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Christmas in Thailand

Celebrating Christmas away from home and looking for a little holiday cheer? Though Thailand is a Buddhist country, and as such doesn’t really celebrate Christmas, you have a couple of pieces of good news on your side: the first is that Thais love to celebrate, so adopting another culture’s festivities is a great way for them to have fun. The second is that Thailand is filled with travelers on long-term vacations who often get a little homesick around the holidays and are looking for some traditional comforts.

You’ll see signs of Christmas in shopping malls and whatnot, but it’s unlikely that you’ll see anything related to Christianity. Christmas in Thailand is strictly for consumers and foreigners, and most Thais won’t treat it as a holiday; ie, you can expect shops to be open and business to run as usual.

For the most part, Christmas celebrations will be isolated to tourist areas. If you’re looking, you shouldn’t have a problem finding a Christmas buffet complete with turkey, mashed potatoes, and the feeling of camaraderie that comes with spending the holidays with strangers in a strange land. Expect to pay at least 200 baht minimum for a full dinner, though 300 baht is more likely. Celebrations take place both on Christmas Eve (for you Scandinavians) and Christmas Day.

Some tips from our personal experience celebrating Christmas in Thailand:

  • Rather than plan on swift travel, stick around a location for a few days before and after the holiday so that you can relax and enjoy it.
  • Plan a small gift exchange with friends or fellow travelers; part of Christmas fun is the shopping, right?
  • Arrange a Skype call home so the whole fam can see you, and you them.
  • If you or someone you know has an apartment, cook a Christmas feast yourself. Most ingredients are readily available in Thailand.
  • Put up some decorations; one year on Ko Pha Ngan, my friend and I bought a water cooler (just the jug, for refilling our bottles; we were sticking around a while) and decorated it like a tree, complete with our tiny presents at the base.

Though the holidays are a notorious time for homesickness to set in, it’s worth it to put a little energy into re-creating whatever Christmas traditions you can.

Finally, if you’re looking for some Thai-themed gift ideas, check out our Gift Guide for the Thailand Lover.

Happy holidays!

[Photo credit: Elsie esq., Flickr]