With parades, dragon dancing, floats, firecrackers, beautiful Chinese lanterns and much more, Chinese New Year — also known as the Lunar New Year or the Spring Festival — brings out some of the most elaborate and colourful celebrations in the world. Today, Chinese New Year is celebrated across the globe in many different locations — and we’ve compiled a list of the cities that do it best.
NOTICE: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic some countries on the list below are closed to foreign nationals, meaning unfortunately you will be unable to visit some Asian destinations celebrating the Lunar New Year.
Photo credit: Shizhao
China is currently closed to foreign nationals
Where better to spend Chinese New Year than the capital of China, Beijing? Beijing hosts the biggest and longest Lunar New Year parades. Whether it’s carnivals, street parties, festivals or celebrations in temples, Beijing is perfect for those looking for an authentic way to spend Chinese New Year. Watch traditional performances, snack on local street food and immerse yourself in the Chinese culture as Beijing proudly boasts itself as China’s biggest party of the year. But look out for any social distancing measures in place as it may mean that some events are cancelled.
Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK) is the best airport in Beijing to fly into for Chinese New Year. Airlines that fly into Beijing Capital International include Air China, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Hainan Airlines, KLM, SWISS, Shandong Airlines, Shanghai Airlines and Sichuan Airlines.
Photo credit: Jalan Alor
Malaysia is currently closed to foreign nationals
While Kuala Lumpur might be less busy than other places to celebrate the Chinese New Year on this list, don’t let that fool you into thinking that the festivities are any less spectacular. Kuala Lumpur holds festivals throughout each one of the 15 days of the Lunar New Year — with the highlight being the beautifully decorated Thean Hou temple, where many of Malaysia’s ethnic Chinese population come to worship the gods and pay tribute to their ancestors. Under the new COVID-19 restrictions, temples are only available to visit between 6 AM to 2 PM.
If you’re planning to visit Kuala Lumpur for the Lunar New Year, you should fly into Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL). You can fly into Kuala Lumpur International on airlines such as Malaysia Airlines, All Nippon Airways, Qatar Airways, Emirates, Malindo Air and British Airways.
__Thailand is open but you may be required to quarantine for 7 days and show proof of a negative PCR test. __
Bangkok is always busy and vibrant — so it’s no surprise that Chinese New Year in Thailand’s capital is the same. If you’ve read about Bangkok in our best cities to spend New Year's Eve blog, expect much of the same but with a Lunar New Year twist — lion dancing, dragon parades and the awe-inspiring sight of Chinese hanging lanterns lighting up the city after dark.
The best place to spend the Lunar New Year in Bangkok is undoubtedly in and around Bangkok’s Chinatown, where both the Thai-Chinese population and tourists gather to witness a number of special ceremonies.
If you’re visiting Bangkok for Chinese New Year, you have two options. You can either fly into Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) or Bangkok Don Mueang International Airport (DMK), depending on where you’re flying from. Airlines that fly into Bangkok include Thai Airways, Jetstar Airways, EVA Air, Emirates, Cathay Pacific, Bangkok Airways, Oman Air, and EVA Air.
Hong Kong SAR is open to foreign nationals, however, you will be required to present a neagtive PCR on arrival and isolate for 21 days.
Hong Kong is one of the most diverse cities in Asia for celebrating Chinese New Year. Hong Kong has street parades, temple ceremonies and a gigantic firework display on the harbour.
But it also offers more unique ways to see in the Lunar New Year — such as at Disneyland Hong Kong, where all the classic Disney characters dress in Chinese garments or Sha Tin Racecourse, where tens of thousands of people try their luck for the year ahead at Hong Kong’s biggest race day of the year. ** Unfortunately, 2021 fireworks in HK has been cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions*
The best airport to fly into if you’re visiting Hong Kong over the Lunar New Year is Hong Kong International Airport(HGK). Airlines that fly into Hong Kong International include Hong Kong Airlines, Air France, Cathay Dragon, HK Express, Royal Jordanian and Scandinavian Airlines. If you’ve got some spare time, Hong Kong International is also a great place to do some shopping!
The United States of America is open for international arrivals, however, you will be required to show proof of a negative PCR test or Rapid Antigen Test.
With the oldest and largest Chinatown in the US — spending the Lunar New Year in San Francisco is the closest you’ll get to an authentic Chinese New Year outside of Asia. Chinese New Year in San Francisco is famous for its parade of floats — the most notable one being a 28-foot long golden dragon!
Find out more about San Francisco in our guide to the San Francisco Bay Area.
San Francisco has three different choices of airport which are well-connected to the city by public transport. These are San Francisco International Airport (SFO), Oakland International Airport (OAK) and San Jose International Airport (SJC). These airports can be reached by airlines such as Alaska Airlines, Norwegian, Volaris, KLM, Virgin Atlantic, Sun Country Airlines, Allegiant Air, Singapore Airlines, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, Delta and Philippine Airlines.
Photo credit: John Pannell
The United Kingdom is open to foreign travellers, However you must present a negative PCR or Rapid Antigen Test on arrival.
London is host to the biggest Chinese New Year celebrations outside of Asia, with a huge day parade dancing its way from Charing Cross Road to the city’s Chinatown, as well as traditional festivities in Trafalgar Square and several stage performances in the West End.
Unlike many other Chinese New Year celebrations, London’s mega-event is compressed into one day and usually takes place on the weekend following the Lunar New Year. In 2021, it will be held online on 14th January.
If you’re flying into London for Chinese New Year, you can either fly into London Heathrow Airport (LHR) or London Gatwick Airport (LGW). London can be reached on the following airlines British Airways, easyJet, Norwegian, Flybe and Virgin Atlantic.
Canada is open for foreign travellers. You are required to present a negative PCR test on arrival.
In British Columbia, there are actually two different ways to celebrate the Chinese New Year and they’re both conveniently close together! Whether you celebrate at Vancouver’s annual Chinatown parade or visit the International Buddhist Temple in Richmond — which is designed to resemble the Forbidden City in Beijing — the Lunar New Year in British Columbia is a magical experience that’s tough to beat.
The best airport to fly into in Vancouver is Vancouver International Airport (YVR), which is located in Richmond. Airlines that fly to Vancouver International Airport include Air Canada, Air Canada Express, Aeromexico, WestJet and Air Transat.
France has opened its borders to foreign nationals. However, you must present evidence of a negative PCR or Rapid Antigen Test on arrival.
Head to Paris for Chinese New Year and see the iconic Eiffel Tower lit up in red for the special occasion. The Marais District Parade is a traditional Chinese parade that leaves from Place de la République. However, you can find something a little different in the 3rd arrondissement (live music, workshops and martial arts) and the 13th arrondissement (exhibitions, performances and opera).
The main airport in Paris is Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG). You can fly to Paris Charles de Gaulle on Air France, ASL Airlines France, Aeroflot, easyJet, Flybe, Norwegian, Lufthansa, XL Airways France and Vueling.
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