This festive season, take to the malls, hotels and even the river, to witness some of the city’s most impressive Christmas displays.
Words by Jaci Billington
People in Thailand might be dominantly Buddhist, but that hasn’t stopped anyone from getting into the swing of Christmas. In fact, Thais take the holiday season very seriously indeed. During this season, hotels are booked to the brim with Christmas vacationers, and shopping malls blast carols at maximum volume almost 24/7.
In Bangkok, however, nothing steals the show like the Christmas lights displays. Wherever you look, you’d be hard-pressed not to catch at least a twinkle from a single fairy light. These bright bulbs are adorned everywhere, from bridges and trees to the neighbourhood tuk-tuks and shopping stalls. Thais tend to let their creative juices flow when decorating for the holidays, and it definitely shows. Here are some of the best places in the city to see some incredible light shows and get you into the Christmas spirit.
Among all the places in Bangkok where you can expect to find the most extravagant and expensive holiday set up, Siam Paragon is high on the list. In 2014, the mall was recognised by Quartz as “The Most Instagrammed Place in the World”. Managers at Siam Paragon start putting up their signature Christmas tree as early as November. Made of steel and elegant glass lights formed into a tree shape, it’s a sight to behold while you’re making your holiday shopping rounds. It can also be seen from the sky train, which makes for another beautiful view, particularly when lit up at night.
The Chao Phraya River
To truly appreciate this spectacle, take a boat up the Chao Phraya River during the holiday season. USA Today recommends doing this to see Thailand at its “most romantic”. As you ride, you’ll come across many houses adorned with sparkling lights and dancing Santas on the roofs. Watch as the lights reflect off the river for a magically serene Christmas moment.
The Peninsula Hotel
Locals and foreigners alike flock to the Peninsula Hotel to witness its majestic display, so much that it currently holds the “Most Photographed Christmas Lights” title in all of Bangkok. They’ve got their own gingerbread house and reindeer barn too, so you’ve got a wealth of photo opportunities. The Peninsula Hotel is also known for flying in an enormous Christmas pine tree from Canada.
This commercial district is home to numerous high-end apartments, bars, restaurants, and more. Make your way down the main Bangkok road and be treated to a grand light display. You’ll see Christmas trees made entirely out of lights, reindeers, and walking Santa Clauses making their rounds. Because it’s a major road in Bangkok, it’s quite notorious for its traffic jams, but the displays make for a less dreary commute during the holidays. Don’t forget to wear comfy shoes though, as it’s definitely a walkfest on this extensive thoroughfare.
Here, you’ll find the largest Christmas tree stationed right in front of CentralWorld Square. It is also located right next to a beer garden, where local retailers set up shops to provide refreshments for nightly live concerts throughout December.
EmQuartier and Emporium
For something a bit outside the usual holiday attractions, make your way to Winter Wonderland at EmQuartier and Emporium, also located in Sukhumvit. The two venues partner up every year to present 12-meter-tall polar bears, coupled with Christmas-themed 3D mapping you won’t find anywhere else. You can also hit up Benjasiri Park next door, which turns into a symphony of light this time of year, enhanced by illuminated sculptures during the holidays.
This area is so populated with malls and establishments that you can just walk around and be treated to plenty of Christmas eye candy. Make sure to cover Amarin Plaza, Gaysorn Plaza, and Central Chidlom because these stores tend to go all out with their holiday installations. Again, make sure to wear your most comfortable attire because going around this crowded area can be draining. If you can visit on December 5th—King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s birthday—expect to see and hear store employees sing the Thai national anthem complete with an impressive candle vigil.