Hong Kong Chinese New Year tour is always better before or after the first 3-5 days of the festival. Because most of the stores close during these few days. This city looks like a ghost city.
If you can see the Lion Dance like this during your Hong Kong trip in Chinese New Year, you are very lucky.
What to do before and after Chinese New Year?
It depends on what kind of person you are. If you love shopping, before Chinese New Year comes, you can go crazy in everything. If you love the feel of the Chinese festival atmosphere, Chinese New Year Eve onwards would be your days.
This festival follows the lunar calendar. Therefore, to plan a Hong Kong Chinese New Year tour is different every year.
Click here to check out the schedule
Hong Kong Chinese New Year tour includes lighting appreciation, shopping, Chinese food, dragon dance and fire works.
It usually changes from the
Christmas to Chinese New Year lighting right after the other every year.
The only exception is that the festivals are too far apart from each
other. Since every year (for 12 years in a row) has different animals
to represent it. In essence, there is a different theme for each year.
For more about the Chinese zodiacs,
The Chinese New Year lighting is as great as the one during Christmas time. It also concentrates in about the same area, i.e. Tsim Sha Tsui (a.k.a. TST), Kowloon Peninsula and Central, Hong Kong Island.
If you don't have time to walk around or it's too crowded, you can take a Hong Kong Star Ferry Tour or a Junk Boat ride where you can look at the Chinese New Year lighting on both sides of Victoria Harbour.
What are in the malls for You?
The peach blossom, one of the most popular Chinese New Year flowers, hanging upside down in the Times Square, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
(photo source: montrealgazette.com)
Instead of big Christmas trees in the shopping malls, you will see many Chinese theme decorations, such as the animal that will represent the coming year, Chinese paper cutting, greetings and so forth. Sometimes, you may see your favorite cartoon characters, for instance, Mickey Mouse, Hello Kitty and so forth, putting on traditional Chinese New Years clothes.
When I visited in 2009, I was in Cyberport. There was an exhibition of Chinese New Year lanterns. The best of all, it show cased the largest frame-less lantern in the world. I was so happy to see that.
Chinese New Year decoration in a mall
The biggest Chinese lantern in the world - Closeup
The big lantern looks pretty small compared to the mall's exhibition area
By looking at the above 2 pictures, you may able to estimate how BIG this lantern was. It was almost 2 stories high. At the same time, there were other smaller lanterns.
Above 3 are just the small lanterns. Compared to the world's biggest lantern, their size is 1/500 of the biggest one. Amazing, huh?
The above 3 lanterns are much smaller which are actually the normal size. They are about one foot tall and about 6 inches wide.
Most of the big shopping malls are open until midnight. The closer it gets to the Chinese New Year, the better the sales you will find, especially shoes . Chinese don't buy shoes in the first month after Chinese New Year because it symbolizes bad luck. Are you the shoe lover? I can guarantee you that you can find many great steals with superb quality during this time.
Just bare in mind that the best time is before Chinese New Year. After that, the deals will not be that great.
Hong Kong Chinese New Year Tour
The Chinese New Year Hong Kong Victoria Park Flea Market...the price of everything, especially plants, would be ridiculous cheap after the countdown. When my grandparents were around, this was one of the must-do activities before the festival.
(photo source: sassyhongkong.com)
What about Chinese New Year "Flea Market" shopping? The setup is similar to "flea market". But you can find some gadgets, Lunar New Year flowers and food. The later at night you go, the more people and the heavier the festival atmosphere. And just before closing, you will find great deals as well.
We usually go to the one in the Victoria Park, Hong Kong. It starts about 2 weeks before the festival and ends on Chinese New Years Eve. If you have kid(s), you either stay away from it or have a good strategy of not getting lost. The crowd is very, very HUGE. Security is your top priority.
Not only the shopping malls and flea market, but also the Hong Kong Wet Market would have different Chinese New Year items. You can buy Chinese New Year food and many, many different designs of red envelopes which will be used in the Chinese New Year. Some of them maybe great for collecting. I personally love to collect them.
A very popular Chinese New Year plant
Chinese New Year Plant
This Chinese New Year plant (in the picture above) can be seen everywhere before and after your Hong Kong Chinese New Year tour. Also the peach blossoms that you can see on the very first picture on this page (those in pink at the bottom of the picture).
These 2 plants can be sold at outrages prices in the Hong Kong Wet Market and "Flea Market" during this period of time. The one in good shapes with many flowers or fruit could cost over USD$100 easy. My grandfather used to spend a fortune on these 2 plants every year.
