Recently Rachel and I were fortunate enough to spend Chinese New Year (or Lunar New Year) in Hong Kong. Having lived most of our lives in rural Canada, this is a celebration that we had never experienced in any way. Having loved our time in Japan, we were itching to go back to Asia and what better time to visit than during the world’s most celebrated holiday. As this was all new to us we learned a lot and wanted to share some advice on what to expect for Chinese New Year in Hong Kong.
While researching our trip, we realized that Chinese New Year is a holiday for families to get together. Planning a trip to Hong Kong at this time is like visiting Canada for Christmas. You can experience some of the magic, but unless you have family or friends to visit, you will be missing out on something. Nevertheless, there are still plenty of amazing things to do such as flower markets, the parade, the fireworks, and lantern displays (we will cover these in separate posts). Apart from the main events there are plenty of moments that will only happen this time of year that make the trip special.
First of all, Chinese New Year is busy. Expect the prices of hotels to be higher, streets to be crowded, and lines to be longer. As is the issue with most things worth doing, everyone else wants to do it too. So if you are planning Chinese New Year in Hong Kong (or any other major city in Asia), make sure you start planning early as hotels and activities can be fully booked months in advance. Also, prepare yourself for crowds or if you can’t handle them, maybe consider a different vacation. Chinese New Year in Hong Kong is amazing if you just embrace the chaos.
Another thing to consider is that many smaller restaurants close for the holidays which made it a challenge to find a place to eat (let alone something gluten free). If you go to Central, many restaurants will be open but we made many special trips to find specific restaurants only to find them closed for the week.
Some of our highlights visiting this time of year were the lanterns and all of the lion and dragon dances. We mostly saw lion dances which would happen spontaneously and to varying degrees of talent. The best show we saw was in front of the Peninsula Hotel (of 007 fame) on Chinese New Year around 11:00. A show was being put on for hotel staff and was very impressive. As you explore you are bound to stumble across a few of these shows which are heralded by crashing cymbals.
If you are interested in shopping, wait until the day after Chinese New Year (the same day as the fireworks) as there are some major sales much like Boxing Day.
Chinese New Year in Hong Kong is an incredible experience which we would definitely do again. If you are planning a trip and have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments below!