Please sign in to post.

2014 Christmas/New Years Trip - Christmas Markets vs. Thailand - Solo Female Traveler

Hello everyone, I'm a single female traveler who is currently working in Saudi Arabia. I'm contemplating two different options for a holiday vacation this year:

1) Christmas Markets in Europe, or
2) Thailand/Cambodia/Vietnam

I'm looking at traveling for about 10 days and would love other perspectives of trips you've taken in either geographic area as a solo traveler (likes/dislikes).

I don't need a lot of pampering and tend toward the more adventurous vacations when possible. I spent about 10 days this summer touring beautiful Austria, so that base has been covered.

Club Med used to fill a niche for single travelers, but those days are gone.

I welcome your comments/suggestions.


Posted by
9110 posts

Not much comparison traction among all these Europe goers, huh, Jody?

I've spent years in both areas.

I'm not a shopper - - one swing through the Christmas markets was enough for two lifetimes, I couldn't tell them apart except for the food.

Southeast Asia is one of the all-time great chunks of the world. Ten days is short, so you're going to have to pick and choose. A good introduction would be a Hanoi / Bangkok split, squishing in either Ha Long Bay or Chiang Mai (but not both due to time constraints ) for some variety.

Hanoi / Saigon would be too similar. Hue / Hoi An / Danang would eat up too much time if you wanted to go anywhere else besides just Vietnam.

Cambodia, maybe not for the first shot. Phnom Penh, except for a little bit of architecture, isn't really that much different unless you're fascinated by the Tonle Sap or just have to get up to Siem Reap and Angkor. Also, courtesy of the Khmer Rouge, there's still a lot of leftover landmines around to the tune of about a thousand casualties a year, so you have to know what you're about if you get out in the sticks.

Maybe some of the market lovers can add a bit of balance.

Posted by
252 posts

Well, you may have answer you own question. If I think of adventurous vacations...I do not think of Christmas markets.
So 2? I do love Christmas Markets and I would like to make another trip and see more...but they are only part of my trips not the focus I would say. Do you want a white Christmas or not? Copenhagen (for Tivoli and general christmassy feeling) was beautiful during the month of December, Germany (for Christmas markets/skiing/being affordable too) or Scandinavia (for general atmosphere) as well. I loved how Norwegian were out having drinks outside in November/December. It was more vibrant than I had expected for sure!

Posted by
16556 posts


1) Christmas Markets in Europe, or
2) Thailand/Cambodia/Vietnam

Sort of like NYC or the Moon. Huh? First you have to decide that. Can't help on Asia but I can add this about Christmas Markets. Yes, there is a limit to the extent of Christmas Market shopping you can do, but the markets can just be a center piece in each town or city you visit. The real meat is in the Christmas festival, the theater, the concerts, the snow, lights, ice skating, great and varied food, fireplaces, etc. So that's what you compare to what ever is going on in Vietnam.

Posted by
8196 posts

jody, I've not done either, but traveled as a single a lot. I can't imagine Christmas markets as being fun alone, or the focus of a whole trip. Unless you are really into trinket shopping and forced festiveness.

Posted by
287 posts

I have no idea what the weather is like in Saudi Arabia in Dec but if I was planning this trip, I would be looking at contrasts in weather instead of the same type of weather. But I can't stand hot, humid weather so the Thailand visit would not be on my list. However, if you're going out that way what about Australia/New Zealand or some Pacific island?

Posted by
16893 posts

Christmas markets, which are popular in Germanic countries, sound redundant in the same year that you already visited Austria. Rick also says that "if you've seen one Christmas market, you've seen them all." If you go to Europe, then I would try a country a bit further from where you were recently. If you don't need Christmas atmosphere, then go to Asia.

Posted by
24 posts

You could even just spend the 10 days in Thailand. A couple of days in Bangkok, a couple of days on a beach like Hua Hin and a few days in Chang Mai.

Posted by
16556 posts

I guess I believe that Christmas markets as we generally think of them are "Germanic" in origin. But this site lists markets in over 30 countries. Most of which haven't been Germanic since the end of WWII. As for the statement that once you have seen one you have seen them all, I would suspect that might be true in Germany but I would also suspect the market in Paris is substantially different than the one in Naples or in Bucharest.

