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Planning a Family Holiday to Southeast Asia? 20 Expert Tips for Christmas 2023

Planning a Family Holiday to Southeast Asia? 20 Expert Tips for Christmas 2023

By CindyUpdated Jul. 14, 2023

How are you going to spend Christmas this year? Stay at home (as you have for the past two years), dress up a Christmas tree, and do the same old things as every year?

You need a real vacation! Reward yourself for a year of hard work, enjoy a more exotic family time, and create wonderful childhood memories for your children.

Imagine yourself under the clear sky, stretched out luxuriously on the beach with a Martini, seeing your children running freely on the soft sand. Or imagine yourself under warm candlelight in a jungle, while eating perfectly-roasted Thai prawns, your family excitedly sharing the highlights of your close contact with elephants during the day.

southeast asia christmas trip

If this sounds like your dream holiday, Southeast Asia, especially Thailand, is a dream destination — with loads of experiences that cater to all ages, welcoming travel policies, warm and dry December skies, and cost-effective prices.

However, planning an ideal trip is a headache. It needs a lot of research, comparisons, and choice-making. Everyone in your family will have their own wants, often conflicting and uncompromising!

Destinations — new and appealing, experiences — unlimited, food — excellent, hotels — the best, people — friendly, restrictions — none, flight journey — acceptable, educational, meaningful, ethnic, and most importantly — affordable...

Is that possible? Yes! Read on for tips from Asia Highlights, the experts in Asia experiences, who are good at and enjoy planning complicated trips for families and couples, and have done so for over 20 years. We are here to help you make your dream trip happen — enjoyably and hassle-free.

southeast asia christmas trip

6 Reasons to Celebrate Christmas in Southeast Asia

1. Perfect Weather — a Warm Christmas!

From December onwards, you are almost guaranteed dry and warm conditions in Southeast Asia. December temperatures average 24–30°C (75–86°F). It is the best time to travel in Southeast Asia, with blue skies and sunshine and if you're near the coast, beautiful white sandy beaches.

2. Budget Friendly

Although travel prices usually increase by 10–20% in the Christmas season, Southeast Asia, represented by Thailand, is one of the world's most cost-effective destinations compared with other destinations such as the USA, Europe, or Japan.

You can spend around 10 bucks for lunch per person and US$20 to 50 for a nice dinner, and stay in a 4-star hotel for 100 USD or less.

3. Diverse and Interesting Activities for Kids and for the Whole Family

Southeast Asia has something for each and every age range! Whether it's bathing with elephants, snorkeling and kayaking among tropical fish, canoeing into caves, hiking in national parks, cooking and eating local food, shopping, or so much more, Southeast Asia knows how to deliver a memorable family holiday.

See 45 Ultimate Things to Do in Southeast Asia.

southeast asia christmas trip

4. Plenty of Family-Friendly Hotels and Resorts

Southeast Asia countries, especially Thailand, boast world-class family-friendly hotels and resorts to suit every type of clan, from smart urban resorts to beach retreats to jungle hideaways, supplying excellent facilities like kids' clubs and pools, family-focused activities, and services extending to babysitting, all at great value.

5. Strong Festive Spirit

Many malls and hotels in large cities such as Bangkok will be decked out with Christmas trees and decorations. Many hotels and restaurants usually have Christmas / New Year dinners, buffets, and feasts to cater to guests.

See the Best Places to Celebrate New Year 2023 in Southeast Asia for inspiration.

6. Incredibly Safe

Southeast Asia is one of the safest regions in the world. People are nice, respectful, and friendly. You are unlikely to face any physical danger, as activities and facilities are well run, and it's very rare to hear of robbery or scams in the more-family-orientated areas.

A Southeast Asia Overview for a Shorter Vacation

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Tips for Timing Your Trip

Christmas holiday is the most busy and expensive period of the year, but if your trip is planned well, you can maximize both your time and budget.

1. Plan your trip length.

Christmas breaks in SE Asia are usually 2–3 weeks long. This is ideal for a 10–15-day Southeast Asia trip covering one to three countries.

Of bookings we received in 2022, the most common family Christmas trips to SE Asia depart from home on December 17th or 18th, and return between January 3rd and 6th, spending 7–10 days on destination discovery and 3–5 days on leisure at a beach.

