Getting away from it all at Christmas can be a very appealing prospect, especially if that involves swapping jam-packed shops and cold drizzle for picture-perfect beaches, warm weather and delicious food that somebody else has cooked! Spending Christmas in Thailand is the perfect answer, as the festivities fall in the middle of high season, when Thai weather is at its best, from the beaches to Bangkok.
Our Thailand Specialists were pretty quick to answer when asked how they might spend their perfect Christmas in Thailand! You might even suspect they’d been thinking about it for a while...
'Book as early as possible to secure your favourite hotels (and those early booking deals), and to snap up the best flights. If you can, get your planning done in January, as airlines release their best fares up to 11 months in advance. If you’re not quite such a forward planner, don’t worry – we can put together a great Christmas holiday even if it is a bit last minute. But you will get much better value (and first choice of hotels and our guides) if you do it well in advance.
For Christmas dinner, I’d book a table at a good local restaurant. If you’re after something ‘traditional’, pretty much all major hotels have Christmas eve and NYE gala dinners, with entertainment and a buffet meal, but I prefer to head away from the crowds for the best Thai food I can find – local all the way.'
'If you want to spend Christmas in Bangkok, make it a really memorable one. Check into a swanky hotel, such as The Muse, book dinner in one of the city’s Michelin-starred restaurants, sip Christmas Eve bubbles in a rooftop bar and soak up the atmosphere with a cruise down the river.
Alternatively, if you’re looking to escape the rush, head for a remote beach where you can switch off, unplug and just bask in the sun. Snorkel in the shallows, graze on gorgeous food all day, and doze in the shade...'
'Ideally, I’d spend Christmas in Chiang Rai with a few nights at the Elephant Valley Project. You get to spend time with elephants, which is always amazing, and support a really worthwhile project. Hotels in northern Thailand also don’t always raise their prices as much over Christmas and New Year, making things a little more cost effective too. If I happened to be in Bangkok, I’d have a drink or two at the Adhere Blues Bar. It’s a really small bar with an intimate, friendly ambiance, and great live music. Pop open a Singha beer and raise a toast to the festive spirit.'
Whether you’re looking for indulgent luxury or a pared back eco-lodge by the sea, here are six hotels in Thailand where we’d love to wake up on Christmas day…
Spend Christmas on the Roof at this stylish waterfront hotel with the unbeatable backdrop of the illuminated Wat Pho reflecting in the river. Wake up to sunrise views of Bangkok’s eclectic skyline, head out for a walking tour of the city’s glittering Christmas lights, and treat yourself to a festive spa treatment at the hotel’s sister resort, Riva Surya.
Secluded villas surrounded by lush forest looking out over the curving bay of Ba Kan Tiang beach – if your perfect Thai Christmas is all about the paradise beach views, this gorgeous place is ideal. Choose the Deluxe option to give your Christmas that added level of luxury, then sit back and let the friendly staff make your stay truly memorable. Go snorkelling around Koh Rok, trek to stunning waterfalls, and take a boat ride through the mangroves for a Christmas full of tropical cheer.
Wake up in a floating tent to a Christmas sunrise over Cheow Larn Lake, as flocks of birds take flight above the water - before heading to Elephant Hills to spend time with the elephants themselves - certainly tops the charts for unique and memorable Christmas experiences! Kayak up quiet backwaters in search of gibbons, boat out to the middle of the lake, and swim in the pristine waters direct from your verandah.
For families with older kids, or adult travellers, the Tubkaak Boutique offers a quiet, sophisticated environment where you can celebrate the festive season in style. Chic chalets with private pools are surrounded by dense tropical gardens leading down to a postcard-perfect beach. Sitting on those golden sands looking out towards the Hong islands is, in our opinion, a winning way to spend Christmas.
If you want to drop out of everything for a while, cosy up in a treehouse-style cabin, overlooking gorgeous forest scenery and wild gardens, high in the Mae Chan mountains. Although it's lower on the super-luxury scale, this hotel scores high for sustainability, ensuring that your Christmas break leaves a light footprint. Go horseback trekking along mountain trails, treat yourself to a massage at the spa, and turn the festive up to 11 at the Christmas Eve Gala.
December is peak season in Phuket, when the weather is at its best – clear, sunny skies with a breeze to keep the temperature just right. Spend Christmas enjoying quieter side of the island at the gorgeous Surin resort. Hunker down in a Deluxe cottage right on the beach (which you won’t have to share with many, even during high season), enjoy the views from your private sundeck and let everyday stresses drift away with a festive treat at the spa.