If you're celebrating Christmas away from home and looking for a yuletide with a difference, Thailand is the ideal choice. Although most Thai people don't believe in the birth of Jesus, they love to celebrate, so adopting another culture’s festivities is not something they think twice about. During the festive season, the Kingdom is always packed with visitors on long and short-term holidays, looking to combine a little sunshine with their Christmas cheer.
Although Bangkok is not a place most international visitors would choose to spend Christmas. The city's Christmas lights rival those in most European countries. Buildings, trees, bridges, lamp posts and sometimes even tuk tuks are all decorated with colourful, twinkling lights, turning Bangkok into a warm winter wonderland. The fact is, Thai people just love pretty lights and many of theses attractive adornments stay hanging throughout the year.
For those looking for a more tropical Christmas celebration, Thailand's islands and beaches are the most popular choice. Below are some suggestions for a Thai style Christmas to remember:Rent a private villa Sharing a private villa with family and friends over Christmas is the perfect way to celebrate the holiday in comfort and style. On island's like Phuket and Samui, luxury villas can be rented in stunning locations, either right on the beach or perched on a hillside with dramatic ocean views. Many properties come with on-site staff to clean, cook and book activities and rates compare very favourably with those of quality hotels and resorts.
Dive on Christmas Day
The Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea offer some of the most spectacular dive sites in the world. Places like Koh Tao and the Similan islands draw scuba enthusiasts and snorkellers to enjoy the colourful reefs and incredible marine life. The undersea world has a distinctly festive feel and diving on Christmas day is a unique and memorable way to celebrate the season. Dive courses and and boat trips can easily be arranged from Phuket and Samui, whether on scheduled tours or in true style on a private charter speedboat.
Feast on the beach
It's not hard to find a Christmas buffet in Thailand, complete with turkey, roast potatoes and all the trimmings. Most hotels and resorts offer a Christmas meal package, often with entertainment and games for the kids, while for private villa guests, your personal Chef can prepare a sumptuous feast to enjoy by the pool. For something different, a barbeque or tasty Thai spread may also appeal as an an alternative to the more traditional Christmas feast. The choice of fine restaurants is vast in Thailand's top tourist destinations, so you can choose your cuisine and enjoy a leisurely meal surrounded by tropical splendour.
Thailand is known for its party atmosphere with world famous gatherings like the Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan attracting thousands of revellers over the Christmas and new year period. Infamous Haad Rin Beach hosts huge parties virtually every night of the festive season, including a massive rave on New Year's Eve. For a more intimate, sophisticated party, ocean clubs like Nikki Beach and Beach republic on Koh Samui combine great food with signature cocktails and music from celebrated international DJs.
Families looking to entertain the kids can also find plenty of options. This year, Child Watch Phuket at the Jungceylon Shopping Plaza in Patong features games, performing clowns and a visit from Santa Clause, followed in the evening by a Frozen Diamond Fashion Show and an upbeat Christmas Party with live performances by Stomp Percussion Show a concert from “The Super Glasses Ska Ensemble”.
To escape the crowds, a private party in your own rental villa is another appealing option for many Christmas visitors. Food, drinks and music can all be easily and affordably arranged in advance, allowing you the freedom to set your own schedule and celebrate a more personal Christmas with friends and family in cosseted comfort.
By Jules Kay