This is peak tourist season with clear skies, perfect weather, crowded beaches and hordes of visitors and locals in holiday mood. Remember to book well in advance, especially if you want to do a budget trip.
Thailand Best Sellers
North (Chiang Mai, Kanchanaburi)
A festival with a conscience, and a mission! The Chiang Mai Red Cross and Winter Fair is one Thai festival that brings fun and charity together on a material as opposed to spiritual plane. It is held behind City Hall in Mae Rim and runs from end December to mid January every year. The aim of the festival is to raise money and donate it to charities, especially the Red Cross. The organizers do this by organizing a huge charity drive inviting the donation of goods, then selling the items in a good old fashioned raffle.
Enjoy the good deed of contributing with a bit of handicrafts shopping and sampling of Thai food. For the kids and the whimsical, there is a giant inflatable slide, ferris wheel, miniature rail-ride, shooting gallery, outdoor cinema and yes, arcade games.
Other highlights are the Miss Chiang Mai Beauty pageant whose winner is announced on the tenth and final day; as well as live music and dance, and presentations by hill tribes.
December 5th is the birthday of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the monarch of Thailand. It is a national holiday and is celebrated all over the country as Father’s day. Thai people throughout the country wear yellow, gather at the city hall in their province, light candles and sing praises of the King while wishing him a long life.
Chiang Mai Best Sellers
Central region (Bangkok)
Not just people but public structures and homes across the country are dressed up in yellow flags and lights. Bangkok, especially the Grand Palace is a sight to behold with its festooning of flowers. The skies light up at night with fireworks in every direction.
Bangkok is easily the best place to enjoy the celebrations. Know that streets around Sanam Luang and Ratchadamnoen are shut down to all traffic but pedestrians. Lace up your shoes, bring some water, and make sure there’s space left on your device for photographs!
Also in Bangkok is Bang Krachao, a lesser known artificial island that serves as the city’s secret “green lung.” The island boasts coconut trees, little villages and Buddhist temples. Take a bicycle tour through this uncanny island if you’re marooned in Bangkok for whatever reason.
Bangkok Best Sellers
South (Phuket, Krabi, Hat Yai, Hua Hin)
The upside down house in Baan Teelanka, Phuket is nothing like you’ve ever seen! The venue offers three unique experiences – the inverted house, an escape room game and a garden maze. This is a fun activity for families and friends and makes for great photo ops that you can confuse your loved ones with back home.
Do you consider yourself a true blue music lover? Swayed by melody regardless of the words used? If so, you must head down south to Phetchaburi for one of the oldest and most iconic music festivals in the Land of Smiles: the Big Mountain Music Festival.
One of the biggest outdoor music festivals in Southeast Asia, the festival has seen attendance shoot up from 20,000 in the first year to 70,000 in 2014, just three years later. A great deal of the credit goes to GMM Grammy, the company that envisioned the festival as a way of encouraging and of course making money off of local talent.
The festival was originally held at the eponymous Big Mountain or Khao Yai, but grew so big that organizers had to relocate it to the Kaeng Krachan Country Club Phetchaburi. It kept growing and today, the festival is held at a hotel, The Ocean Khao Yai in Nakhonratchasima Province with a jam-packed schedule. You have just two days to make the most of eight stages with over 200 artists!
Indie and independent music lovers will appreciate the dedication of the organizers to preserving and growing the Thai music scene. In fact, they are clear they do not want to dilute the festival by bringing in international acts. And in another testament to the intent of the organizers, music lovers can not only groove to the music but also learn about acoustics, hardware and the like.
Best of all are the insane pyrotechnics on stage with inflatable dinosaurs, stage scaffolding resembling a spiders web, mesmerizing light shows and awe inspiring fireworks. Quality surround sound entertainment with drama, check, check and check.
Phuket Best Sellers
You can expect only Hallmark style celebrations with malls setting up Christmas trees and the like. The one exception is Sakhon Nakhon in Isan, home to Thailand’s largest Christian populace. They have a heartwarming Christmas Star Parade from the 23-25th, with cultural and religious activities for everyone.
End the year with a bang at a new year party anywhere in the Land of Smiles.