For the first few years I lived in Thailand, I didn't really give the Christmas season much thought; it's never been my favourite holiday, but it was always nice to see the family, get a taste of a few seasonal treats, and watch the classic Christmas cartoons of the past. If you're stuck in Bangkok for the holiday season, though, there are still a few great spots to get a "taste of home," literally and figuratively, as I hear so many say.
As an expat in Bangkok, honestly there are very few things you can't get "from home" these days, but the Christmas season does tend to bring out the wants for those hard-to-find items and typically-Christmas things to do. I'm lucky that now I have several weeks off around these holidays, but I fully realise there are many that don't even get Christmas itself off; for those and newcomers to Bangkok, here's a few spots I'd recommend to get that fuzzy-wuzzy feeling (in between egg nog cocktails):
It's hard to beat Villa Market (specifically, the Thong Lo branch at J Avenue because not all Villas are created equally) for holiday specialties. They even have egg nog on hand-only one brand, imported from Australia-but it's better than nothing!
For a high price, you can get full-on Christmas hams and turkeys, and they have a surprising array of holiday treats (candies, baked goods, etc.) that one wouldn't expect to find in Bangkok.
Alternatives to Villa, holiday-wise, are definitely Gourmet Market (specifically EmQuartier-far better selection than Terminal 21) and the Central Food Hall (top floor of Central World). It won't be cheap, but if you need that nutmeg fix or even imported Christmas stout, it can likely be found!
All of the major Bangkok hotels offer some kind of holiday lunch/dinner special at various points around the holidays; personally, I'm not willing (or able) to pay the 5-star prices for these buffets and set dinners. However, if you're keen, the table booking app Eatigo (Android/iPhone) can offer some great discounts if you're willing to not book a "standard" time, and a few other new-on-the-block restaurants (such as the new American-style diner City Skyline around Asok) offer affordable set dinners in the coming weeks. I'd check BK Magazine's website, as they tend to advertise places I've never even heard of (albeit usually pricey).
Seeing the lights
This year's holiday festivities are obviously muted for the mourning of the late King, but Central World and the whole Ratchaprasong district (Central Chidlom, Gaysorn, etc.) has put on a spectacular array of decorations this year in memorial. Expect huge crowds every night as the white-and-yellow themed decorations are lit up, but you've got to hand it to Bangkok: it often out-classes even big-player decorators like New York in many regards.
Aside from the photo ops in the city's business district, though, you're pretty much limited to the major shopping malls for decorations and lights.
Thailand is well-known for its celebration of basically any holiday that comes around from any place (marketing ploy or not), and Bangkok certainly knows how to get festive. Even if you don't have much time off over the holidays, it's well worth a jaunt around town to see what's happening before escaping the city for a spell, if for no other reason than to enjoy the quite rare enjoyable temperatures.
Happy holidays everyone!
I hope you enjoyed my blog. If you would like to get in touch or perhaps e-mail me with a question, I would love to hear from you - All the best, Sam Thompson.