How to survive celebrating christmas away from home

Our first Christmas away from home, friends and family in sunny Thailand – what did we do?

Hi folks and Merry Christmas!!!

Regardless if you had a proper Christmas gathering with your family back home, stuffing your empty bellies with turkey and other delights and warming up on a nice cup of mulled wine or if you spend it with friends and/or random strangers on the beach in a sunny exotic destination, we trust you ALL had some fantastic days with lots of food, fun and laughter 🙂

To be honest I (one of the biggest fans of Christmas EVER) was slightly worried about this year’s Christmas celebration. We would be in Chiang Mai in the North of Thailand which, despite being super gorgeous and such a great place to be on any other day of the year, seemed to have its challenges when it comes to spending your beloved Christmas there.

Similar to probably any other Christmas getaway to an exotic location, you would have to work out what it would be like to not having your family around, no delicious home-cooked food on the table, no nicely decorated Christmas tree in the living room, no mulled wine to warm you up after a long walk through a white, cold winter wonderland. Actually, here I had none of the typical christmassy stuff that I’m used to and that I just happen to love…like…A LOT!

So how does someone like me survive the Christmas season without family, in a country where they actually don’t celebrate Christmas, at a temperature that feels like middle of July and with a boyfriend, that – to put it nicely – is not such a strong lover of the festive season as I am. Well I’m going to tell you. 🙂

1) Get your boyfriend on board the Christmas ship.
First I had to get Martin into the Christmas mood as he was basically the only one around that I know from back home. So if he is not celebrating Christmas, I would probably not celebrate Christmas either and I was not ready to give up on Christmas just like that! So we had a nice little chat and I made it super crystal clear to my cute little gringe that he better doesn’t f*** this up for me! 🙂 He got the message.

2) Before Christmas: Get into the Christmas mood.
Now, without the proper decoration, a missing Christmas tree (or as being surrounded by palm trees any tree that resembled at least slightly a cone tree) and without all the good food, you really have to get creative if you want the Christmas spirit to find it’s way to you.

Here is a bit of help for directions and guidance:

  • Streaming radio stations that played the well-known Christmas classics or put together a list on YouTube of all your favourite Christmas songs.

    I just love listening to Christmas music so from mid-December onwards there was no stopping me! Luckily with good Wi-Fi here in Chiang Mai this is not an issue and you’ll easily find radio stations or your top Christmas songs on YouTube that you can listen to for HOURS, which Martin enjoyed A LOT 😉

  • Have your friends/family send you some of your favourite Christmassy foods and treats or order some delights yourself online

    (note: sorry to break it to you but you will have to stay away from the chocolaty stuff this Christmas – it won’t survive a day in the heat 🙁 , I tried it…it really…REALLY doesn’t)

    As I had been to Germany at the beginning of December for a couple of days I only booked hand luggage from Thailand to Germany but booked one 20kg check-in bag for my return flight knowing that this was meant for carrying as much food with me as possible.

    So I really did pack a WHOLE BAG for my return flight (yes that’s right, a whole 12kg bag!!!) that I filled with our favourite Christmas treats such has home-made cookies, Lebkuchen and well a lot of chocolate in every shape and form. (I believed with my special packing technique nothing could ever harm my chocolate santas…well seems the Airport stuff was on a mission to prove me wrong and managed to smash every single one of them! Grrr…

    Anyway, we still ended up with A LOT of treats and a lot of melting chocolate santa pieces which we had to eat in like a day but hey, I’m always up for a challenge. 🙂

  • Find a good pub/restaurant in your area that caters to expats that most likely will be decorated and if you are lucky, also play some Christmas tunes and serve food that fit the Christmas theme.

    We came across DASH in the old town of Chiang Mai which had a lovely Christmas decoration, live music and super delicious food (however mostly Thai dishes). Despite being a bit pricier than other restaurants in that area the money we spend was well worth it. We dined there twice before Christmas and the atmosphere always gave us a very Christmassy feel.

  • Research some fun activities which you could do on Christmas, something special that you will still remember next year and book accordingly. The earlier the better as most tours / activities / classes will soon be sold out.

    As soon as we arrived in Chiang Mai I loaded up on flyers and researched some activities online which we could potentially do for Christmas day. We ended up deciding to do a Thai cooking course as we kinda liked the idea to cook our own Christmas feast this year. Turns out, BEST decision ever!!!

3) On Christmas – enjoy yourself!
On Christmas it’s all about doing something fun or special such as going on a cool tour to explore the area, or doing an activity which you haven’t done before and which will automatically make the day super special.

You can also go out for some good food and drinks or simply relax on the beach or the pool with your favourite book – anything really that will guarantee that you’ll have an awesome time! Because you deserve it and this is what it’s all about, no stress, not work! Just enjoy yourself and have a laugh!

As mentioned before we opted for a Thai cooking course, which was just the perfect thing to do. Have a look at our full review on our cooking feast with the ZABB-E-LEE COOKING SCHOOL in Chiang Mai. After cooking for hours and eating waaaay to much food we felt completely exhausted but super full and happy – just like on any other “regular” Christmas! 🙂


When we returned to our hotel we started our pc’s – not to work but to call home. What would Christmas be without your family? Luckily in today’s digital age your family is always just a skype call away, so you always have the option to see your friends and family on Christmas – even if it’s just via Skype.

In the evening we went out for some drinks in the old town. No more food, we were still full from the five dishes we ate for lunch. A few Mai Thais later (our mulled wine replacement 🙂 ) and in a very good mood we headed back home, turned the AC to full power, snuggled up under our blankets and watched a traditional Christmas movie. Damn, this really felt like Christmas!

In the end celebrating Christmas in Thailand, turned out not to be as bad as I thought it would and actually did feel very Christmassy after all! But we really need to decide whether to continue with this new tradition of an exotic Christmas celebration or if we go back to the frosty cold next year, because nothing beats some awesome home-cooked food, sitting together around a warm fireplace after some fun in the snow and your hands wrapped around a huge mug filled with hot egg nogg or mulled wine!


And what about you?? What do you typically do for Christmas and did you ever celebrate Christmas away from home, friends and family?? Tell us about it, we’d love to hear your story!