Although the Bangkok Post recently called it a “fading tradition”, Chinese New Year still carries quite a punch as far as Thailand’s festivals are concerned. With around 15% of Thailand's population of 65 million of Chinese descent, it’s no wonder!
Although not a public holiday, quite a few businesses will close on Chinese New Year, especially in metropolitan China Town areas.
Commencing on the first full moon after the sun enters Aquarius, this year it’s the “Year of the Rat” being celebrated.
First in a cycle of 12 animals, the Year of the Rat is traditionally a period of renewal and change through hard work, so why not party before all that kicks in?
If you are a visitor to these shores, wherever you are in Thailand, there will be somewhere to celebrate.
Expect parades, exhibitions, floats, Chinese opera, Lion dances and, of course, Chinese dragons. The department stores organize sales for the period and hotels and restaurants put on lavish feasts! Jellyfish Salad, Hong Kong-style “suckling pig", shark's fin soup – it’s all there with a range of prices, some of which no doubt will fit your budget! The best place to check out hotel and restaurant specials is the local English language newspapers.
Of course, Bangkok’s China Town is where Thailand’s Chinese community will focus its celebrations. The ‘Thai-Chinese Friendship Avenue’ (Thai-Chinese Gate), Traimit Road (Wat Traimit), Charoen Krung Road, Chalermphrakiat Arch, Yaowarat Road and Ratchawong Road, all in the heart of Bangkok’s ‘Chinatown’, will see a sea of red, a mass of fireworks, and plenty of fun.
Admission is free so if you are in the capital get down there. 1, 7, 8, 37, 49 and 75 buses will take you into Chinatown, and if you want to take a river boat, Tha Ratchawong pier is close to Yaowarat Road.
Hua Lamphong Railway Station is only a stone’s throw from the action and there is an MRT (subway / underground) station there for major convenience.