Chinese New Year in Bangkok

  • Posted onMay 6th, 2013

Chinese Lanterns BangkokWith Thai-Chinese citizens said to make up close to 10% of the Thai population, there’s no wonder the city is buzzing when it comes to celebrating the Chinese New Year. Yaowarat, better known as Bangkok’s Chinatown, is clearly the centre of attention, as worshippers, families, and partygoers all flock here for Chinese New Year to watch the dragon dancers, listen to traditional Chinese music, and eat lots and lots of delicious Chinese sweets and cakes.

Yaowarat becomes a street long carnival, though it’s not all partying and celebrations, many head to the temples of Chinatown to give praise and thanks to the spirits. Elsewhere in the city many restaurants and shopping malls will celebrate  with Chinese themes and promotions, while the many Chinese restaurants in the city will offer affordable banqueting for those willing to celebrate with traditional Chinese fare.

Happy Chinese New Year BangkokTo holiday or not to holiday..

Despite being such a big event and celebration in Thailand Chinese New Year is not an official Thai holiday – though many Bangkokians choose to take the day off in order to join in with the festivities. The date itself changes from year to year, determined by the Chinese Lunar Calendar, though it is usually a date around late January or early February.

While it’s hard to avoid the fun and frolics happening around town, it’s also worth taking time to be peaceful and spiritual, paying your respect to the gods and ancestors, as this is what it is really about. Many locals like to share a large meal with their close family, while westerners and expats in the city can use it as a good excuse to dine and catch up with friends.

Another tradition takes place on the evening of the New Years Eve, when adults hand out envelops of money to young relatives, called ‘and-pao.’ While during New Years Day many Thai Chinese will visit relatives and hand out fruit (oranges in particular), as a way of wishing them a happy and prosperous new year.


The story goes that every night of New Year’s Eve a wild, mysterious beast known as ‘Nien,’ would enter the villages and wreak havoc, stealing food and valuables, and often leaving homes destroyed. As a means or prevention villagers started to leave out food offerings, and decorate their homes in red and gold, or in order to scare the dragon like creature away, they would dress in red and let off loud fire crackers – all of which goes to explain many of the events and traditions you’ll witness in during the Bangkok Chinese New Year celebrations today.

Chinatown Celebrations BangkokWhere to head

It goes without saying that the best place to witness the main events of Chinese New Year in Bangkok is along Yaowarat Road, where the whole of Chinatown is decorated red and gold, with thousands of lanterns hanging above the streets, and lots of musical and artistic shows taking place, such as dragon dancers and circus -like acrobatics, and lots of deafening fire crackers! Oh and don’t forget all the delicious food on offer!

Also try to make time to visit the Lengnoeiyi Temple on Charoen Krung Street, where you can witness all the worshippers and even pay your own respects gods, with hopes for a good new year to come. You can also shake the bamboo for ‘siem-see’ (Chinese fortune sticks), which are said to offer you advice and guidance regarding any lingering problems you may be taking into the new year.


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