Considering taking advantage of the Chinese New Year long weekend to get away? These five countries are where you should go if you seek an unforgettable, and new, spring festival experience.
Take a walk under the sea – Bali, Indonesia
Yes, you read that right; under the sea! Take an unorthodox approach to Chinese New Year by spending the afternoon hanging out with ocean fish before coming back up to shore to enjoy the famous Bali sunset.
And the best part? You don’t have to lug along a clunky oxygen tank as you explore the ocean floor, thanks to Bali Seawalker Tour’s unique helmet system. This means that your hands will be free to feed the fish, and of course, snap a few underwater selfies.
Relax and shop – Bangkok, Thailand
The happy-go-lucky Thais welcome every opportunity to let loose and have fun. Overworked Singaporeans will be surprised to know that they hold not one, but three New Year celebrations; the western New Year in January, the Chinese New Year in February and the Thai New Year (Songkran) in April. How they manage to count down three times a year without losing the novelty of fireworks is a mystery!
Central spots like Bangkok’s Chinatown (above), Phuket Town and Chiang Mai’s Waworot Market area come alive during this period with red lanterns, dragon dances and performances. There’s no shortage of delicious, cheap food too.
After gorging on bak kwa and alcohol, spending time relaxing at a spa (HealthLand is my all-time favourite) is a great way to unwind and detox. Do take note that although Chinese New Year isn’t an official public holiday in Thailand, some shops and restaurants do close during this period.
Visit a jjimjilbang – Seoul, Korea
Did you know that Koreans have their own version of Chinese New Year? To the Koreans, Seollal (Lunar New Year’s Day) is the most important traditional holiday of the year, and is even more significant than January 1st. Much like our traditional reunion dinner, Koreans from all around the globe will make the trip home to enjoy homemade tteokguk (a traditional soup chock-full of tasty ingredients like sliced rice cakes, beef and eggs) with family and friends.
During this time, the streets will be filled with Koreans shopping, socialising and indulging in all sorts of beauty routines. Koreans have many secrets when it comes to achieving their trademark smooth, bouncy skin, and one of them is going for regular jjimjilbang (heated bathhouse; above) sessions. These bathhouses are where locals come to unwind and maintain their youthful skin with an array of health and beauty rituals. Apart from the usual shopping Seoul has to offer, why not pamper your skin with a little TLC this Chinese New Year?
Take part in the Ume Festival – Mito City, Japan
One can always count on Japan, home to one of the richest cultures in Asia, to hold marvellous festivals and celebrations all year long. Even though Chinese New Year isn’t officially celebrated, there are still many events happening around this period to make a Japan trip worth your while.
To celebrate the coming of Spring, Japan will be holding a festival that’s only topped by the Cherry Blossom Festival in terms of popularity: The Ume (Plum) Blossom Festival. Plum blossoms appear earlier than cherry blossoms, but are no less beautiful with their hues of deep red to pure white, and will make for a whimsical Instagram photo, indeed.
Go chase waterfalls – Cebu, Philippines
The white sand beaches of Cebu, Philippines’ most picturesque province, are just a three-hour flight away from forever-bustling Singapore.
Cebu has many natural wonders to offer, including world-class diving spots and more than 90 waterfalls. The most popular waterfall is the Kawasan Falls (above), which has water so clear and blue that it puts Siloso Beach to shame. Bamboo rafts are also available for rent to take you to the base of the waterfall for a uber relaxing waterfall “massage”.
This article was first published on Silverkris.