Although most of Thailand is Buddhist, you’ll ﬁnd that many are accepting of all faiths and eager to celebrate major world holidays, including Christmas. If you’re in Bangkok, you’ll ﬁnd shops decorated with conifer trees, Santa Claus, snowmen, and other traditional Christmas symbols. The welcoming nature of Thai people can bring you some comfort when you’re thousands of miles from your home country. But sometimes you might want to get a taste of Christmas in Bangkok away from western inﬂuences. There are a few sites that blend the traditional beauty of Bangkok with the celebration of the new year and spirit of Christmas. Here are just a few things you can do and places you can visit with your family on Christmas in Bangkok.
Take a Walk Through the Flower Market (Pak Khlong Talat)
In Bangkok’s Old Town you’ll ﬁnd Pak Khlong Talat, also known as the Bangkok Flower Market, one of the largest ﬂower markets in Thailand. Here, you’ll ﬁnd vendors offering both local ﬂowers and ﬂowers imported from around the world. This market also features products from fruit, vegetable, and spice vendors. Like most markets in Bangkok, you’ll ﬁnd that the early morning, when new stock is brought in and prepared for the day’s sales, is one of the busiest periods. However, the market is open 24 hours a day, so you can expect a fairly consistent level of traﬃc at any given time. The perfect time to stroll through this market will be in the evening, topping off your experience with a meal from the local street vendors or nearby eateries in the late evening.
Christmas season, late in the year when the country’s tropical weather becomes cooler, is the ideal time to visit the Bangkok Flower Market. Although Thailand’s ﬂowering plants are active throughout the year, many come into full bloom from December to February. The market starts to overﬂow with a wide variety of ﬂowers, all with their unique scents and colors. While you’re there, be sure to check out the local ﬂowers that hold particular signiﬁcance to Thai people. This includes the lotus, which is strongly associated with Buddhism, and the Ratchaphruek, the national ﬂower of Thailand. However, it is important to appreciate that the Bangkok Flower Market is much more than an ordinary market.
This site has been a market of some kind for over two hundred years, as early as the 1700s it was a ﬂoating market evolving through the centuries into its current form. Here, you can appreciate an authentic part of local culture rarely seen by tourists. Those seeking to immerse themselves in the local culture and experience the market as a Thai person may beneﬁt from going on a guided tour with an expert in local customs, such as the Bangkok Flower Market Tour by The Unusual Trip.
Explore the Historic Streets and Narrow Waterways of Thonburi
A neighborhood in Bangkok widely known for its dreamy waterways, Thonburi is an excellent destination for those seeking a beautiful window into traditional Bangkok. Situated on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River, Thonburi has been ever changing since its founding. In the 1700s Thonburi was transformed from a small town to the capital of a kingdom, later on as a modern established town it was eventually absorbed into the ever growing city of Bangkok. Indications of its colorful history is marked throughout the body of this neighborhood, a prominent inﬂuence in its infrastructure, landmarks, and local culture. A distinct feature of Thonburi is its incredible ethnic and cultural diversity, with many residents hailing from other countries and widely different backgrounds.
In Thonburi, you will ﬁnd people of Thai Chinese descent, as well as religious groups such as Thai Buddhists, Muslims, and Catholics. Bangkok is an incredibly diverse city, and there’s no better place to appreciate that aspect of Thai culture than in Thonburi. Here, you’ll get a chance to sample the unique cuisine this melting-pot has produced, all while strolling past historic landmarks like the Princess Mothers Memorial Park, Guan Wu Shrine, Guwatin Mosque, Memorial Bridge, and Santa Cruz Church.
The designs and architecture of these sites incorporate Western, Middle eastern, South Asian, and East Asian styles, each with a unique role and story in Bangkok history. The multicultural atmosphere of this neighborhood makes it the perfect location to visit if you want to see how local Thai Catholics and Christians celebrate Christmas. You’ll ﬁnd holiday decorations with a strong infusion of local culture and traditions.
If you’d like to experience this local treasure more thoroughly, and learn about the neighborhood’s best spots and stories, consider enlisting the help of a professional guide who can lead you through the ins and outs of Thonburi. Such as the Thonburi Walking Tour by The Unusual Trip.
Experience the Authentic Bangkok at Old Town
Bangkok’s Old Town is often considered the beating heart of the city, featuring many of the most captivating cultural sites and architecture. It’s simply a must-see neighborhood if you’re visiting Bangkok and want to get a real feel for local life. But don’t be fooled by its name and colorful history, Old Town is also well-known for the energy and vibrant art of its newer generations, like the college kids of the esteemed Thammasat University.
At Old Town, you’ll ﬁnd amazing street art and youth culture side by side with important cultural sites like the Ancient City, City Pillar Shrine, the Grand Palace, and Wat Pho. Among these areas you’ll also ﬁnd vendors of famous Bangkok street foods and established restaurants serving Thai delicacies known the world over.
The endless streets, allies, and canals that make up Old Town can be diﬃcult to navigate and wholly appreciate in a single visit, so it may take more than one day to hit all the best spots and see everything it has to offer. Of course, you’ll want to visit the important historical and religious sites previously mentioned, but don’t forget about the bustling city streets that exemplify life in Bangkok. For this experience, consider a stroll down Khaosan Road or Soi Rambuttri, which show a glimpse of Bangkok before the development and skyscrapers took over the city. If you’re more of a history buff, you’ll want to take a look at Old Town’s museums and galleries as well.
The best thing about visiting Bangkok’s Old Town at Christmas is the lack of crowds and tourists. While December may have higher traﬃc than other months, when you get closer to Christmas most tourists tend to head back home for the holidays, leaving the city to locals and those open to celebrating Bangkok style. Unfortunately, you may not see much in the way of Christmas in Old Town, but if you stick around to New Years, you’ll be in for a great time nonetheless!
However, if you’ve traveled a bit before you’ll know that to reduce a place like Bangkok’s Old Town to a list of places to visit is to do it a disservice. Understanding the culture and history of Bangkok takes time and a certain level of immersion that’s often diﬃcult for tourists to achieve. That’s why some people prefer to explore places like Old Town with a local guide who can take them to both the cultural hotspots and the more obscure places only locals frequent. For just that, check out the Tour of Old Town offered by The Unusual Trip.
Although there are many great places to see in Bangkok, the Flower Market, Thonburi, and Old Town are just a few excellent sites you can explore this coming Christmas.