2 weeks in Southeast Asia offers many choices. You can choose to spend 2 weeks to fully explore one destination, like a 9-Day Thailand Family Tour or a 15-Day Vietnam Family Holiday Tour.

Visiting two countries in 2 weeks is also suitable at a comfortable pace. Our 14-Day Classic Vietnam and Thailand Tour is the most popular option. You could also see more itinerary options for 2 weeks in Vietnam and Cambodia.

Visiting three countries in 2 weeks is also possible. The most classic combo is Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia.

Suggested to read: How Long to Spend in Southeast Asia (for First Timers)

southeast asia christmas trip

2. Plan your flight time.

For air travel, the cheapest time to fly is on Christmas Day followed by Christmas Eve. Most people choose to depart slightly earlier, between December 21–23. The best time to plan your flights during Christmastime is December 24th to 29th for less expense and less crowding.

It is cheaper to book your return flight around New Year's Day, on December 31st or January 1st.

3. The best time to book.

The best time to book usually depends on two factors:

Best time to book flights:

The best time is when you can book a suitable ticket (such as economy class for less than 1,500 USD and a journey of less than 20 hours including stopovers). This is usually 3–6 months in advance.

Another best time is now, as COVID restrictions are lifted and travel becomes closer to pre-pandemic levels, prices for the Christmas season will only get higher and higher.

Best time to book a family-friendly hotel:

One of the peak travel times in Thailand this year is around Yi Peng Festival in November. Hotels in the ancient city of Chiang Mai were fully-booked around the festival time in September.

Expect the same for seaside hotels during the Christmas season, with popular hotels booked up about two months in advance. 

We promise you enjoy 100% refund of any payments made to China Highlights prior to 3 weeks before departure (detail⇒).

The good news is that there are plenty of hotel options on SE Asia's big islands.

Check out the best weather on our Best Times to Visit Southeast AsiaVietnam and Cambodia, and Thailand and Vietnam.

The Best Southeast Asia Tour for First-timers

Tips to Maximize Your Travel Budget

Taking the family on holiday may seem like it must hurt your pocket, but it doesn't always have to. With some careful planning and useful travel tips, you'll be amazed by how much money you can save.

1. Choose the cheapest days to fly.

As mentioned before, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year Eve, and New Year's Day are the cheapest days to fly. Even adjusting your dates by a day or two can sometimes make a big difference.

According to the info we have collected for our family customers, air tickets departing December 17–18 are usually the most expensive in the whole of December. There is no obvious peak time for return air tickets.

Our customers usually make the following choices according to their own circumstances:

  • 1. If your travel dates are not flexible: expect to pay around 2,000 USD per person.
  • 2. If your travel dates are flexible within 2 to 3 days: we recommend delaying departure till December 20 to 22, which may be cheaper.
  • 3. If your travel dates are flexible: Depart on December 25 or 26, which is usually cheapest.

Let us know your schedule and we'll find the best flights for you.

2. Choose the right transfer city.

There is no direct flight from the Americas to Southeast Asia. You'll need at least one stopover to get to Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, etc. (Direct flights to Singapore are available, for example, taking about 15 hours.)

According to our experience, in terms of price, time of flight, and comfort, flying via Seoul (especially with Korean Air) is the best choice. The second is via Taipei, Hong Kong, or Dubai.

3. A private tour can be a time/cost-effective option.

A family trip during the Christmas period will naturally involve some expenses and troublesome organizing. Booking a private tour through a tour operator, like ourselves, is a great way to free yourself from the tedious details and let the professionals maximize your budget.

A private tour is an affordable luxury in Southeast Asia, where private service is value for money! For reference, it costs about $200–250 per person per day, based on 3–5 persons and 4–5-star hotels, including a private guide, private van, sightseeing, accommodation, domestic flights, etc. Check out some of our private tours to get a general idea of the cost.

We also offer a variety of full/semi-private options, such as an all-inclusive private tour including international flights and hotels, private touring in some destinations with free days at the beaches, or private touring for sightseeing only.

As a local travel agent, we are experts in wanderlust, and have relationships with local people/companies that lead to a better vacation. This could include saving money on tickets to events, helping you get an upgrade on a flight or hotel, and having a go-to person if any hiccups happen.

