New Year’s Eve in Bangkok: Where to go, what to do?

New Year’s Eve in Bangkok: Where to go, what to do?

Drink till you drop, make merit or stay home. The choice is yours on December 31
New Year's Eve in Bangkok
CentralWorld's "Hands Bangkok Countdown 2010" is expected to attract thousands of party goers and will feature performances by top Thai artists.

Whether you’re a homebody who would rather ring in 2010 with friends and family or a wild partier who can’t bear to spend January 1 without a raging hangover, New Year’s Eve in Bangkok has something for everybody. Here are the five top things to do on December 31 as we say “sawasdee” to a new decade:

1. Go clubbing

As expected, most of Bangkok’s nightclubs are going full out with their end of the decade celebrations. These include famed party neighborhoods Ekamai, Thonglor, RCA, Khao San Road, Silom Soi 4 and Sukhumvit Road. The bars will be packed, but tickets are still available for most venues at the door.

Following last year’s horrific Santika New Year’s Eve fire tragedy, Bangkok’s top clubs are now stressing that their buildings are all up to code. For instance, the popular Nunglen in Ekamai has installed non-flammable soundproof systems while Thonglor’s Funky Villa added four fire escapes to their building plan. Security will be tight on New Year’s Eve too, with bouncers probing for fireworks and firecrackers at the door.

2. Indulge

Many highend Bangkok restaurants are offering a special New Year’s Eve set multi-course meal or massive buffet where you can dine and count down, though be warned. Prices are often four times more expensive than on a regular day, though there are added treats like freeflow champagne and entertainment.

Pretty much every five-star hotel in the city is doing something extravagant. And most still have space left. If you’re not sure where to go but know you want gourmet dining, check out one of the usual Bangkok mainstays: Plaza Athenee, lebua, Intercontinental, Dusit or Centara Grand. Make sure you call ahead for info and reservations.

3. Make merit

Yes, we’re serious about this. For many Thais, it’s a tradition to make merit on New Year’s Eve. Buddhist worshippers gather at Wat Sraket over at the wonderfully-decorated Golden Mountain with New Year’s gifts for the monks. Be there by 8pm for the candlelight ceremony. General ceremonies will start early from 4pm and continue into the New Year. Click here for the full schedule of events, though it’s only available in Thai.

4. Celebrate with the masses

Bangkokians will be gathering at large venues around the city to enjoy the countdown and fireworks, many featuring huge screens and massive crowds. These include Sanam Luang, CentralWorld and the Golden Mountain. There will be concerts, shows and speeches, as well as local celebrities and important political figures. You might even want to find a space on the river near Saphan Taksin, where an incredible fireworks display lights up the night at midnight. The best views can be found on the terraces of the ‘big three’ riverside hotels: The Peninsula, Shangri-La and Mandarin Oriental, which all have special New Year's Eve events planned.

5. Stay in

Forget the crowds, the battles for taxis and super inflated prices and enjoy the countdown from the privacy of your home/hotel room. Thai TV channels will be broadcasting the countdown live from all the city’s major celebration venues. So gather your folks, pop open a couple of bottles of champagne, say "happy New Year" to each other and go to bed. Sounds cozy to us. And best of all, no hangover the next day.

Than is probably the youngest contributor to CNNGo Bangkok. He’s armed with a bachelor in telecommunications engineering and is pursuing a master's in entrepreneurship. He has been blogging personally for a few years, generally rants on whatever in his life at the moment. On CNNGo, he usually writes pieces on partying, playing, backpacking, some interviews, and whatever Bangkok kids are doing.

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