Asia’s most vibrant festival is at its best and brightest in certain cities throughout the region. Read on for some of our favourite places to celebrate Chinese New Year in Asia, filled with lights, music and festive cheer!
When it comes to ringing in a New Year, few regions in the world do it better than Asia. Just like the Gregorian New Year celebrated in other parts of the world, the Lunar New Year – commonly called Chinese New Year – is the pinnacle of festivities in communities around Asia, and few countries that celebrate it let the New Year pass without some serious celebrations. But where to celebrate Chinese New Year in Asia? Thankfully, Chinese New Year festivals in Asia are perhaps the most incredible you’ll see in the entire world – and five of our destinations have the best Chinese New Year celebrations!
Since it's based on an ancient lunar calendar dictated by the moon and stars, Chinese New Year festival dates change with each passing year. But the apparent unpredictability of the holiday doesn’t do much to dampen the celebrations, with Chinese New Year boasting some of the most extravagant festivals and parades in the world.
When it comes to experiencing Asia as its most colourful, the weeks leading up to Chinese New Year is one of the most exciting times; and in Asia, Chinese New Year celebrations in each country have their own unique local flavour. Finding the best place to ring in the Spring season is all about figuring out what each destination has to offer - it can be difficult to decide where to celebrate Chinese New Year.
Luckily, Buffalo Tours' travel experts know a thing or two about New Year’s celebrations – these are our five favourite spots to get in on the Lunar New Year fun!
It’s only natural that one of the very best places to celebrate the Chinese New Year would be right in the heart of China itself. There are countless festivals in nearly every major city in China, but what makes the festivities in Beijing so incredible is the urban landscape itself. As the former imperial home of the Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties, Beijing is bursting with ancient heritage and countless temples. And thanks to its rich dynastic history, Beijing’s festivities come from centuries of celebrations that have carried on through generations in the city.
The heart of the celebrations is the Temple Festival, a dizzying extravaganza of performancing arts, kung fu, lion dances and musical shows popping up in the hundreds of temples around the city. The very best and biggest festivals take place at Ditan Temple, Longtan Temple and Dongyue Temple – where you’ll surely find yourself stocking up on souvenirs between bouts of entertainment (they are, after all, the sites of major New Year markets). While some festivities begin far before the New Year, most will kick off just as the New Year approaches.
Singapore is a melting pot of cultures and history, but at the heart of its ethnic diversity is its Chinese community. And despite being geographically much closer to Malaysia than China, Singapore’s Chinatown explodes in as much colour and excitement during the New Year as does in even the biggest cities in China.
Expect to see plenty of vivid red and gold in the days leading up to the New Year (the traditional colours of the season), but the real fun begins with the welcoming of Spring Festival in the two weeks following New Years. In Singapore’s Chinatown district, that comes in the form of a vivid, vibrant and spectacular procession: the Chingay Parade!
Modeled closely after its festive counterpart in China, the Chingay Parade was once a massive procession through the streets of Singapore. But thanks to its ever-expanding crowds and hyper-advanced pyrotechnics and lights, the Chingay Parade’s home is now in the Formula One Pit Building in the Marina Waterfront.
A major event for Singaporeans of all walks of life, the Chingay Parade spills out onto the streets in incredible festivals throughout the city, but bet on soaking up the best of it right in the heart of Chinatown. Looking for more information on how to celebrate the Year of the Pig in 2019? Check out Chinatown Festivals website for all the details of this year’s festivities!
Although just a stone’s throw from mainland China, Hong Kong has its very own brand of Chinese New Year festivities, and few places rival its extravagance. Lasting two to three days following the eve of the New Year, Hong Kong’s New Year festival isn’t a single celebration – but three!
Kicking off with International Spring Festival on the first night of the New Year, the holiday begins with carnival-like performances from hundreds of troupes from around Asia and the world. The following day, Hong Kong swaps the dancing for brilliant pyrotechnics, with a massive fireworks display on the second day following the New Year. Finally, hundreds of thousands of spectators gather at the Sha Tin Racecourse on the third day after the New Year. Expect plenty of betting on race horses, and even more colourful processions during the event.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
A bit like Singapore, the country of Malaysia is an incredible mixture of cultures and history. In no other city is this most apparent than in its largest metropolis Kuala Lumpur, which is as much a mixture of cultures as it is an urban feat of architecture. No surprise, then, that Chinese New Year in this bustling city is truly magnificent – with the New Year red and gold adding to an already glittering skyline.
In Kuala Lumpur, the massive festivals in other parts of Asia are traded for truly spectacular sights. The very best place to absorb the New Year in sparkling colour is at Thean Hou Temple. This six-tiered monolith dons a beautiful layer of red decorations during the New Year, and is the centre of massive prayer gatherings. This is the perfect place to soak up the quieter and more pious side of the lunar New Year, with thousands of locals descending upon the temple to pay respect to ancestors in the lead up to Spring.
If there ever was a city that knew how to party, that city would definitely be Bangkok. A bustling urban hub that’s both sprawling and ever-growing, Bangkok has its fair share of reasons to celebrate throughout the year – and makes good use of them. But alongside the city’s already famous celebrations for Songkran Festival – yet another Spring and local New Year celebration – the festivities that go into the Chinese New Year are second to none outside of China.
For the best of the city’s celebrations, head into Chinatown (the largest in the country). Here you’ll see dozens of lion dances and performances, and plenty of revelers in the street to both pay respects to ancestors or simply soak in the excitement of the season. And if local food is your idea of cultural experience, you’ll be spoiled for choice in Chinatown – with more food stalls popping up than usual.
Thanks to its location, too, the Bangkok Chinese New Year festivities have a touch of Thai flavour. Don’t be surprised if you’re enjoying traditional Chinese food one minute, and digging into some Thai sweet soup the next.
Each and every one of these destinations is possible with Buffalo Tours – and a journey to these incredible Asian destinations is at its most colourful during the New Year. For the New Year’s adventure of a lifetime, request a tailor-made tour from us!