Though the decorations went up a little later than usual this year, and in general felt scaled back compared to previous years due to horrific floods in the suburbs (and, of course, other parts of the country), Bangkok is such a fun place to be during the winter holiday season.
Wait: aren’t most Thais Buddhist? Do they celebrate Christmas?
Yes, about 95% of Thailand’s population are Buddhist, and yes, they still celebrate Christmas anyway. Well, that’s not entirely accurate: they celebrate the commercialism of Christmas, the cuteness of Christmas, and the unending photo ops of Christmas. The fun parts. (Besides, hasn’t Christmas sort of become somewhat of a non-secular holiday anyway?) The actual day itself doesn’t really mean much and isn’t a formal holiday: it’s business as usual for most stores and restaurants, and everybody still goes to work.
Still, Christmas is everywhere: the music is on repeat in what feels like every single convenience store, shop, and restaurant, sales galore in the shopping malls, and best of all, central Bangkok is decked out to the nines–and camera-toting Thais absolutely eat it up.
CentralWorld Plaza, a place you know I harbor a mild fascination with if you’ve been paying attention, is one of my favorite places in the city to take it all in, and specifically to watch the locals unabashedly strike their cheesiest poses with the holiday props. This year’s display has been dubbed “The World of Happiness” and is centered around teddy bears. Amazing.
This one is outdoors in the plaza facing Rajdamri Road:
This guy is just inside the mall entrance:
Awww, aren’t they cute?
Of course, on the other end of the plaza is a Chang beer garden, though I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s a bit disappointed that this year they’re only stocking watered-down Chang Export and not the good stuff, Chang Classic. (The Chang factory suffered significant damage from the floods, so I think there’s still somewhat of a shortage on Classic.) Singha, Federbrau, and Tiger beers usually set up pop-up beer gardens alongside Chang during November and December, but again, the floods are likely to blame for their absence.
These guys, below, are part of the “Sweets Land” display kitty corner from CentralWorld at Amarin Plaza. I’m still not sure what that little green guy is supposed to be, but it doesn’t matter: he’s cute and you can take your photo next to him, and that’s essentially the essence of Christmas in Bangkok.