Best Places to Escape for CNY in Asia

Chinese New Year isn’t just another holiday. For those who follow the lunisolar calendar, particularly the Chinese, this auspicious occasion is a celebration of family and renewal. During the 15-day celebration, most people will return to their ‘ancestral’ homes or hometowns. But if you’re looking to get away or planning a family celebration abroad, here are the best places to visit for Chinese New Year in Asia where you’ll find some peace from the crowds without missing out on the festivities:

1. Yokohama, Japan

Chinese New Year may not be a national holiday in the Land of The Rising Sun, but it is still a celebrated cultural event in the Chinatowns across the country. One of the largest Chinese New Year celebrations in Japan takes place in Yokohama Chinatown. Festivities kick off on the eve of the Chinese New Year with people flocking to the two major temples, Kwan Tai Temple and Mazu Miao Temple, to light incense and offer prayers for ancestors. The major highlights of the festivities are the Spring Festival Celebration Parade and the Lantern Festival which marks the closing of the celebrations where lanterns are lit and released to guide home wayward spirits. Apart from the Chinese New Celebrations, the month of February makes for a great time to holiday in Japan with the excellent weather for skiing and the Snow Festival taking place in Sapporo from 5-11th February 2016.

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2. Seoul, South Korea

In South Korea, the Lunar New Year is celebrated as Seollal and is one of the most celebrated national holidays there. The Seollal celebrations may be similar to the Chinese New Year celebrations in the rest of Asia as a time for paying respects to ancestors and fostering family ties, but is steeped in its own traditions and customs which are unique to South Korea. During Seollal, Koreans traditionally wear hanbok, perform ancestral rites, play traditional games such as yutnori, and eat a special dish called tteokguk which is made of sliced rice cakes, beef, egg, vegetables and other ingredients. It is common for city folk to return to their respective provinces to celebrate Seollal, rendering Seoul into a semi-ghost town, which may not be a bad thing. Streets are not as busy, leaving you to take your time to meander around the city at your own pace. There is a still lot to see and do in Seoul during this auspicious occasion like visiting The Royal Palaces of Seoul, or shopping and browsing in Insadong, Seoul’s mecca for tourists. You can also experience Seollal first-hand at the Namsangol Hanok Village and take park in traditional Korean activities including making kites, spinning tops, masks and rice cake. And if you’re bringing the little ones, there’s always Everland and Lotte World to keep the kiddies entertained.

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3. Harbin, China

The most ideal place to celebrate Chinese New Year would of course be in China. However, you would want to avoid the larger cities and more popular tourist destinations like Beijing, Shanghai, Chongquing and Guilin. Escape the crowds and celebrate Chinese New Year in a winter wonderland in Harbin where the Ice and Snow Festival runs from 5 Jan till the end of February 2016. This festival dates back to the 1960s and features some of the most extraordinary snow and ice sculptures in the world which will keep any Instagrammer busy for the entire trip. As Harbin is situated in North-Eastern China on the border with China, there are many exotic buildings here with Russian and European influences. Due to its geographical location, one can also find many Russian paraphernalia such as Russian Dolls, jewellery and confectionary at the Chinese-Russian Market as well as Russian pastry shops and restaurants. And don’t forget the Siberian Tiger Park. A trip to Harbin for Chinese New Year could be your most exotic Chinese New Year getaway yet!

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4. Da Nang, Vietnam

Tet Nguyen Dan or Tet for short, is the Vietnamese version of the Lunar New Year and is the most important celebration in Vietnamese culture. The beautiful coastal city of Da Nang in central Vietnam would be the most ideal place to celebrate Tet if you’re looking for a luxurious beach holiday with a bit of culture mixed in. On the eve of Tet there will be a spectacular 15-minute firework display in various parts of the city and many hotels will also be holding countdown parties of their own. Pose for photos with the beautiful landscaping and spring flowers at Bach Dang Spring Flower Street, and enjoy the fresh seafood at one of the many beach restaurants in Da Nang. Be sure to try the essential foods unique to the Tet holidays, like Banh Chung (a steamed square cake made from glutinous rice, mung beans and pork) as well as Gio Cha (a Vietnamese sausage) served with Xoi (sticky rice) and candied fruits called Mut.

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5. Macau

Spectacular fireworks displays, colourful flower markets, hanging red lanterns everywhere, and boisterous lion dances on the streets are just a few of the highlights during Chinese New Year in Macau. This historical city spares no expense during this festive occasion. The flagship event is the Chinese New Year Parade which walks through the streets of Macau and covers almost the whole city. This stunning parade features marching bands, elaborate floats, as well as lion, dragon and unicorn troupes. Don’t miss out on the promotions and deals Macau’s extravagant casinos would be offering this time of year as part of the festivities. These attractive incentives were probably designed to part you from your money, but what is Chinese New Year without a bit of gambling?

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Where ever you may be thinking of holidaying this coming Chinese New Year, let Summit Holidays plan the best Chinese New Year get away for you and your loved ones.

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