While they are primarily celebrated in China, Lunar New Year festivities take place across Asia – and the world – gathering an estimated 2 billion people every year. The celebrations start with the new moon and end with a Lantern Festival 15 days later. In 2024, the Lunar New Year falls on the 10th of February and will represent the zodiac sign of the dragon.
Traditional practices vary locally, but there is something for everyone. From red outfits for good luck to midnight firecrackers and dumpling-filled family dinners, the event is certainly worth traveling for.
Also known as the Spring Festival in some Asian countries, Elite Traveler has gathered the best travel destinations and hotels to celebrate Lunar New Year in Asia.
With such a strong Chinese influence, Singapore is interwoven with the nation’s heritage and customs, making it one of the region’s best places to celebrate the Lunar New Year. Chinatown is at the heart of the celebratory spirit, with the neighborhood hosting a series of lively processions along lantern-lined streets. Restaurants and hotels embrace the occasion too, by offering both modern and traditional takes on Chinese New Year’s distinct cuisine; be a part of a Lo Hei at restaurants such as Min Jiang, and try award-winning dessert chef Janice Wong’s contemporary pineapple flower tarts.
STAY: Guests staying at Shangri-La Hotel Singapore can pick up Chinese New Year hampers from the on-site boutique, including a Magnificent Opulence Hamper, and indulge in celebrations by booking one of the New Year special packages.
While Malaysia’s vibrant capital Kuala Lumpur hosts Lunar New Year celebrations in some of the oldest and largest temples in Southeast Asia, George Town on the island of Penang is the better option for a festive experience. Here, the streets are lit with colored lights and lanterns, and festival revelers gather in the town’s squares to see the parades, dragon dances and fireworks. It is no surprise that some of the most spectacular lion dances can be seen in the Chinatown neighborhood.
STAY: One of the town’s most elegant luxury hotels is the Eastern & Oriental Hotel Penang, from where guests can enjoy traditional lucky treats and a luxury buffet dinner.
Although technically not a national holiday, Thailand’s biggest Lunar New Year celebrations take place in Bangkok. And it’s – of course – in Chinatown that the greatest festivities can be found. With red lanterns lining the streets, the entire area is decorated for the occasion and is host to a vibrant parade and celebration of Chinese culture. The ties between Thailand and China are also saluted, with regular appearances of the Thai royal family and exhibitions celebrating the shared past of both countries.
For some of the city’s best Chinese cuisine, visit The Sukosol Hotel’s Lin-Fa.
STAY: The Peninsula Bangkok proudly showcases its Chinese roots through the restaurant Mei Jiang where Chinese chef Victor Ho is at the helm. Over Lunar New Year, the restaurant is hosting Chef Grace Choy for an exclusive festive menu and a New Year Feast.
[See also: Aman Nai Lert Bangkok to Open in Late 2024]
As Hong Kong’s most important celebration, Lunar New Year is the ideal time to visit for the cultural insight it affords. Visitors at this time have the chance to join locals in celebrating the occasion by seeking out the city’s temples and notorious flower markets, and by catching the annual parade around Tsim Sha Tsui – not to forget Victoria Harbor’s renowned fireworks. Hong Kong’s traditions also include the Sha Tin horse race, the perfect place to try your luck for the new year.
STAY: The Peninsula Hong Kong is one of the city’s most legendary places to stay, having been established in 1928. Three ten-course Lunar New Year Feasts will be hosted at the restaurant Spring Moon, with Chinese New Year cakes and confectionery to buy, too.
Shanghai bursts with energy throughout the entire year, but its unique vibrancy is enhanced further by the arrival of Lunar New Year. Seek out Yuyuan Old Town Bazaar to see the lanterns on display, then soak up the atmosphere of one of the city’s ancient temples, such as Longhua Temple which originates from 242 AD. Throughout the city, a myriad of sights, sounds, and tastes reflect the occasion and contribute to the festive spirit.
STAY: Mandarin Oriental Pudong Shanghai sits on the banks of Shanghai’s Huangpu River, amid the skyscrapers of Lujiazui. Dine at the hotel’s Yong Yi Ting restaurant for a taste of the region’s cuisine, and pick up some Chinese baked goods at The Mandarin Cake Shop. The Mandarin Oriental Pudong Shanghai also hosts its own New Year festivities, including a lion dance in the main lobby, traditional festive dishes, and even special Spa packages for the whole family.
Beijing is considered one of the world’s best places to spend Lunar New Year for its festival revelry, as well as cultural insight. The significance of the occasion can be seen in temples throughout the city, as well as the temple parks where traditional performances unfold. With fireworks lighting up the sky and Lunar New Year specialties at every corner, the month of February is perhaps the best time to visit for true cultural immersion.
STAY: Situated just moments away from the gates of Beijing’s Unesco World Heritage Site, Summer Palace, the luxury hotel Aman Summer Palace is an atmospheric place to stay, combining traditional Chinese architecture with elegant modern design. While you’re there, take the opportunity to experience the local culture and arts with one of the hotel’s private guides.