Chinese New Year is just round the corner so here at Travelog we’ve come up with a list of the eight cities across Asia where you can best see the festivities and experience a century old tradition come alive in modern settings!
1. Beijing, China
Beijing is where the biggest of all Chinese New Year celebrations take place across the world. With thousands of years of tradition waiting to come alive during this period, Beijing holds one of the world’s most colourful and interesting celebrations. Many temple fairs are set up during this festive period which showcases martial arts demonstrations, lion dances, folk performances. There will also be special sales and loads of festival food. Most people spend this period spending time with their families and visiting temples to pray to the gods. However, as it is after all China’s biggest public holiday, you can be sure that Beijing’s Chinese New Year celebrations will not be disappointing. Oh, and be prepared for an endless array of fireworks!
2. Penang, Malaysia
Penang, particularly George Town, is where the festivities begin. Listed as one of the UNESCO heritage sites in Southeast Asia, George Town literally lights up during CNY. With lanterns hanging all over, a warm reddish-orange glow floods the streets as people celebrate with performances, delicious food and happy smiles! The renowned Kek Lok Si Temple would probably be the biggest light source in the area as it often lights thousands of lanterns and bulbs, illuminating the century old temple in preparation of the festivities.
3. Shanghai, China
Shanghai, just like Beijing, will see tons of people flocking the streets of this Chinese city. However, unlike Beijing, Shanghai has its own charm and unique character. The Longhua Temple, the oldest in Shanghai, will see 108 Buddhist monks invited to climb the pagoda to strike the bell as a symbolic welcome of the new year while chasing away evil spirits. The Yu Yuan Gardens holds the city’s most famous lantern show – locals dress up in traditional garb and walk around the gardens holding ornately decorated lanterns as they revel in the festivities with delicious food and interesting merchandises that are for sale. To catch spectacular fireworks, head to The Bund which also has many party spots for you and your friends to get a drink and unwind.
4. Hong Kong, China
With a full 15 days to celebrate age old traditions and cultural festivities, Hong Kong is no stranger to the Chinese New Year get up. Locals will flock to temples around the city to pray for good fortune in the new year, as do most places. However, in Hong Kong, the holiday kicks off with a fabulous parade along Tsim Sha Tsui with dozens of floats and performing groups. Fireworks are a definite must as well and you can catch the spectacular display of pyrotechnics along Victoria Harbour. And to make the holiday even more exciting, promotions, discounts and sales pop up all over giving locals to tourists alike, a wonderful shopping spree to stock up on new clothes for the new year.
5. Bangkok, Thailand
Home to the largest population of Chinese in Thailand, Bangkok naturally holds one of the biggest Chinese New Year celebrations in the country. Being predominantly Buddhist, most of the Chinese would take a day off to visit temples and give offerings in hope of a blessed year ahead. From red lanterns strung across streets, to loud music and lion dances as well as street performers, Bangkok is bustling more than ever during this period. Not to forget rows of stalls selling a variety of street food that will provide much needed relief as you’re out immersing yourself in the festivities. Do check out Nakhon Sawan, 220 km north of Bangkok as they have one of the grandest celebrations. One of the highlights would be the acrobatic performers who climb a 10m pole to retrieve the money affixed at the top!
Singapore’s official colours may be red and white but during CNY, red and gold is strewn across the streets especially in Chinatown where huge statues and pretty lanterns line the roads. Although fireworks are not so common during CNY as compared to other countries in Asia, the Singaporeans still have a good time during this season. From lion dances to street bazaars and acrobatic carnivals and shows, there’s plenty to keep everyone entertained. Not to mention all the delectable Chinese New Year goodies which are only available during this period. As Singapore is celebrating it’s 50th anniversary this year, Chinese New Year will lead up to one of the grandest parades ever to be held – Chingay 2015, themed “We Love SG”, so if you’re in town for CNY be sure to extend your stay to catch it!
When we think of Chinese New Year in Taiwan, we think of lanterns, lanterns, lanterns. They vary vastly in shape and size and patterns but all bring joy and light to the people of Taiwan and its visitors. The culmination of celebrations ends with the biggest lantern festival where paper lanterns are lit and released en masse into the skies. People often write their wishes on the paper lanterns and send them up towards the heavens in hope of them coming true. The best place to catch the lantern festival would be in Pingxi. The sight of all the lanterns being released at once is truly one to behold.
8. Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
Considered one of the most important celebrations of the year, Chinese New Year or Tet as it’s called in Vietnamese is one of the most celebrated festivities. Tet is well known for its gorgeous flower displays where they would be arranged in the likeness of the animal that represents the coming year. A good place to catch the flower displays would be Nguyen Hue Flower Street. If you’re not so into flora, try the entertainment parts such as Dam Sen Park or Sui Tien Park. With music shows, games and activities, these parks transform into a mini carnival of sorts for everyone to revel in the festive spirit. Ho Chi Minh definitely comes alive during Tet with multiple performances along the streets, flowers blooming and lots of activities for one and all to take part in.
Still not sure where to celebrate Chinese New Year in Asia this year? Check out these useful links for more ideas:
- Go Southeast Asia – Chinese New Year in Singapore: An Islandwide Celebration