersection along Rajadamri Road, where hotels have their own Xmas trees and other festive displays lit and decorated for the holidays. Other in town shopping options include the artsy Sansiri Winter Fest Market, as well as going to longtime favourites Chatuchak Market and Khao San Road, both of which are full of crowds and good weather in December. It's not only Xmas that happens at this time of year either. Loy Krathong is Thailand's most traditional festival, well worth catching if you are here towards latter November, and the Trooping of the Colors ceremony takes place right before the King's Birthday and has plenty of pomp and photogenic appeal. If it is still too hot outside for your holiday liking, head over to one of Bangkok's ice rinks. The new Sub-Zero Ice Skate Club at the Esplanade will have you in mittens and a down jacket in no time. Finally, the cool winter season here is the best time to be making day trips. The Saraburi sunflowers are all in bloom at this time, and there's an epic bird migration taking place at Khao Sam Roi Yod National Park, both of which can be easily accessed from Bangkok.
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