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southeast asia christmas trip

4. Settle for less-expensive cities or towns if possible.

Hotel prices climb quickly in the days leading up to Christmas and New Year's Eve. This is especially true in popular destinations, such as Bangkok and Phuket.

Luxury hotels and beach resorts often impose minimum-stay restrictions (usually more than 3 nights), and a compulsory dinner on the day of Christmas and New Year's Eve.

If possible, on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve, and New Year's Day, settling for less-expensive cities or towns could save you a massive sum. For example, you could celebrate New Year's Eve in Chiang Mai instead of Phuket.

An In-Depth Experience of Southeast Asia at an Easy Pace

Tips on Accommodation

1. Book a family-friendly hotel.

One thing to note is that most hotels in Southeast Asia have occupancy limits that can top out at two or three people, including children. It is not easy to find a hotel that allows two adults and two children to stay in one room.

If you want to book a hotel room for four people, check with the hotel before booking. Otherwise, you may be forced to pay additional charges (sometimes quite hefty) to check in to the hotel.

We have found the best family-friendly hotels and accommodations across Southeast Asia — including hotels with rooms for families of four, hotels with family suites, and luxury private villas, such as Andara Resort & Villas in Phuket:

Situated on a gentle hill rising from the Andaman Sea, Andara Resort & Villas offers luxurious accommodations with stunning ocean views. The resort features a spa and an outdoor pool. Kids can have fun in their Kids Club. Parents can enjoy a relaxing massage and various treatments at the Andara Spa.

Contact us for more recommendations.

2. Pick a hotel with a pool.

If you intend to spend more time in the hotel for rest and relaxation in places like Phuket, book a hotel with a pool. Before booking, check whether the hotel has a pool and whether there is one for kids.

3. Consider the hotel's location.

If you are planning to tour the area around a city, consider whether you want to stay in the city center or somewhere in its outskirts. If beach time is important, consider whether you want to stay near the seafront or a few blocks away.

Whatever hotels you prefer, our family travel experts will recommend some ideal hotels for you according to your requirements.

Tips for Planning a Multi-Generation Trip

It is more complicated to plan a multi-generation family trip. Take a look at these top tips to help you plan a memorable vacation for your extended family in Southeast Asia.

1. Be realistic about everyone's budget and comfort level.

When planning your multi-generation vacation, it is important to decide how much each group member or family member is willing to spend. This will help guide the length, style of your trip, and level of hotels.

We've served groups with three generations traveling together, and helped them select the best hotels based on their budgets. Let us know your budget and requirements.

2. Go to places that have something for everyone.

You'll want to find a destination that has a lot to offer so that everyone's needs can be met. In Southeast Asia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia (Bali) are such destinations.

When planning, we recommend giving your family 2 to 3 options to choose from. Select a variety of activities and ensure everyone has some activities that they love doing during the trip.

southeast asia christmas trip

3. Take age into consideration when planning activities.

When planning travel activities, keep the ages of all of your group members in mind. Older people, e.g. grandparents, might need more rest time or have mobility issues. Young kids will need snacks and breaks for playing or napping.

You are suggested to plan only one activity or tour per day and leave the rest of the day open for meal times, and time to relax.

4. Let our travel experts help you plan.

Too many demands from all quarters? There is always the option of hiring a professional. When turning to a tour operator, like ourselves, to make all the arrangements, be sure to tell the travel expert about all the preferences of your family and let them chart out a flawless plan for everyone to enjoy!

Ready to Start Planning Your Family Christmas Vacation?

Still have questions or concerns about your family trip to Southeast Asia? We at Asia Highlights welcome the chance to help you make your travel plans.

Just let us know your interests and requirements, and we'll tailor-make a unique and perfect tour for you and your family.

We'll take care of the hard stuff, and all you'll have to do is relax and get ready to enjoy your exotic festive holiday.

Why Travel with Asia Highlights (98.8% positive customer reviews among 10,000+)

  • Unique experiences tailored to your interests: Enjoy a premium trip that goes beyond the typical tourist attractions.
  • Hassle-free travel and peace of mind: Every aspect of your trip will be carefully planned and organized by your 1:1 travel consultant.
  • Experienced and knowledgeable guides: Your guides will be local and love to work for travelers' smiles.
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