Top 5 places to spend Christmas in Thailand

Dreaming of Christmas in Thailand? The cool season here starts in December. So a Thai Christmas break is a great idea. From Chiang Mai to buzzing Bangkok and the beaches of Ko Samui, here's our pick of Thailand's best Christmas destinations.
Ang Thong National Marine Park, Ko Samui, Thailand. Photo: lkuni/Shutterstock
Ang Thong National Marine Park, Ko Samui, Thailand. Photo: lkuni/Shutterstock

1. Bangkok is vibrant at Christmas

Bangkok is a must-do in Thailand, one of Southeast Asia’s most vibrant capitals it blends new and traditional effortlessly. So you'll find hip dining and nightlife here but also discover Buddhist temples, serpentine canals and lively, authentic street life. 

Don't miss the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew, Thailand’s most sacred temple and home to the Emerald Buddha. The city's largest temple, Wat Pho, is famous for its 46m long, golden, reclining Buddha. A river cruise on Thonburi’s canals is another unmissable experience, and always make time for Wat Sai and Taling Chan floating markets.

Prefer to leave planning and booking to experts? Have a look at some Thailand itineraries. All Tailor Made Trips can be modified together with your local expert, then booked for a stress-free vacation. Click  'Modify this itinerary' to contact a local Thailand expert.

Wat Arun, The Temple of Dawn, Bangkok. Photo: Luciano Mortula - LGM/Shutterstock

2. Ko Samui, a beachy Christmas in Thailand

Ko Samui sits in the Gulf of Thailand just off the east coast mainland and flights to the island from Bangkok only take an hour. 

The nearby islands of Ko Phangan and Koh Tao attract backpackers, but Ko Samui appeals to more upmarket travellers. These days luxury resorts dominate many of the island's scenic bays, blending seamlessly with palm-lined, white sand beaches. Yet Ko Samui’s natural beauty remains surprisingly intact and the vibe is still very laid-back. 

New, design-led restaurants open regularly here and it's also Thailand's top spa destination, so you can look forward to mix of opulent resort spas and lux independent spas. And naturally, sandy beaches are an island signature, but pay particular attention to Hat Chaweng and Hat Lamai.

If you feel active, try jungle treks in the interior and don't miss Na Mueang waterfalls. Go island hopping on a private long tail boat cruise and introduce a little heritage into your beach vacation. Or visit Ang Thong National Marine Park. This is by far the most popular Ko Samui day trip and with dozens of small islands, mesmerising views and activities like kayaking and snorkelling, it doesn't disappoint. 

Kuan Yin statue at Wat Plai Laem, Ko Samui. Colourful Christmas in Thailand. PAIRUT/Shutterstock

3. Chiang Mai, a cultured Thai Christmas

Northern Thailand is known for lush greenery and it's the area of mountains, hill tribes, outdoor activities and the remarkable regional capital, Chiang Mai, considered by most to be the cultural heart of Thailand. 

A charming city known for its gracious residents, Chiang Mai shouldn't be hurried, so linger over Lanna-Style temples, take time to explore museums and never rush the captivating night markets. 

Don't miss out on day trips either. Visit cliff-top Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, one of Thailand's most sacred pilgrimage sites. Discover the towns of Lamphun and Lampang, Chiang Mai's quaint and cultured neighbours. And make time to explore nearby river valleys and national parks, then indulge in Chiang Mai Old City with a stay at Chada Mantra Hotel.

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep temple, Chiang Mai. Photo: Punya/Shutterstock

4. Krabi, a relaxed Christmas break

Krabi is on southern Thailand's west coast. Known for limestone karsts and offshore islands, it's the ideal place to relax on unspoilt beaches and spend time snorkelling in the warm waters of the Andaman Sea. 

When you feel energetic, head inland to Khao Phanom Bencha National Park to see the immense 1,397m high limestone karst. Or visit Huay To waterfalls for the chance to spot Asiatic black bears. Krabi's also perfect for hopping to paradise islands like Ko Lanta and taking full-day speed boat trips to explore legendary Ko Phi Phi.

Railay Beach, Krabi, Thailand. Photo: Angyalosi Beata/Shutterstock

5. Pattaya, good value Christmas breaks

The resort city of Pattaya, just south of Bangkok, is popular with Thai families and foreign travellers like it for beaches, good value hotels and choice of indoor and outdoor activities. 

You'll find a wide range of restaurants here, as well as 24-hour cabaret clubs and bars. But, alongside its reputation for pulsating nightlife, Pattaya's also known for excellent water sports and diving trips to some of Thailand's best wreck sites are readily available here. 

Alternatively book a Ko Larn day trip and add a tropical island into your city vacation and for the best of all worlds, stay central at Pattaya Sea View Hotel.

Sanctuary of Truth temple, Pattaya, Thailand. Photo: YURY TARANIK/Shutterstock

Ready to take a trip to Thailand?

Insight Guides can help you plan incredible trips to Thailand. Simply get in touch to let us know your trip ideas and when you would like to travel. Our local experts will then create a personalised itinerary, which you can amend to suit yourself before booking. Browse our pre-planned itineraries for inspiration. Remember all trips can be tailored exactly to your needs.