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Discover the countries that celebrate Lunar New Year

Get ready to embark on a spectacular journey through the countries that light up during the Lunar New Year. From the lively lanes of Vietnam to the festive spirit of South Korea, our guide takes you on a tour of the world’s most incredible Lunar New Year celebrations.

We’re here to take the hassle out of your travel plans. With our extensive selection of over 160 currencies, ManorFX ensures you get the best rates for your trip. Whether you’re watching dragon dances in the heart of Beijing or enjoying traditional sweets in Seoul, we’ve got your travel money sorted.

Are you ready to immerse yourself in the magic of the Lunar New Year? Then let’s dive into the heart of Lunar New Year celebrations together. 

What is Lunar New Year?

Lunar New Year is also known as the Spring Festival. It has roots deep in Chinese history and is linked to the Chinese lunar-solar calendar. The festival marks the end of the coldest days and welcomes spring and its promise of new life and new beginnings. 

Over time, Lunar New Year has spread and is now celebrated in various countries across Asia and around the world. Each place has unique customs and traditions, but the core idea of family and ushering in good fortune remains the same. 

People celebrate the festival with fireworks and delicious food with their family members. It’s a time filled with colourful traditions and the famous red paper envelopes, known as hongbao or lucky money. 

When is the Lunar New Year?

The date for the Lunar New Year changes every year. It’s based on the lunar calendar but usually falls between January and February. In 2024, the celebration starts on 10th February.

Celebrations aren’t just for one day; they take place over the next 15 days, closing with the Lantern Festival. This marks the first full moon of the new lunar year!

Traditional colourful chinese lion.

Welcoming the Year of the Dragon

The Lunar New Year celebrations are associated with a different animal from the Chinese zodiac each year. 

2024 welcomes the year of the Dragon, a symbol of strength, luck, and power. Known for its boldness and bravery, the Dragon is one of the most revered signs in the zodiac. So get ready to see streets and homes adorned with decorations inspired by this mythical creature!

Cultural differences: Did you know that some countries celebrate different animals? In 2023, Vietnam celebrated the Year of the Cat, while many other countries welcomed the Year of the Rabbit.

Which countries celebrate the Lunar New Year?

Lunar New Year is a celebration across South and East Asia. Festivals occur in China, Vietnam, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Taiwan, Brunei, Mongolia, Thailand and Indonesia to name a few.

Let’s explore each country’s unique traditions for welcoming the new year! 

China

Get ready to dive into the vibrant traditions of Lunar New Year in China. From the mesmerising Dragon Dance to the warmth of family reunions, Chinese New Year is an explosion of culture and Chinese traditions you won’t want to miss. 

Travel time

The travel time from the UK to Beijing is approximately 10 -11 hours by plane.

Quick reminder: If you’re flying to other cities in China or your flight has stopovers, the journey could be longer.

Chinese New Year celebrations and festivities:

  • Witness the dragon dance: The Lunar New Year isn’t complete without the Dragon Dance in China. You’ll see these magnificent, long dragons weaving through the streets, operated by a team of dancers. 
  • Visit a traditional temple fair: These fairs are filled with cultural performances, traditional crafts, and delicious food. It’s a fantastic way to experience authentic Chinese culture and enjoy festive fun. Each fair has unique attractions – no two are the same!
  • Sample unique New Year dishes: Foodies, rejoice! Lunar New Year is a time for some amazing traditional dishes. Take the chance to try Jiaozi (dumplings), which symbolises wealth, or Nian Gao (rice cake), which represents growth. 

Let us handle changing your pounds to Chinese yuan. This way, you can fully immerse yourself and celebrate Chinese New Year without currency worries!

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Dragon and lion dance show in  Lunar New Year festival.

Vietnam

Embrace the unique and captivating traditions of Lunar New Year, or Tết Nguyên Đán, in Vietnam. From the vibrant Tet markets to heartfelt family gatherings, Vietnam’s Lunar New Year celebration is a rich tapestry of customs and joy.

Travel time

The journey from the UK to Hanoi typically takes about 12 hours by plane.

