Chinese New Year offers travellers an opportunity to celebrate 16 days of festivities!Plan your Hong Kong visit and immerse yourself in traditions that bring good fortune, long life and happiness.
The Year of the Dog (2018) is the year of honesty and loyalty, The Pig (2019) brings carefree fun, good fortune and wealth.
Sue, Destinology content writer, recommends 5 activities to make the most of the traditions.
The Harbour - Fireworks and Lights
Fireworks: Originating in China over 2,000 years ago, to scare away evil spirits. Fireworks illuminate the Hong Kong Skyline to welcome in the new year and are a spectacle to behold.
Thousands of onlookers flock to the harbour, both Island, and Kowloon side.
Destinology’s Top Tip – Treat yourself to a harbour view hotel room and enjoy a birds eye view.
‘Symphony of Light’ for your other nights in Hong Kong enjoy the free light show as major hotels and land marks, including the International Commerce Centre which houses the Ritz-Carlton and the iconic Bank of China Tower (nick-named ‘The Knife’ for its shape and design) are illuminated to tell an 'Imaginary Story.’ Listen to the accompanying music at Tshim Sha Tsui or Golden Gauhinia Square at 8pm nightly.
Destinology’s Top Tip - Download the mobile app – ICC Light and Sound Show – and tune in anywhere, even the Star Ferry.
The Festival of Floats
Kowloon hosts the Parade which takes place on New Year’s Day.
Official start time is 8pm but enjoy the energy and excitement from 6pm when Dragon Dancers, Acrobats and Drummers excite gathering crowds.
Route: Cultural Centre on the Waterfront, circling along Canton road, Haiphong Road and Nathan Road.
Highlights: Illuminated floats, marching bands, ballerinas, international acts and more.
Destinology’s Top Tip: Join the party early to get a good spot as the street will be crammed with revellers.
Travel: Take the Star Ferry to Kowloon if staying on Hong Kong Island.
Floats can be found at other sites across the city if you want to get up close. Check the Festival website during your visit for daily updates throughout the New Year season.
Well Wishing Festival
In Lam Tsuen villagers believe that casting hand written blessings and prayers over the lucky Banyam trees ensures hopes and dreams are fulfilled for their friends and families. The tradition attracts hopeful international travellers.
To take part: Write your wish on, traditionally red or gold, paper along with your name and date of birth. Tie it with string to a small orange and toss it energetically over the wishing tree. Your blessing and wish must catch on one of the branches.
Destinology’s Top Tip: Aim for a sturdy branch.
In the evening beautiful Lotus lanterns filled with flickering candles are released into the Lam Tsuen canal to carry good fortune for the New Year.
Travel: Lam Tsuen is a 30 minute drive north of Kowloon so take the MTR to Tai Wo Station (New Territories) where a free shuttle or taxi will take you to Lam Tsuen Wishing Square.
During the New Year celebrations foods considered to be lucky are devoured across Hong Kong to bring good fortune.
- Noodles: Bring happiness and long life. Try them at Temple Street Night Market with stir fried garlic broccoli. Here the stall holders tout the freshness of their ingredients and house specialities.
Destinology’s Top Tip: Markets also offer the opportunity for shopping. Barter for traditional lucky keepsakes including Jade necklaces and statues, red and gold dragon puppets, feng shui chimes and waving cats.
Travel: Take the MTR to Jordan Street and use Exit A – walk along Jordan Street for 3 blocks and the market is clearly marked by a large red Chinese gateway.
- Fish: Brings prosperity. In Lei Mun you pick your fish from the market and take it to a local restaurant to have it cooked just as you like it. You can’t get fresher than that!
Travel: Take the MTR to Yau Tong then it is a 15 minute explore to Sam Ka Tsuen and Lei Mun.
- Sweet Rice Balls: Symbolic of family and togetherness. Traditionally eaten to mark the end of New Year but too delicious to leave for 16 days! Fook Yuen on Hong Kong Island specialises in dessert – black sesame filling is recommended but peanut butter is also sumptuous. Eat in or takeaway, but be sure to share.
Travel: Experience Hong Kong’s quintessential Tramway system. Beloved by locals a journey is an essential experience. Alight at Fortress Street Station then walk via Kings Road to Fuk Yuen Street (4 minutes.)
Sue’s foodie treat recommendation: Not on the lucky menu but Hong Kong Egg Waffles are world renowned. Delicious flavoured waffle mixture is shaped into sheets of small eggs – our favourites use coconut milk. Buy them street vendors across the city. If you want a really special treat fill your waffle roll with ice-cream – naughty but nice.
Visit a Temple
Chinese Temples across Hong Kong are busy during the New Year. Worshippers light incense and pray to deities for blessings and good fortune.
Destinology’s Top Tip: Be first to place your incense at the altar of good luck when the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve to be the luckiest of the lucky! But beware, the smoke can be overwhelming.
Especially popular are:
- Zao Jun – The Kitchen God who protects the household and oversees moral wellbeing. Families welcome Zao Jun into their houses by hanging paper statues over their hearths.
- Men Shen – The Door Gods protect families and businesses by keeping their fortunes safe and by dispelling evil influences. Outside Chinese homes you may find Door Gods hung on either side of the threshold to keep out bad and usher in good.
Another God to look out for is Destinology’s Favourite – Jizo. This buddha guides us on our travels. Obviously, we recommend you light incense at his shrine if you want to travel more.
After experiencing all Hong Kong has to offer travel further into China and visit Xian where you will find the Terracotta Army or Beijing and the Forbidden City.
Australasia is only a flight away from Hong Kong so head on to Sydney, Auckland or Fiji to enjoy the winter sun.