No time in Asia is more colourful than the Lunar New Year! For an insider’s look at what the region is like during the holiday, we rounded up some of our favourite photos from our top destinations.


Lunar New Year (AKA Chinese New Year) isn’t just a celebration within China. Thanks to shared ancestral and cultural roots around the region, the Year of the Monkey is cause for celebration around the region – but each place has a unique way of ringing in the brand new year.

What each destination has in common, though, are vibrant and beautiful displays of culture and tradition. In a sea of scarlet red and bright gold, some of Asia’s most fascinating traditions are on full display with the entrance of a new lunar year. These are some of our favourite images of the festivities.

lunar new year hanoi red lanterns
A Hanoi street is illuminated with hundreds of traditional lanterns – all in a traditional blend of bright red and vivid gold. Photo credit: Scott Pocock

In Vietnam, close ancestral and cultural connections makes Lunar New Year – or Tet – the most important holiday of the year. Vietnam is distinct in how it rings in the new year, however, and there’s a strong sense of national pride in their distinctive traditions.

In addition to bright red lanterns – many reading ‘Chuc Mung Nam Moi’, Vietnamese for Happy New Year – Vietnamese locals also decorate their homes with fresh flowers and kumquat trees. It’s considered good luck for a peach blossom or orange blossom tree to bloom on the first day of the new year, so some garden masters have made a business out of coaxing these trees to bloom at just the right time.

If you’re in Vietnam during the Tet holiday, expect lots of locals exchanging ‘li xi’, or “lucky money” in red envelopes. This is similar to China, where locals believe that the money inside is good luck!

hanoi new year
In the days before the new year, shops along Hanoi’s Old Quarter street light up with lanterns for the holiday. These shops often sell peach blossoms – branches with soft pink flowers – as a uniquely Vietnamese tradition. Photo credit: Scott Pocock
hanoi chinese new year
The lead-up to the lunar new year – called Tet in Vietnam – is considered one of the most boisterous times of the year. Strangely enough, the day following the new year guarantees nearly empty streets as locals go home to their families! Photo credit: Scott Pocock

In Malaysia, a strong Chinese community with some of the region’s most beautiful Chinese temples makes the holiday spectacular for visitors. The most picturesque of Malaysia’s temples during the lunar new year is Kek Lok Si on the Island of Penang. One of the largest of its kind in Southeast Asia, Kek Lok Si shimmers to life during the holiday – and makes for a fantastic destination for photographers!

Kek Lok Si Temple on Malaysia's Penang Island is a traveller favourite any time of year, but it's at its most beautiful during the lunar new year.
Kek Lok Si Temple on Malaysia’s Penang Island is a traveller favourite any time of year, but it’s at its most beautiful during the lunar new year.

Outside of China, the two most boisterous destinations for the Lunar New Year are most certainly Hong Kong and Singapore. These glittering metropolises are energetic any time of the year, but they kick off spectacular extravaganzas to welcome the new lunar year.

Hong Kong celebrates with one of the largest parades in Asia, complete with fireworks and dancers that would fit in at a Mardi Gras parade! This international festival has become largely commercialised in the past decade, which makes it an even bigger (and busier) attraction than others in the region.

For those that would rather avoid the chaos, watching the fireworks from Victoria Harbour promises a beautiful start to the Year of the Monkey.

Hong Kong's New Year Parade puts even Carnivale and Mardi Gras to shame. Wide major roads through Hong Kong shut down to make room for two-storey high flats, dancers and dragons!
Hong Kong’s New Year Parade puts even Carnivale and Mardi Gras to shame. Wide major roads through Hong Kong shut down to make room for two-storey high flats, dancers and dragons!
Dragon dances are a staple of Hong Kong's Lunar New Year festivities. While some are school troupes, there are plenty of professional troupes that perform during its biggest festivals.
Dragon dances are a staple of Hong Kong’s Lunar New Year festivities. While some are school troupes, there are plenty of professional troupes that perform during its biggest festivals.
Singapore's biggest celebrations and decorations are centered on its Chinatown District, which begins transforming as early as two to three weeks before the final day of the year!
Singapore’s biggest celebrations and decorations are centered on its Chinatown District, which begins transforming as early as two to three weeks before the final day of the year!
Traditional Chinese costumes are on full display for Singapore Chinese New Year celebrations. Photo credit: Singapore Tourism Board
Traditional Chinese costumes are on full display for Singapore Chinese New Year celebrations. These two are dressed as traditional Chinese opera performers! Photo credit: Singapore Tourism Board

Start planning your trip to Asia for some of its best festivals this year! Contact our team to start designing an itinerary in time for its most colourful celebrations.

 

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