Still, me personally, there is only so much shopping I could stand on one vacation, but like I mentioned above, it's not about the market other than the market being an indication that a particular destination celebrates Christmas with some exuberance. I enjoy Christmas and have spent Christmas in a number of Countries from Central America to two extremes of Europe and I haven't yet had to force myself to have a good time.

I would also comment that there is little comparison between any city in August and that same city in December. Particularly those cities that have seasons. So returning in the winter isn't such a bad idea.

I detest absolutes.

Posted by
3 posts

I have done Thailand and Cambodia but not Vietnam. We are considering Germany this December but mostly because we live in Asia and want a "Christmasy" place this year. We went to Siem Reap and Southern Thailand last December/January and had a great time. The weather was beautiful. Angkor Wat and surrounding temples were truly one of the most incredible places I've ever been. I agree also that you could spend the whole 10 days in Thailand. A few days in Bangkok, a few in Chiang Mai, and a few in someplace like Phuket or Krabi. I can't comment on the Christmas markets, but I think you just have to decide what kind of experience most appeals to you at this time. You could probably have a fabulous holiday either way.

Posted by
868 posts

I guess I believe that Christmas markets as we generally think of them
are "Germanic" in origin. But this site lists markets in over 30 countries.
Most of which haven't been Germanic since the end of WWII.

Most of them aren't older than 20 years and were started to promote tourism. Sometimes in places which banned them in the decades before, because they were "too German".

Posted by
16556 posts

@Martin, probably true. But if one were looking for diversity they do exist. I have been to a few in a few different countries and the wares can be drastically different. Sometimes quite good, and sometimes really miserable Chinese junk. I know of one market and I am certain that there are others, where all the wares must be approved by a cultural committee which helps improve quality and relevance. Not arguing the origins, just stating they exist and some are quite good. Still like I said, there is only so much of that I can stand. But it does make a nice backdrop for "the season" and the other attractions to good Christmas cities.

We are spending Christmas in Europe this year; in Hungary (a large moan is heard across RS land). We arrive the weekend before Christmas and
Christmas Markets
Ice Skating on the lake in the city park
Outdoor pools at one of the bath houses
A couple of spectacular dinners at some very special places
Steam Engine train ride through the country side
Concert at the Franz Liszt Academy
Day trip to Sopron
New Year’s Eve Performance at the Opera
Organ Concert at the Pannonhalma Archabbey outside of Gyor
And while we are not doing it this year there is a wonderful period train with pullman cars from Budapest to Vienna service for about $75RT on 3 dates in December

Posted by
15477 posts

How long have you been away from Christmas? If it's been a few years, you may well enjoy 10 days of Christmas markets in Europe. I loved my 11-day trip, covering markets from Strasbourg/Colmar through southern Germany to Salzburg. . . .the decorations, local crafts (though a lot of mass-produced stuff), the music, traditional foods, hot mulled wine, and plenty of time in the mornings and early afternoons for sightseeing too. My favorites were the French ones and Esslingen (a short train ride from Stuttgart). In Germany and Austria, by about 7 p.m. the crowds of locals eating and (mostly) drinking were so thick it was like rush hour on the subway in New York. I went around the second week of December and thought that was a very good time to go - everything is up and running.

If you aren't longing for traditional Christmas atmosphere, then go EAST. With only 10 days, I'd spend it all in Thailand. Bangkok is amazing. The north (Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai) is a beautiful area, mountainous, with cool mornings and lower humidity than Bangkok. If you want some beach time, hop down to Phuket in the south for a couple of days. Shopping in Bangkok is very good, both in the markets and the shopping centers. The ancient temples at Angor Wat (town of Siem Reap) aren't worth the time and cost (airfare) to get there on a short trip. I think there's more to see and do in a short time in Thailand than in Vietnam. I flew from Bangkok airport straight to Chiang Rai where I had a personal guide and car (not expensive at all) to see the area for 2 days, then on the 3rd he drove me to Chiang Mai with stops along the way. I was on my own there, then flew to Bangkok for a few days. So much beauty, friendly people, great food, much cheaper rooms than Europe. And you can pack light - no heavy clothes, laundry costs a pittance. You may want to take a big suitcase if you're planning to shop in Bangkok though.