Bangkok's Best Holiday Attractions; From Festivals to Shopping to Day Trips

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 for Christmas is the New Year's Eve countdown party in the Bangkok equivalent of Times Square. CentralWorld 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. If it is still too hot outside for your holiday liking, head over to one of Bangkok's ice rinks. The Sub-Zero Ice Skate Club at the Esplanade will have you in mittens and a down jacket in no time, or go play in the fake snow at Snow Town at the Dream World amusement park. Finally, the cool winter season here is also 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. If you do get the winter blues, just remember that a white sand beach or tropical island is just down the road! 

Outside the city

If Thai tropics make your winter holiday feel less like home, try heading out to Dream World, especially its Snow Town, which has arctic sleds and fake snow to ride along. From water rides to snow activities to roller coasters, this small...  Read More

Khao San Road is a riot at all times of year, but it is at its most happening during the winter holiday season when the weather is cool enough to sit outside and really enjoy all the people watching, plus the street is filled with foreign...  Read More

While Chatuchak is a great bet at all times of year, during the months of December and January the temperatures are actually cool enough to enjoy the place, with plenty of outdoor bars, cafes, and restaurants, along with a big holiday crowd....  Read More

Outside the city
Saraburi Sunflowers
Photo courtesy of Dave Stamboulis

December and the western visitors holiday season coincides with the blooming of the sunflowers up in nearby Saraburi, and they are well worth a visit. The sunflower fields of Saraburi are just a short hop away from the capital, yet are a miles...  Read More

Bangkok's hippest ice skating rink is a good spot to spend the winter holidays, and the sub-zero environment might even make you forget the tropical heat and humidity outside. During the day, lessons are offered and a lot of kids and families...  Read More

Sansiri's T77 Community is touted as the future of a better Bangkok, a nice residential community where a series of condominium projects combine green space, retail areas, proximity to transport and schools, and a safe enclosed haven. They get...  Read More

In December and January, the bird migration is on in full force, along with the fact that it is Thailand's cool season, making it the best time to enjoy camping, so why not spend the holidays making a quick jaunt down to Sam Roi Yod National...  Read More

Central World gets very festive during the Christmas and New Year season, and is worth visiting even if you aren't a shopper. The front area of the mega shopping mall is famed for hosting the New Year's countdown party, with live bands...  Read More

Loy Krathong happens to fall within the holiday calendar of the high season for western visitors arrivals in Thailand, usually happening the last week of November (it depends on the Thai lunar calendar), and while it isn't timed at all for this,...  Read More

While Bangkok doesn't celebrate Christmas in the religious sense or as a national holiday, it does pay homage to all the thousands of western tourists coming here in the winter and tries to provide some holiday cheer for those who might get...  Read More


Meet Dave Stamboulis

Dave Stamboulis is a travel writer/photographer based in Bangkok. Born in Athens, Greece and growing up in the U.S., Dave first discovered Bangkok while on a 45,000-kilometer bicycle trip and...  More About Dave