It is believed that if you have the Chinese New Year plant at home, you must have it every year. If you don't usually have any, don't buy any. Otherwise, it will bring you bad luck and vice versa.
Thanks to my friend, Marble Bee, sharing these pics. Some popular Chinese New Year flowers you can easily find in the Flea Market or Flower Market in Mongkok
What is on Hong Kong TV?
Writing Chinese calligraphy is always part of the Chinese New Year TV special programs. It is always something much more special than writing with a regular Chinese brush, but using a broom or writing it upside down that gives you a "WOW" moment.
On the Chinese New Year's Eve, turn on the TV and see the special programs. They have the count down, fortune telling, Chinese dragon dance and so forth. You can also see how people dress up for the Lunar New Year.
My Chinese painting teacher used to be invited on the TV during this time to write Lunar New Year greeting with Chinese brush. One time, he used a brush as big as a mop.
You will never miss the fortune telling part on Hong Kong TV during this time of the year. Many people will go to see their most trusted fortune tellers. Some of them become celebrities. You may want to consider giving it a try during your Hong Kong Chinese New Year tour.
The first 3 days of the Lunar New Year would be super quiet. Hong Kong is like a ghost town. Most stores close for at least 3 days in the year.
In the last decade, some restaurants open. But they used to charge double to quadruple. With the keen competition and the demand of Chinese mainland tourists, this practice disappeared.
My mom's birthday in 2013 happened to be on the first day of the Chinese New Year. So, the whole family dined out to celebrate with her. The restaurant just charged the regular price.
The Chinese New Year Fireworks
The second night of the Hong Kong Chinese New Year tour is the fireworks night. It is a MUST. If you love fireworks, wait till you see the scale here. With the Lunar New Year lighting on both sides of the Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong is just like a gigantic diamond.
I still remember when I was 10 years old, we always have a family dinner at my grandparents' apartment in Wanchai, especially the second day of the Lunar New Year. My grandmother (from my mother's side) loved to cook so much. So, we always got tons of food.
Back then, the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre didn't even break ground yet. There were just a few buildings in front of their apartment. We just peeked our heads out of the windows to see the fireworks. We didn't need to worry about going to the harbour front and find a great spot scrambling into the big crowd. We could just see it right there live.
Chinese New Year Food
How can you miss the food shopping during your Hong Kong Chinese New Year tour? There are a lot of special food, candies and snack available during this period of the year. And many of them only available during this time.
Most Chinese New Year food is about the name of the dish which symbolizes good luck, health, blessing and prosperity. Here are a few of them:
1) Fish ("Yu") means wealth
2) Lettuce ("Sang Choi) means prosperity
3) Cake ("Ko") likes the radish cake in the picture below means growth
Some dishes are also served on some other special occasions, such as birthday. If you miss the Hong Kong Chinese New Year tour, you may able to enjoy the dishes in Cantonese restaurants. The radish cake below sometimes is served as "Dim Sum".
Photo source: Pokfulamvillage.org
Chinese radishes making Chinese Radish Cake. We call it the "White Carrot". Some people think that cooking this ingredient in the house makes it stinky and smelly. Some loves it.
Photo source: Pokfulamvillage.org
Radish cake is one of the must-eat during the Chinese New Year. Many Hong Kong people know how to make this from scratch.
Other activities You may see during the Hong Kong Chinese New Year Tour
Nothing is better than watching the Chinese Dragon dance live. The coordination of everybody in the performance is magnificent. It most probably easier to see this on the TV than on the street nowadays.
Starting from the 4th day, you will see many activities in Hong Kong again, but not completely 'cos some stores still stay closed. Going to the New Territories or outlying islands, you will have better chances to see dragon dance live on the street and/or their homemade fireworks which is illegal in Hong Kong.
Since the firework is illegal, please be careful. Safety is your FIRST priority. There are people getting hurt every year.
In 2009, I was back to Hong Kong a few days after the Chinese New Year started. I was in Jardine's Crescent, Causeway Bay and happened to see the dragon dance live. Yes, the LIVE show. It didn't last very long. But it was awesome. I haven't seen a live one in front of my eyes for years.
There are organizations that provide this service for living. One of my uncles used to run a team performing this. It's not very easy to see the live show as before. If you happen to watch this, you are very lucky in that Hong Kong Chinese New Year Tour.
You can feel this atmosphere for the rest of the month of the Hong Kong Chinese New Year Tour.
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