Chinese New Year Travel Guide: Where & How to Ring in the Year of the Pig
Experience New Traditions
Chinese New Year will be here before we know it. In 2019, Chinese New Year falls on February 5. For those who wish to ring in the Year of the Pig in proper style, you may choose to travel to a country or city where the holiday is celebrated.
We’ve outlined some tips on celebrating Chinese New Year, as well as some hot destinations if you are looking to travel to experience the festivities. Here’s what you need to know when it comes to Chinese New Year travel.
What and When Is Chinese New Year?
Chinese New Year is one of (if not THE) most important holiday on the Chinese calendar. While many Chinese and Asian cities recognize Western New Year on January 1, they really go all-out for the Lunar New Year where events and festivities can carry on for nearly two weeks in some places.
The date is determined by the Chinese Lunar calendar which is based on the moon cycle. It is celebrated on the waxing of the full moon, usually somewhere between the 21st of January and the 20th of February.
How Is Chinese New Year Celebrated?
Families usually get together and celebrate the first few days of the new year and offer sacrifices of food, incense and other things to their ancestors. Many people leave the cities to go to their hometowns in the countryside. Others may spend the holiday relaxing or going on vacation.
Leading up to the new year, many Chinese people will do an intense spring cleaning of their homes and stock up on food, festive clothing and decorations. This is a fun time to relax and watch frenzied locals prepping for the big day(s).
Red is the color of the occasion, and you’ll see red lanterns, paintings, artwork and more everywhere you look. People will also wear red clothing. Parents and other adults give children red envelopes containing money to wish them a prosperous, lucky and healthy new year. If you are invited to someone’s home during Chinese New Year, be sure to pack a few extra red envelopes and some sweets so you can participate in the custom.
Best Places to Travel During the Chinese New Year
These colorful and exciting celebrations are an exciting time to visit China and other countries with large Chinese populations. The following are some of the best places in the world to travel if you’d like to experience Chinese New Year.
Not to be obvious, but China is an surefire option for an exciting place to celebrate Chinese New Year. Nearly everywhere in the country will have some sort of festivities happening. In Shanghai, you’ll find lantern displays, red and gold decorations throughout the old town, and amazing shopping along Nanjing Road.
Beijing is another one of the best places in the world to experience Chinese New Year. Here, you’ll find impressive fireworks displays, the Longqing Ice and Snow Festival and many more festivities happening during this time.
Whether you spend your time watching the colorful float parade wind its way through Tsim Sha Tsui or oohing and aahing at the fireworks over stunning Victoria Harbour (or both), Chinese New Year in Hong Kong is sure to wow you. During the daytime, you can stroll through the beautiful temples and flower markets which are bustling this time of year.
There’s an extremely popular horse race on the third day of the new year if you are into that kind of thing. For family travelers, Ocean Park and Hong Kong Disney will each host lots of special events for the holiday.
There are plenty of Hong Kong hotels to choose from, making it easy to have a vacation here.
Our favorite place to experience Chinese New Year in Malaysia is Penang, with it’s quaint historic streets, outdoor markets, fireworks and parading dragons. Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur, will also have tons of festive activities and it’s a great time to visit temples such as Thean Hou for a bit of cultural immersion.
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Singapore has long had strong cultural ties to China, and as such, it is one of the best places in the world to experience Chinese New Year. Head to Chinatown to watch a variety of acrobatic performances and lion dances in the streets and find ample opportunities for shopping.
Many of the city’s restaurants and hotels will offer special food promotions if you are out to try some traditional Chinese New Year eats.
Any Chinese New Year guide would be remiss if it didn’t mention London, where one of the largest Chinese New Year festivals outside of Asia occurs. There, the one-day celebration includes a variety of performances and fireworks across multiple districts, making this a great option if Europe is more easily accessible for you than a trip to Asia.
If a trip to Asia isn’t in your budget this year, there are a few spots around the US where you can get a taste of Chinese New Year. New York’s Chinatown hosts a Cultural Festival with fun, festive parades. San Francisco is another great spot to experience Chinese New Year. Its Chinatown is one of the country’s oldest and the parade features more than 100 colorful floats to mark the lunar new year.
No matter where you decide to head, book your trip as soon as possible as flights and hotels during the Lunar New Year can book up quite early. And of course, Gong xi fa cai! (Happy [Chinese] New Year!)