6 Must-Experience Chinese New Year Traditions in Southeast Asia

6 Must-Experience Chinese New Year Traditions in Southeast Asia
chinese new year in malaysia
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Dragon dances, fireworks, vibrant red lanterns, red dresses, and anything red make up the Chinese New Year traditions Southeast Asia. These are the usual way of celebrating Chinese New Year across the world. But in Southeast Asia, it’s celebrated differently in the most exciting way!

In this article, we’ve rounded up a list of six amazing Chinese New Year Traditions Southeast Asia that will make you want to visit each country and celebrate the Lunar New Year there.

1. Singapore

Photo from Choo Yut Shing

Got any wishes? The Chinatown Wishing Tree in Orchard Road always takes the spotlight because people are always excited to see this. Simply tie your written wish to an orange (which is the Chinese symbol for longevity) then throw it at the tree. If it latches onto one of the branches and stays put, your wish is said to come true. This is definitely one of the most fun Chinese New Year traditions Southeast Asia you shouldn’t miss!

2. Hong Kong

Photo source

Make sure you have plenty of cash at hand, because giving them away is one of the widely practiced Chinese New Year traditions Southeast Asia in Hong Kong. Exchanged in lai see packets, colored red and gold for good luck and prosperity, they can be given by anyone! Just remember to give just one banknote, and stay away from amounts with the number 4 and odd numbers to avoid bad luck!

3. Malaysia

people eating yee sang malaysia

The practice of eating yee sang (raw fish salad) to welcome the Chinese New Year is exclusive to Malaysia and Singapore. What makes this Chinese New Year traditions Southeast Asia extra special is the theatricality of tossing the ingredients into the air while shouting your wishes for the new year.

4. Philippines

people watching dragon dance in binondo, manila

On the day of the Lunar New Year, dragon and lion dancers would move from one establishment to another to bring good luck and prosperity to the households and businesses, picking up the ang pao hanging on the doorway as they go along. This is one of the most fun Chinese New Year traditions Southeast Asia. Be sure to check out the Chinatown in Binondo, Manila for an amazing Chinese New Year experience!

5. Indonesia

tatung men in indonesia

Cap Go Meh, also known as the “happy day”, which translates to the 15th night and last day of Imek (Lunar New Year), is celebrated by the Indonesians in the most unique way possible. They have the Tatung Parade which is a fusion of Chinese and Borneo’s cultures. Tatung are mediums that are believed to be possessed by gods or spirits, and can have extraordinary capabilities.

Tatung men, women, and even children, walk on the streets with sharp steel rods pierced through their faces, sit on thrones of nails and step on swords but they show no indication of pain nor bleeding. It is believed that this demonstration scare evil spirits away, keeping the city safe. Don’t miss this when visiting Indonesia for the Lunar New Year as this activity is one of the most interesting Chinese New Year traditions Southeast Asia.

6. Thailand

dragon dance for chinese new year thailand

According to Minority Rights Group International, Chinese make up roughly 10-12% of the population of Thailand with an estimated 6-7.2 million Chinese. That’s why it’s no doubt that the Chinese New year is widely celebrated in Thailand. Some of their traditions are the parade of bright lights, colorful floats, illuminated dragons, performers in vibrant costumes, procession of acrobats and dancers, believed to please the gods and bless the province.

When visiting any of these places for the Chinese New Year, make sure to book your hotels with ZEN Rooms so you can enjoy quality accommodation with great amenities at the lowest price!

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