Travelers riding the Tuk-Tuk in Bangkok
See & Do

5 doggone good Asian destinations to spend Chinese New Year

It’s only been a month into 2018, but are you already looking forward to your next vacation? Luckily for you, we’ve got a major festival coming up: Chinese New Year!

If you’re already eyeing your calendar and planning a quick trip overseas at this time of year, you should consider these destinations:

Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City
Pham Ngu Lao Street, popular among backpackers. Credit: Sean Hsu / Shutterstock

Experience the Lunar New Year from the Vietnamese perspective – Tet Nguyen Dan, or Tet for short, is considered the biggest and most popular festival of the year in Vietnam and coincides with Chinese New Year.

Many locals will return to their hometowns for family reunions, so Ho Chi Minh City will be filled with tourists. On Lunar New Year’s Eve, walk down the main streets of downtown, where you can feel the thrum of excitement and awe as the fireworks displays welcome the New Year.

Do note that many shops and businesses will close for the first couple of days of Tet, so it’s advisable to book trips out of the city, like the Mekong Delta region.



Bangkok is home to Thailand’s largest Chinese community, so Yaowarat Road in the city’s Chinatown will be decked with red Chinese lanterns and packed with visitors during this time.  

On the first day of the Chinese New Year, you should catch the brilliant Dragon Parade or visit a Chinese temple. Throughout the month-long celebrations, you’ll encounter lively dragon dances accompanied by beating drums, firecrackers and sumptuous Chinese spreads.

Out of respect, you should be aware of various taboos observed during this time, such as not using bad or “unlucky” words and avoiding the use of sharp objects.


Hong Kong

Hong Kong Lion Dance
Lion Dance team readying for their performance. Credit: kawing921 / Shutterstock

Hong Kong is a great city to visit at any time of year, but Chinese New Year is considered one of the best times, as everything is turned up 150% in terms of energy and good cheer.

The city welcomes the Chinese New Year with a grand parade that fills Tsim Sha Tsui’s main streets with colorful floats, as well as a spectacular fireworks show. Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront and Central Harbourfront offer the best views of the pyrotechnic display, but expect it to be crowded.

Street markets and stalls are often closed on the first and second day, while theme parks, tourist attractions, shops and restaurants are usually open.



Colombo – Gangaramaya Temple
Gangaramaya Temple.

February is a wonderful time of year to visit Sri Lanka, as it falls right between the country’s two rainy seasons, meaning that the weather’s juuuuust right.

It’s also a busy month, as the country celebrates its independence (February 4th) and Nawam Maha Perahera, a Buddhist event which is observed on the day of the full moon in February.

For the Nawam Maha Perahera, it’s celebrated at Gangaramaya Temple in the center of the city, located next to Lake Beira. The festival’s highlight is the vibrantly-decorated elephants that are paraded down the streets of Colombo, alongside musicians and dancers.



Tokyo – Ume Tree
Ume (plum) tree at the Tokyo Imperial Palace.

Japan is famous for its iconic sakura (cherry blossom) season, but have you heard about ume season? Ume (plum) trees blossom much earlier than sakura trees, so its season runs from early February to early March. Ume petals are smaller and round compared to sakura petals, reminding me more of delicately falling snow.

Enjoy a hanami (flower viewing) at Tokyo’s Ueno Park, where the Bunkyo Plum Festival is held annually near the Yushima Tenmangu Shrine. The shrine’s over 300 picturesque ume trees make a pretty sight.

If you want to check out Chinese New Year-themed festivities, head to the city of Yokohama, which is just an hour away from Tokyo. Yokohama’s Chinatown district celebrates with two weeks’ worth of activities, such as traditional lion dance performances and music in Yamashitacho Park, a traditional costume parade, and a Lantern Festival near Masobyo Temple.

Excited to experience Chinese New Year at these paw-some destinations? Fetch – er, I mean, book – your flights and accommodation with Traveloka today!

A storyteller with an insatiable sense of curiosity. Travel junkie. Card-carrying member of many fandoms. Heavily dependent on caffeine. Loyal cat servant. Former journalist at the New Straits Times and Hybrid News.

Leave a Reply