Thailand is home to the largest overseas Chinese community in the world, with Thai-Chinese making up 14% of the population. With such a prominent and well-integrated Chinese community, it comes as no surprise Chinese New Year is widely celebrated in Thailand.
Chinese New Year lands on Thursday, 19th February 2015 and marks the start of the Year of the Goat. While not an official holiday, fantastic events take place across the country, such as the Phuket and Suphan Buri Chinese New Year festivals.
Bangkok has its very own Chinatown, known locally as the area of Yaowarat, and if you’re lucky enough to be in Bangkok over Chinese New Year, this is the place to be!
Chinese New Year traditions
On New Year’s Eve prayers are made to the gods and respect paid to ancestors. In the evening the family gathers round to indulge in a lavish, home-cooked meal. The adults hand out red envelopes filled with pocket money as gifts for the children.
New Year’s Day is a time for celebration. Traditionally oranges are exchanged to wish people a happy New Year. The festivities spill out onto the streets where massive parades are held. Make sure you don’t miss the dragon parades which usually takes place from 3pm onwards. Dancers and drummers march through the streets accompanied by traditional Chinese dragons. The evening parades offer even more of a spectacle. The streets lit by lanterns, the dragons are illuminated and acrobats perform surrounded by firecrackers.
The colour red has become synonymous with Chinese New Year so expect to see entire streets covered in red lanterns, banners and posters. Join in and wear something red yourself to really get into the festive spirit.
Visit a temple
The streets of Yaowarat can get very busy during the New Year celebrations, so if you want a break from the hustle and bustle stop off at one of the surrounding Chinese temples. The major temples in the area are usually visited by the Thai royalty and are heavily decorated for their arrival. Incense fills the air and at dusk the temples are lit by hundreds of hanging lanterns, creating a truly magical atmosphere.
What NOT to do
To really immerse yourself in the spirit of Chinese New Year, there are some activities that are considered bad luck if you do them during New Year’s Day, so stay clear! Don’t argue or curse at anyone, don’t wash your hair, don’t trip over or break anything and don’t do any work. Avoid these and your fortunes will prove prosperous.
Happy Chinese New Year from us all at Tourism Thailand!