There are plenty of places to celebrate Chinese New Year in Thailand this year. So, whether you're looking for fantastic food to eat, street festivals or even shopping bargains, you'll find them during the week of January 22 to January 29.
Why not enter the year of the Dragon in Thailand? There are plenty of places to celebrate Chinese New Year in Thailand this year. So, whether you're looking for fantastic food to eat, street festivals or even shopping bargains, you'll find them during the week of January 22 to January 29.
While Chinese New Year in Thailand is an important holiday steeped in tradition and significance (especially for the ethnic Chinese and their decedents, who make up a large percentage of the population), it's also a great time to be a visitor and outside observer, as there are lots of really fun and interesting things going on in the country. Bangkok tends to have the most and best Thai Chinese New Year celebrations, but in every major city you'll find something going on. Here are some highlights this year.
- Yawolat, Bangkok's Chinatown. Yawolat is the absolute best place to celebrate Chinese New Year in Thailand, as it has the highest concentration of Thai-Chinese. Every night during the festival week there are events planned but the big ones, part of Bangkok Chinatown Festival 2012, are happening on January 23 and 24. On these two nights there will be cultural shows, dragon dances, performances by Chinese acrobat troupes and other entertainment at Odeon Circle at the start of Yawolat Road (just a quick walk from Hualumpong Station). Aside from the big organized events, there will be random dragon and lion dances going on all over Yawolat (and Bangkok in general) during Chinese New Year, so if you're walking down the street and notice a big dragon coming your way, along with lots of loud drum banging, don't be surprised.
Yawolat also has lots of great street food during Chinese New Year. It's known for great eating any time of the year but during Chinese New Year you'll find lots of special savory and sweet things to eat, especially dumplings. If you're hoping to eat dinner at one of Yawolat's traditional Chinese restaurants, make sure to reserve in advance as it's a very popular week for big banquets.
Off the main road there are also lots of smaller celebrations going on, often with candle lighting, puppet shows, operas and plenty of noisy fireworks. Wander the streets of Yawolat on January 23 and 24 and peek inside the smaller temples and alleys to see how others are celebrating the new year.
- Ayutthaya. From January 24 to 29 Ayutthaya will have an evening festival on Naresuan Road, which will include Chinese lanterns, dragon dances, a beauty pageant and a food festival.
- Chiang Mai. In Chiang Mai up north they will celebrate Chinese New Year on January 23 and 24. The Chinese National Opera will perform on January 24 and there will be street festivities along Lao Chow Lane.
- Phuket. Phuket hosts its own Chinese New Year Festival, which is being held between January 28 and 30 this year. As Sino-Portuguese historic Phuket Town was developed by Chinese merchants, it's no surprise that this is where most of the festivities will take place, including a parade, some cultural exhibitions and, of course, lion and dragon dances.
- Shop Anywhere. While it may be just another excuse to shop, during Chinese New Year shops all over the country have big sales and other events, so malls are often packed during the holiday.
Eat Anywhere. Thailand's love affair with food continues during Chinese New Year. One very popular way to culinarily celebrate the new year in Thailand is by having a big banquet meal. In Bangkok, nearly all of the larger hotels offer Chinese New Year Banquets -- large multi-course meals with traditional Chinese dishes.