Although it’s a Buddhist country, Thailand gets into the Christmas spirit in a big way. In malls and shops all over Bangkok you’ll see Christmas decorations for sale, every mall will have a huge Christmas tree and Christmas music will be blaring loudly throughout.
Many of the main roads around the city centre will have outdoor Christmas lights, which make driving in Bangkok’s congested streets more interesting. In fact, although the Thais are predominantly Buddhist they are absolutely in love with Christmas.
Bangkok has some of the best Christmas lights and decoration displays in the country. There are many places around the city to see them, but there are definite places I think are the best to enjoy the Christmas spirit.
Siam Paragon Shopping Mall – you will see the most costly display in Bangkok. Siam Paragon is Bangkok’s largest mall and is next to Siam, the main sky train station. Beginning at the start of November, the mall displays a beautiful Christmas tree outside next to the mall. This tree is not an actual ‘tree’ but is made out of steel and glass lights in a tree shape. It’s lit every night and is simply beautiful when seen from the sky train.
The mall also has displays of lights all around their land, and almost every shop in the mall sets up their own light displays. Some of them have animated displays that are truly lovely and include Western traditional Christmas symbols as well as Thai folklore and religion.
Inside the mall, you will also see travelling bands of carol singers and Christmas shows from all over the world, featured throughout the day right through until New Year. Their Japanese sword fights last year were spectacular.
The main Bangkok road Sukhumvit puts up light displays for the holiday season towards the end of November. They run around the main shopping areas and have Christmas trees made of lights, reindeer and Santa Claus in the centre of the road. Merchants also string lights around lamp posts and in their businesses. As this area is one of the worst areas in Bangkok for traffic jams, it does liven up the nightly commute.
Ratchaprasong is the area near Chitlom sky train station. At this location there are 4 large shopping malls near the intersection of Ratchadamri and Ploenchit roads. Central World Plaza has recently been renovated so I imagine their display this year will be even more extravagant than last year’s display.
This mall has a huge area outside the front of the mall and every year it is decorated with flashing Christmas lights, trees and Thai beer gardens. The beer gardens will be open in December and January during the cooler weather and will also feature live Thai music bands on huge stages.
Amarin Plaza, Gaysorn Plaza, and Central Chidlom are also in the Ratchaprasong area and all of these stores go all out with Christmas decorations.
One beautiful addition is that, on December 5th the King of Thailand’s birthday, many of the employees of the malls will come out of the stores at precisely 6pm with thousands of lit candles and sing the Thai national anthem and the King’s song. A beautiful and touching celebration for a wonderful man, which really adds to the Christmas spirit.
The Chao Praya River. Take a boat up the Chao Praya River during the holiday season. You will see many houses and businesses decorated with flashing lights and animated Santas and animals, and many of the boats on the river will also be decorated with fairy lights. Really beautiful with the lights reflecting on the water.
During the holiday season, you will see tuk-tuk drivers wearing Santa hats, shop girls in little Santa suits, and little kids running everywhere in costumes as the malls run Best Costume competitions. Christmas in Bangkok makes me feel like a little kid as the Thais really get into the spirit of the occasion.
Finally, don’t forget, if you want to decorate your own house or apartment, many shopping malls and stores sell Christmas decorations. The best place to buy them though is Chinatown, where you can buy everything you need in bulk for a very cheap price.