Dare to escape snowy Europe to spend Christmas in Thailand?


How many of you dream about a white Christmas? Anyone out there thought of escaping winter to spend Christmas in Thailand? I know, I know, it’s pretty hard to imagine to feel the Christmas spirit wearing bikini and swim shorts or at least short sleeves, or is it?

When your thoughts run through your head analysing the magic word Christmas, you instantly think of being cosy, surrounded by your longing family, succulent smell of crispy roast dinner, gigantic portions of guilt-free gooey desserts (huh, isn’t it what Christmas is about?) and Christmas gifts that you’ve been secretly waiting for just to complain about them shortly after.

 It’s a great opportunity to reunite with your family members after all but what if you feel a little different this year and are wanting to trade off your cold and dark December days for a summer feel?


Summer vibes in the middle of winter? Yep, jet off to another continent and you’ll feel like you’ve just won your time back from last summer.


Why would you want to spend Christmas in Thailand

I’ve got a simple answer for you. Because it’s so different. It’s as if you were suddenly thrown into this roasting hot spot. Yes, you’ve just escaped the cold European weather associated with warm jackets, winter boots and hats. So you are one up on the winter. In Asia, where Christmas is nowhere to be associated with stuffing your face with mince pies!

My heart wants to shout, in about 12 hours you can comfortably manage to leave cold Christmas and trade it off for the tropical palm trees and blazing hot, 12 hour sunshine. So here we were, sipping on the sensual, thirst quenching coconuts, spending our first and definitely not last Christmas in Thailand.


How big is Christmas in Thailand and other parts of SE Asia


If you’re looking to experience the companionship, Christmas carols in every shopping mall and omnipresent Christmas frenzy building up towards that special day, you won’t like what I’m going to tell you. Most South East Asian countries go about their usual, daily activities and don’t cater for tourists as much. Unless it’s a more prestigious hotel that caters towards Western type of clientele.


Chiang Mai’s Xmas only pop up Ping Fai festival makes you feel like you’ve come to one of the European Xmas markets, with the exception of more Asian selection and the summery weather!


What’s the weather like during Christmas in Thailand and SEA

I’ve already given it away at the beginning of this post but I thought it would be better to go into a bit more detail. Generally speaking, Asian winter is an equivalent to European summer with warm evenings and still very hot but pleasantly dry air and minimal rainfall. This is the most desirable weather in Asia and hence why it’s often referred to as high season, beginning in early December and ending in February.

Given that you’ve just escaped temperatures oscillating around 0 and often much below 0, you’ll be glad to experience this heat and not the one in March or April! Combining your holiday with Christmas in Thailand, who wouldn’t want that?

Keep an eye on the temperatures around different countries, parts of Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore might be pretty rainy and humid around that time! However, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos are pretty good. Not sure about the Philippines. Anyone? Generally, the closer you are to the equator, the more humid it gets but it won’t be unbearable (unless the changing seasons are a bit delayed and you’ll land in Asia in the middle of wet season!)

We spent Christmas in Chiang Mai, Thailand where the weather around that time would be closest to late Jun – July weather in the Mediterranean countries (pretty hot but pleasant and most importantly dry with clear skies throughout the day).


Our memories from spending Christmas in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Unforgettable. That’s because of how we planned it ourselves, not how Christmas is celebrated over there which can be portrayed as pretty unevenful. We stayed in the North of Thailand surrounded by the Lana culture in the remote highlands of Thailand. It was a pretty busy time for us as we spent a few days in the Chiang Rai province shortly before coming back down to Chiang Mai for Xmas.

I wouldn’t call it proper Christmas if it weren’t for the Christmas feast, ha! This feast was nothing else but traditional Thai cuisine from the north of Thailand, most commonly referred to as Khantoke dinner. You can read all about it here.


Here we are, celebrating Christmas day at a Khantoke dinner, embracing Lana culture, hill tribe performances and trying Northern Thai food delicacies.


Since in some European countries people tend to celebrate Xmas for 3 days, this time celebration time couldn’t any different but the vibe didn’t appear to be so Christmasy! Bigger cities in Asia have so many things on offer, with Chiang Mai being a great base for young, entrepreneurial expats who often choose to stay over Christmas who won’t run out of options for some slight Christmassy touch (remember, you won’t the European Christmas vibes here). 

You should definitely check out Ta Phae Gate and… the Christmas night market available only for a few days so snap this opportunity while it lasts! The local street food vendors and food quality was very good and probably catered more towards more privileged Thai hipsters in their 20s (that’s our perception) with plenty of good stuff going on, fire, live bands and loads of lights all around the market! 


Ping Fai festival is a good solution for those looking to spend a few hours enjoying the live music and fresh food that reminds me more of the Western Xmas markets than the ones seen in South East Asia. It doesn’t come at surprise to see so many young Thais and farangs visiting this pop up market.


Cherry Blossom Festival for Christmas? Make sure to organise a trip to Chiang Rai province

Ever dreamt of non-white but colourful Christmas? I’m sure you’ve never experienced pink Christmas before with overwhelmingly beautiful, snow-like cherry blossom fluff! If you are looking for a remote touch of Christmas spirit – head up north to the Chiang Rai province to see the spectacular Doi Mae Salong Cherry Blossom Festival which will leave you gobsmacked!

The festival starts just after Christmas, but you can be sure to see the entire village covered in cherry blossoms before the official start. You can rest assured that it is going to be part of a unique celebration with one of the most amazing views you will ever get to see at Christmas in your lifetime. 

Feeling guilty to leave your family at a Christmas table?

Christmas escape will be a nice change and can be quite educational. Depends on what you expect from travelling around that time of the year. If it’s a beach escape from the chaos of Christmas responsibility of having to get together with your family, you won’t regret a single moment!

Lively nightlife in Bangkok or Phuket will make you forget you’d be sitting at the Christmas table this very moment.  Chilled Chiang Mai would give you a nice cultural orientation where you won’t see priests but monks covered in their orange tainted robes. Other places during that time will be equally good.

I’d treat it as an experience and see how much you’ll miss being close to your family. If you like it, you’ll undeniably do it again and maybe convince others to join you.

If, however, during your Christmas escape in Asia you’ll feel that Asian countries are missing this significant aspect in their culture, then you’ll appreciate spending next Xmas at home, surrounded by your friends and family, reminiscing on your last year’s trip (surely this topic will come up at the dinner table) and cherishing the moments when you are reunited once again.

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I'm Celina, the owner of this blog. Stick around if you want to know about exotic food, how to manage your expenses during traveling and find out more about the places that are worth quitting your job for! We write about our observations from traveling as a couple and hope we can inspire you to do what we are doing!

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