Thai people celebrate New Year’s three times a year: for the Thai New Year (in April), the Chinese New Year (in February), and the western New Year (on January 1st), so they’re used to throwing huge, city-wide celebrations across Bangkok. There’s something in Bangkok for everyone, young and old, sure to tickle your sense of merriment no matter who you are.
For those interested in traditional Thai culture, Sanam Luang is where you’ll want to go. Sanam Luang is a gigantic field just outside the Grand Palace, surrounded by temples, in the historic Phra Nakhon district along the Chao Praya River. A huge stage will be set up, and performances by traditional singers, dancers, and musicians will go on all night. Stalls serving amazing food and drink from all over the country are also set up in Sanam Luang, and all the temples surrounding the field are lit up in bright reds, golds, and greens. You’ll typically get an older crowd here, but the party atmosphere is still palpable, as everyone wants to ring in the New Year with style. Just outside Sanam Luang is one of the most popular restaurants in Bangkok, The Deck by the River. With views across the Chao Praya to the sumptuously lit Wat Arun temple, make sure to get your reservation early.
Most of the riverside celebrations in Bangkok are so popular that early reservations are in order. In addition to restaurants like The Deck by the River, travelers can also take a river cruise down the Chao Praya. What better way to ring in the new year than a romantic dinner, light entertainment, dancing, then standing on the side of a river barge, watching fireworks explode over your head?
If you’re staying at one of the posh riverside hotels in Bangkok, you will likely gain access to some of the wildest parties in Bangkok. The gala dinners put on by the hotels include private classical dance performances, top-quality food, exquisite light and flower arrangements and, of course, lots of freely-flowing alcohol until midnight.
Not into traditional celebrations? Bangkok is famous for its nightclubs, and no matter what you’re looking for, if you love to get dressed up, dance and party, you’ll find it on New Year’s Eve. Whether you’re about upscale, costumed nightlife spots such as the Q Bar, or you’re looking for a younger crowd at the clubs along Silom Road and the Royal City Avenue (RCA) in downtown Bangkok, the parties are sure to be lush with alcohol and beautiful people getting down. The city is also famous for its go-go bars, if you’re looking for a raunchy, sordid New Year’s Eve. The gay scene at Silom’s Soi 2 and 4 districts is world-renowned, with a colorful cast of flirtatious bartenders and club workers, and is sure to be a night filled with hilarity and sensuality.
If you’re more into the street party scene, backpackers through Bangkok love to ring in the New Year on Khao San Road. Arguably as good as a deluxe hotel buffet, for a fraction of the price, the endless food stalls in the ghettos of Khao San offer everything from banana pancakes to cheap cocktails, with great people-watching experiences to be had as well.
The night bazaar at Suan Lum also offers New Year’s party opportunities for those on a budget, and is known for its music scene. Up-and-coming musicians often perform for free on New Year’s Eve at Suan Lum, making it a perfect place to check out the burgeoning local Thai culture outside of traditional music and dance.