The festive season in Bangkok has become increasingly popular over the years, with the city warmly embracing Christmas songs and decorations all around town, with all manner of schools, shops, parks, and cafes getting in on the action. No matter your taste, style, or budget, there are myriad ways to get in the festive spirit and share your love of the holidays.
If you’re after a magical New Year celebration, there are many ways to ring in 2020 in Bangkok too. From a massive street party countdown at CentralWorld to a fireworks extravaganza at Asiatique, Bangkok is renowned for putting on a pretty spectacular show to mark the year’s end.
Whether you’re just passing through the city for one night or planning to stay in Bangkok for the holidays, here’s a quick guide on how to make the most out of the festive season in the City of Angels; covering everything from charity work in the slums to a Bangkok buffet dinner, downtown street party and window display spotting.
Glimmering Holiday Lights
If you love Christmas lights and enjoy the nostalgic feeling of seeing festival decorations during this time of year, Bangkok won’t disappoint. This city offers some of the most fantastic light displays imaginable during the festive season. Check out our top picks to see twinkling lights below. And don’t forget your camera as there are many fantastic selfie spots among them.
Ratchaprasong – The whole area around Ratchaprasong (between BTS Siam and BTS Chidlom) puts on a pretty spectacular Christmas show, replete with colorful ornaments and inflatable Santas. The best way to take it in is to cruise along the skywalk between the two BTS stations. You’ll pass by spectacular and elaborate displays at CentalWorld, Erawan Shrine, Gaysorn Village, Amarin Plaza, CentralChidlom, and Mercury Ville. All with amazing over-the-top displays, like Christmas in Space! There are also pop-up markets, live bands, themed events, parties, and open-air beer halls to check out.
ICONSIAM – This mega riverside shopping center is celebrating its first festive season with a golden light installation that’s encompassing the mall’s entire riverfront promenade. This stunning extravaganza features massive glittering Christmas trees and light decorations inspired by traditional Thai architecture. If you’re visiting the Chao Phraya, you won’t want to miss this.
Downtown Malls – Each year, the city’s biggest malls compete with themselves and their neighbors to put on the biggest and best Christmas show. They are often unique, quirky, whimsical, and, most of all, fun. Displayed throughout all seven floors of its premises, the show at CentralEmbassy (BTS Ploenchit) is worth checking out as it incorporates 5,000 meters of red ribbon, said to be the longest festive ribbon in the world! From there, head down to EmQuartier (BTS Phrom Phong) to see a rather unusual display of over 200 colorful animals. Peeking out from every corner and hanging from the ceilings of the mall are fluorescent beasts like polka-dot polar bears, stripy giraffes, and swirly monkeys. Lastly, at the BTS interchange (Siam), you find a trio of malls – Paragon, Siam Centre, Siam Discovery – offering something spectacular. All three malls are showcasing pretty awesome photo ops, like gigantic castles, cutting-edge Christmas trees, kinetic lighting installations, and eco-friendly displays.
If you love a good party, the New Year celebration scene in Bangkok won’t let you down. One of the best ways to welcome in 2020 is to set the sky ablaze with fireworks, something of a tradition here in the capital city. Almost every substantial building and even private residence will get in on the action and set off pyrotechnics at the stroke of midnight. If you head to the rooftop of almost any tall buildings in Bangkok, you’re sure to get a view of some fireworks, but for the best seats in town, check out the following three destinations:
Asiatique – Asiatique (BTS Saphan Taksin) is one of the most popular places in Bangkok to ring in the New Year. This venue takes center stage nationally with the glitzy 5:00 pm countdown aired on live national TV, showcasing a plethora of local celebrities. Along with the countdown show, expect to find the buzzing night market in full swing, along with live music, and the all-important fireworks show at midnight sharp. In honor of the special occasion, many of Asiatique’s dozens of restaurants, cafes, and bars will be offering unique holiday specials, so book a table in advance and make the most of this celebratory night.
CentralWorld – This is hands down the biggest party in town. Every year the forecourt in front of CentralWorld shopping mall (BTS Siam or Chidlom) becomes a sea of over 10,000 revelers there to enjoy a vibrant countdown party, akin to New York’s NYE Times Square Ball Drop Party. Besides the cheerful crowd and festive decorations, expect to find plenty of snack stalls, beer gardens, live entertainment (DJs and bands), and plenty of hawkers selling neon and glow-in-the-dark accessories.
River Cruise – For something a little different, we recommend a Bangkok river cruise on New Year’s Eve to farewell 2019 in style. Many companies offer special NYE packages with boats departing at around 8:00 pm and starting out until about 2:00 am. They will cruise up the river past such famous spots as the Grand Palace, Wat Arun, Rama VIII Bridge, Khao San Road, and so on. Different boats will offer different packages; some will have just canapes and cocktails, others a buffet dinner, and some even a gourmet ten-course meal. Ringing in the new year aboard a sleek vessel under the starry sky is a truly memorable way to partake of this special night.
Sharing the Joy
Tis the season to give back and give thanks for all the wonderful things in our lives. There are many impactful ways you can help local Bangkok and regional Thai communities during the festive season. The true spirit of the holidays is about giving back and helping those who need it most. Here’s a list of organizations, charities, and projects where you can lend a hand.
Socialgiver – When you shop with Socialgiver, 100% of profits go to handpicked social and environmental projects. How it works is that local hotels, restaurants, and experiences give out GiveCards, which customers can buy and use at their premises, with 70% of the money raised donated to worthy causes. Supporters can go online to see exactly how their donation was spent via project updates. The support given to Socialgiver is making a profound difference across Thailand, helping small, non-profit organizations help local communities.
The Mercy Centre – The Mercy Centre incorporates many different facilities: a shelter for street kids, five orphanages, a hospice, a home for mothers and children with HIV/AIDS, a 400-pupil kindergarten, a community meeting place, and a small garden/playgroundt. For nearly 40 years, this incredible institution has been providing an invaluable service to the local Khlong Toei community thanks to the generosity of Thais and foreigners donating their time, money, and second-hand items.
Gift of Happiness Foundation – This non-profit organization helps needy children and families around Thailand. As their headquarters is all the way out in On Nut, they have established various drop-off points around the city for those wanting to donate their used goods, such as non-expired food, clothing, toys, homeware items and books. If you don’t have any second-hand items to share, you can also donate much-needed money or your time, as they are always on the lookout for volunteers.
IBIS Bangkok Riverside
Who says you need to go anywhere to enjoy a memorable festive season. If you’re fortunate enough to be staying at the IBIS Bangkok Riverside, you needn’t go further than two of its iconic on-site premises.
Pool Bar – This chill space overlooking the stunning Chao Phraya River is an ideal place to kick back with family and friends and enjoy a leisurely sunset drink, a light bite to eat, or even a magical fireworks show. The bar offers exceptional cocktails and a stunning vista, everything you need for an unforgettable and relaxing time during the festive season in Bangkok.
Taste – Offering a nightly Bangkok buffet dinner with a sumptuous array of Thai and international dishes, this restaurant is a firm favorite with hotel guests and locals alike. From delicious appetizers and fresh seafood to mouthwatering meats and delectable desserts, Taste is the perfect spot for a memorable Christmas feast on the river.
27 Soi Charoennakorn 17, Charoennakorn Road, Banglamphulang, Klongsan, 10600 Bangkok