Also known as the Spring Festival, the Chinese New Year is the most significant annual holiday celebrated by the Chinese people worldwide. Held on 28 January 2017, the majority of the country’s workforce will be on holiday from 27 January to 2 February – allowing the nation’s population to enjoy a well-deserved seven days of celebration and rest with loved ones. As this period is the longest stretch of consecutive days off throughout the calendar year, many choose to take advantage of the warm weather in neighbouring Southeast Asian countries and head off on slow-paced vacations in the sun.
While Chinese holidaymakers look forward to the week of relaxation and rejuvenation for months ahead of time, it’s important to note that travel prices during the period are known to double or even triple due to demand. To lock in the best deals and make the most of your holidays – book in advance! Southeast Asia’s many festivities, events and celebrations throughout Chinese New Year are a significant draw to those travelling to the region from China, leaving hotels and flights booked months before the major holiday.
Planning a trip throughout the Chinese New Year? From festive parades to crackling fireworks displays and lavish banquets, here is a detailed breakdown of what’s happening in each of our Club Resort destinations throughout the 2017 holiday period.
Chinese New Year in Phuket
With a wave of Chinese immigrants having populated the island for its tin trade in the late 1800s and early 1900s, Phuket is arguably the best place in Thailand to celebrate the Chinese New Year. The destination’s infamous Sino-Portugese shophouses were built by early Chinese settlers, lending a similar architectural flair to Phuket as can be seen in Penang, Malaysia. Most of the Spring Festival festivities take place in Phuket’s downtown core, known as the Old Town. Exact schedules are constantly varying, but visitors can expect numerous street processions, fireworks displays, rotating street vendors and decorated shophouses near the local Chinese Taoist shrines. In addition, one of the island’s main arteries, Thalang Road, will be closed to traffic each evening and turned into a fun-filled pedestrian walkway. Local homes are typically decorated with flowers, platters of tangerines and trays of dried fruit while a variety of shops are adorned with red banners to bring good luck and happiness into the New Year. On 27 January, expect to bear witness to an awe-inspiring display of fireworks that can be seen and heard around the island.
Chinese New Year in Bangkok
Yaowarat, Bangkok’s official Chinatown, celebrates the Chinese New Year in style with dragon dancers, acrobatic performers and crowds of worshippers setting off fireworks in the streets. Chinese calligraphy banners and posters are placed all over the neighbourhood, while festive red decorations and paper lanterns adorn its shops. Restaurants and shops will offer special promotions to entice families to come together, indulge in fantastic meals and spend the holiday reconnecting. Visit the Mangkon Kamalawa temple on Yaowarat’s Charoen Krung Street to pay merit to the Taoist gods and goddesses, or make use of Chinese fortune sticks to ask the gods for advice on how to solve a problem.
Chinese New Year in Chiang Mai
While Chiang Mai’s Chinatown may be small in size, it certainly packs a punch when it comes to celebrating the Spring Festival. Its main street is closed to traffic throughout the holiday, allowing the city’s throngs of Chinese immigrants and visitors to come together to partake in the occasion’s festivities. The bustling Warorot Market is located in the heart of Chiang Mai’s Chinatown and becomes even busier throughout the period. The market’s vendors set up shop on the street, selling everything from Chinese herbs to traditional snacks and teas. Meanwhile, their stalls are adorned with traditional decorations as decorative red lanterns fill the space overheard. Indulge in a variety of Chinese street food, visit the local Taoist temples or unwind with a drink as traditional performers take to the street’s stage throughout the festivities. Make sure to have your camera ready, as some of the traditional costumes on display will take your breath away!
Chinese New Year in Koh Samui
Koh Samui gets incredibly busy over the Chinese New Year, with many Chinese tourists flying in to take advantage of its warm climate and sandy beaches. The tropical island celebrates the Chinese New Year in style, hosting a variety of extravagant themed dinners at its many resorts. Although the occasion is not a public holiday in Thailand, the selection of street parades, temple festivities and hotel parties happening around the island make it a fantastic place to be throughout the period. Most of the New Year parties are typically held in family style, offering poolside gala dinners concentrated on Chinese and Thai cuisine. Entertainment options at these dinners include fire dancers, live music and games followed by the release of sky lanterns or fireworks. To get a more local feel for the festivities, head to Maenam Beach – site of Koh Samui’s main Chinese temple. Here, you’ll be able to enjoy a selection of Chinese street food and catch a traditional parade featuring dancers dressed up in lion and dragon costumes.
Chinese New Year in Queenstown
While Queenstown, New Zealand is located quite a distance from Asia, its celebration of the Spring Festival is widely regarded as one of the most popular nights of the year in the city. In fact, a record 40,000 visitors flew into Queenstown for the Chinese New Year in 2015 – compared to the 30,000 who visited for the World Cricket Cup. In 2017, special discounts on sky diving, jet boat riding, wine tasting tours, trek adventures and other activities will be offered throughout the Chinese New Year, while traditional celebrations will be held at the Queenstown Town Centre. Be sure to book well in advance to avoid disappointment, as accommodation options in the city are at their priciest and most limited during this period.
Chinese New Year in Seminyak
Nearly all of the Spring Festival activities happening in Bali take place in the town of Kuta, located just a short drive from Seminyak. Head to the Vihara Dharmayana Taoist temple, where you’ll get to witness a local dragon procession, Barongsai dancers, prayers and a fireworks display in the evening. Various hotels and resorts around the island will be offering Chinese New Year dinners and buffets, complete with traditional performances and celebrations held on the beach. Dress up in the brightest reds and yellows you own and make sure to avoid wearing black – it’s bad luck over the Spring Festival period!