Although Thailand is a Buddhist country with 95% of the population professing the Buddhist faith, anyone arriving here in the run-up to Christmas might be forgiven for doubting this. The astounded visitor will find the supermarkets and shopping malls filled with Christmas glitter and lights, and resounding to the melodies of Jingle Bells. They may even spot a resident Thai Santa Claus!
Christmas in Thailand
The Thai people are very tolerant of other people’s religions and cultures. They also enjoy a good party and, though they may be a little unsure about the exact spiritual or historical significance of Christmas, they are anxious to take part in the festivities. Thai business people, particularly hoteliers, retailers and those connected with the tourist trade are also keenly aware of the economic opportunities provided by the festival. As for those people from Western countries who come to Thailand at this time, they find Thailand to be the perfect place to enjoy Christmas. They can get all of the fun and festive spirit without any of the icy weather. Plus, as Christmas is not actually a public holiday in Thailand, everywhere they might want to go to stays open.
Christmas in Phuket
Phuket is very popular at this time of year. Christmas and New Year have been described as the highest of high seasons, so it is essential to book ahead. This holds true for flights as well as accommodation. Most of the larger hotels and resorts in Phuket will be doing Christmas packages. In effect this means that Christmas Dinner and any other special seasonal catering is included in the package whether or not you choose to take advantage of it. Those more independent travelers, or those travelers on a budget, may find it cheaper to book their Christmas meal separately, as most hotels and resorts will offer these to non-residents, often at very attractive rates.
Christmas Party in Phuket
One place certain to offer a traditional English Christmas atmosphere is The Green Man, described as the only English Tudor-style pub in Asia. At midnight on Christmas Eve there will be carol singing, led by a choir. On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day a traditional turkey dinner will be served, with Father Christmas making a guest appearance. On Boxing Day, a Christmas pantomime will be performed. Six Senses Resort will be putting on a Christmas Eve Gala with live jazz, carols and Christmas dinner, accompanied by glu wine and cocktails. Other venues for Christmas festivities can be found in the local Phuket press.
New Year in Phuket
Being a Buddhist country, Christmas is not a public holiday in Thailand. However, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day is. This year (2010), because New Year’s Day falls on a Saturday, there will be a long weekend, lasting from Friday to Monday. This holiday is very popular with Thai people, so the warning about booking in good time is even more appropriate here. Expect the bigger hotels and resorts to organize packages similar to their Christmas packages. As usual, The Green Man will be putting on a dinner and fancy dress party. The White Box Restaurant is organizing a jazz band and firework display. The upscale Chandra Resort will have a beach party with live music and fireworks. This will cost you 4,500 baht. You can, however, have plenty of fun for free. Karon Beach has one of the best firework displays. At midnight hundreds of khom loy or fire lanterns will be floated off into the night sky. This amazing spectacle will cost you nothing.