The best things to do in Bangkok this winter

During the holiday season, this already crazy city is perhaps at its busiest and buzziest. These are the best things to do in Bangkok throughout December

Last updated: November 27, 2023
The best things to do in Bangkok | Bangkok Art Biennale
The Bangkok Art Biennale presents contemporary art across the city

Bangkok is no exception to the winter holidays. Don’t let the warm weather (yet admittedly chilly evenings) fool you – the city of lights has plenty to offer locals and visitors alike. We have curated the best things to do to ignite your holiday spirit throughout December, from festivals and light displays to after-hours revelry. For a complete guide to the Thai capital, delve into our Bangkok city guide.

The best things to do in Bangkok | Marcello Maloberti, on display at the Bangkok Art Biennale
CIELO by Milanese artist Marcello Maloberti, on display at Bangkok Art and Culture Centre

Bangkok Art Biennale (BAB)

What: Bangkok’s Contemporary Art Festival
When: October 22 2022 – February 23 2023
Where: 12 venues across Bangkok

The Bangkok Art Biennale presents more than 200 works by local and international artists in venues across the city, including Bangkok Art and Culture Centre; CentralwOrld, (Bangkok’s biggest shopping centre), and many of the riverfront temples and neighbouring Museum Siam. This year’s apt theme is CHAOS:CALM and aims to reflect pertinent issues and challenges faced by society at this time. Look out for photography by Robert Mapplethorpe and a significant multimedia installation by Ukrainian artist Zhanna Kadyrova. Alongside a roster of art, the festival includes educational conferences, workshops, talks, tours, and online programming.

The best things to do in Bangkok this winter | River City Bangkok illuminated by lights
River City Bangkok is bedecked with lights during the holiday season

River City Bangkok

What: an eclectic programme of arts and events
Where: 23 Soi Charoen Krung 24, Talat Noi, Samphanthawong, Bangkok 10100

This four-storey cultural and lifestyle centre in Bangkok is a mecca for antiques and art galleries. One can spend a whole day here perusing art, snacking from various food stalls, or even taking a boat tour to marvel a the beautiful view of the Chao Phraya River. You may not see snow in Thailand, but a new multimedia exhibition, When Snowflakes Fall, invites four artists to interpret the winter season. During December, the arts venue is bedecked with festive lights, which also makes it one of the most popular spots in Bangkok on New Year’s Eve.

The best things to do in Bangkok | the festive exterior of B Garden Cafe
B Garden Cafe in Bangkok is known for its seasonal facades

B-Story Garden Cafe

What: a destination cafe with an all-out festive facade
Where: B-Story Garden 33 25 Pradit Manutham Road, Lat Phrao, Bangkok 10230

During December, this three-storey European cafe is transformed into an enchanting garden straight out of a fairytale, which draws crowds for the holiday season. The apple garden, high ceilings, brick walls, and spacious interior are primed for an afternoon tea or larger family events. The chandeliers, fire place, and vintage piano offer ample photo opportunities, while Thai fusion dishes like Tom Yum Pasta or Duck Basil Rice do not disappoint.

The best things to do in Bangkok this winter | The stage lights up at 808 festival

808 Festival

What: A major electronic dance festival 
When: December 9 – 11, 2022
Where: Bangkok International Trade and Exhibition Centre, 8 Bangna-Trad Road (Km.1), Bangna, 10260, Bangkok
How much: from 4,050 THB / 113 USD

808 Festival is back this year after a hiatus during the pandemic. DJ Snake, Armin Van Buuren, Hardwell, and Zedd are headlining a festival full of world-class EDM artists and producers. The event takes place in the Bangkok International Trade and Exhibition Centre (BITEC), pumping with electronic beats. Early bird tickets are sold out but general tickets are still available.

The best things to do in Bangkok | rows of stalls at Srinagarindra Train Night Market
Srinagarindra Train Night Market

Chatuchak Weekend Market

What: one of the largest open-air markets in the world
When: Saturday and Sunday, 7am-6pm
Where: Kamphaeng Phet 2 Road, Chatuchak, Bangkok

One cannot come to Bangkok and not visit Chatuchak Market, which is one of the largest open-air markets in the world. Those on the hunt for gifts can pick from more than 15,000 stalls spread across 26 sections, with a dedicated electric train to take you from one side to the other. Explore everything from art, antiques and fashion to Thai massages and sizzling street food. You can spend a whole day here and still barely make a dent in the place. A short walk away is,the Srinagarindra Train Night Market, which is a fovourite amongst locals, brimming with vintage wares and antiques.

The best things to do in Bangkok this Christmas | IconSiam festive lights
A display at IconSiam mega-mall celebrates the reopening of Asia to international tourists

IconSiam Bangkok Illumination 2022

When: a resplendent lights display at IconSiam 
Where: IconSiam shopping mall, Siam Paragon, CentralWorld, Terminal 21, and Emquartier

To satiate any cravings for Christmas lights, you need only visit IconSiam, a high-end Bangkok mega-mall on the Chao Phraya river. This holiday season, it is illuminated by thousands upon thousands of festive lights, alongside a Christmas tree powered by solar energy. The magnificent display celebrates the reopening of Asia to international tourists. Elsewhere, centralwOrld shopping centre lays claim to Bangkok’s tallest Christmas tree, and Central Embassy has enlisted French artist Cyril Lancelin to create an inflatable Christmas tree installation.

The best bars in Bangkok | A cocktail served at Teens of Thailand
A gin-based cocktail at Teens of Thailand

Drinks in Soi Nana, Chinatown

What: Bangkok’s buzzing cocktail district, favoured by locals
Where: Khwaeng Pom Prap, Khet Pom Prap Sattru Phai, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10100

Come evening, head to Soi Nana for drinks, DJs and general nighttime revelry, to make merry for the holiday season. The unassuming set of alleyways on the edge of Chinatown is home to a buzzing web of bars and music venues. Teens of Thailand is touted as Bangkok’s first gin bar and rightly features in our guide to the best bars in Bangkok. Meanwhile, Ba Hao is housed in a renovated shop house and puts a unique spin on fusion dishes, with hotel rooms upstairs.

Read more: a local food lover’s guide to the best restaurants in Bangkok