For most of European and North American people, Christmas is a winter holiday, helping to add some sparkle to the long and dreary December evenings. Traditional festivities and costumes seem to be made for cold weather: the satisfyingly rich food, the warm spices of mulled wine, fur-lined Santa hats, the garishly bright decorations and the sharp notes of carols on a crisp, chilly morning.
The seasonal decorations are about as far as most Thai people will go to acknowledge the Yuletide festival (although the song, ‘Jingle Bells’, is very popular and is taught in schools all year round). Some people will give presents, this is a fairly recent phenomenon, and tends to take place around New Year. Festivities are mainly reserved for shopping centers, private parties and restaurants serving special holiday set menus.
For most of the Thai population, Christmas is just a day like any other, which is perfect if you have come abroad to escape the excesses of turkey and mince pies. The vast majority of local tour companies and activity centers will be operating a normal schedule, so you can, if you wish, choose to spend your Christmas Day diving, kayaking, rock-climbing or simply pick-nicking on your favorite island without the spectre of Santa Claus looming on the horizon. Shops and banks will also be open for business as usual.
Travel agents and big hotels often assume that you wish to celebrate as if you were at home and it is also possible to do so (minus the freezing weather). Most attempts to stage festivities for guests are usually following the formula of a buffet meal, with a few games, a band and schoolgirls Thai dancing.
Whereas Christmas passes virtually unnoticed in Thailand, New Year (both 31 December and 1 January) is a public holiday and an excuse for wild partying. ‘Pi mai’, as the new year is known in Thai, is one of the year’s biggest celebrations, uniting all ages and religions. The bars, restaurants and hotels in Krabi will be rising to the occasion. If you are not tied in to a Gala Dinner, we would advise heading down to the nearest beach, where you will be able to see all the fireworks from the hotel celebrations, as well as float your own fire balloon for good luck in the coming year.
Here are some tips for making the most of the New Year celebrations, as well as some advice about staying safe through the holiday:
- Both December 31st and January 1st are public holidays, and the New Year is widely celebrated across the kingdom.
- There is a countdown being held at Nopparat Thara Beach on 31 December, along with a market fair.
- For the youngsters and young at heart, post-midnight, there will be parties in most areas; try Tonsai for a beach party, Luna Bar for the dancefloor or Center Point Plaza for live bands.
- If possible, avoid drivinganywhere on New Year’s Eve. If you must, please be extra careful on the roads. Drink-driving is very common here and accidents, often fatal, increase exponentially during this time of year.
- Stuck for a New Year’s resolution? Make one to visit (or revisit) one of the most beautiful places on Earth: Krabi. You won’t regret it.