Lunar New Year traditions and festivities:

  • Experience the Tet markets: Vietnam’s Lunar New Year is synonymous with its bustling Tet markets. You’ll find streets filled with festive goods, decorations, and traditional Tet treats. It’s a lively and colourful way to soak in the local atmosphere.
  • Visit pagodas and temples: During Tet, many Vietnamese visit pagodas and temples to pray for a prosperous year ahead. It’s a serene and beautiful experience, offering a glimpse into the spiritual side of Vietnamese culture.
  • Enjoy traditional Tet foods: Get ready for a culinary adventure! Tet is a time for special dishes like Banh Chung (sticky rice cake) and Xoi Gac (red sticky rice). 

Let us handle your currency needs by converting your pounds to Vietnamese dong. With that sorted, you can dive into Vietnam’s Lunar New Year festivities worry-free!

South Korea

Lunar New Year is called Seollal (설날) in South Korea. It’s a time when traditional attire, known as “hanbok,” is proudly worn. Many Koreans, both young and old, don these colourful and elegant garments during the festivities. 

Travel time

Flying from the UK to Seoul takes around 11 hours by plane.

Lunar New Year traditions and festivities:

  • Explore Seollal markets: During Seollal, South Korea comes alive with vibrant markets. Wander through stalls selling holiday decorations, traditional Hanbok clothing, and delicious Korean New Year treats. 
  • Participate in ancestral rites (Charye): One of the most significant Seollal traditions is Charye. Here, families honour their ancestors with a ceremonial table setting. It’s a profoundly respectful and beautiful ritual.
  • Savour Seollal delicacies: Your taste buds are in for a treat with Seollal specialities. Tteokguk (rice cake soup) symbolises a fresh start and good luck for the year. 

Let us handle the currency exchange from GBP to South Korean won for you. With your money worries out of the way, you can fully immerse yourself in the wonders of Seollal in South Korea! 

Red lanterns decorations at Thean Hou Temple in Kuala Lumpur.

Malaysia

Lunar New Year is a cherished celebration among the Malaysian Chinese community. This vibrant festival is a tapestry of customs and joy that’s a must-experience.

Travel time

The journey from the UK to Malaysia typically takes about 13 hours by plane.

Lunar New Year traditions and festivities:

  • Visit open houses: People of different ethnic backgrounds open their homes to friends, neighbours, and strangers. They offer delicious food and warm hospitality.
  • View fireworks and firecrackers: Fireworks displays and firecrackers light up the Malaysian sky during the Lunar New Year.
  • Experience special Lunar New Year dishes: Malaysian Lunar New Year is a culinary delight. Unique dishes like Yee Sang (a colourful and flavorful salad), pineapple tarts, and Nian Gao (sticky rice cake) are enjoyed during this time.

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Singapore

In Singapore, Lunar New Year is a time of vibrant traditions and celebrations. Many Singaporeans embrace their cultural heritage by wearing traditional clothing, adding a splash of colour to the festivities.

Travel time

Flight time from the UK to Singapore typically takes around 13 hours.

Lunar New Year traditions and festivities:

  • Garden by the bay: Admire the stunning flower dome and supertree grove, which are beautifully lit for the occasion.
  • River Hongbao: Head to the River Hongbao event at Marina Bay. You’ll see a spectacular display of lanterns, fireworks, and cultural performances.
  • Traditional food: Try local Lunar New Year delicacies like Yu Sheng, Bak Kwa, and pineapple tarts for a taste of the festivities.

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Philippines

Prepare to delve into the vibrant Lunar New Year traditions in the Philippines. From grand parades to delicious street food, the Philippines’ Lunar New Year is an unforgettable experience.

Travel time

The journey from the UK to Manila typically takes about 14-15 hours by plane, so plan accordingly.

Lunar New Year traditions and festivities:

  • Join the grand parade: Don’t miss the lively Lunar New Year parade. It’s filled with vibrant floats, lion and dragon dances, and cultural performances.
  • Explore Chinatown: Binondo comes alive with festive decorations and street food stalls. Why not sample local delicacies like Tikoy (sticky rice cake) and hopia (bean-filled pastry)?
  • Visit Buddhist temples: Explore the serene ambience of Buddhist temples. Seng Guan Temple is the perfect place to engage in prayer and reflection.

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 Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival.

Taiwan

Discover the exciting Lunar New Year traditions in Taiwan! From lively parades to delicious street food, Taiwan’s Lunar New Year offers a blend of cultures.

Travel time

The flight from the UK to Taipei takes 14-15 hours.

Lunar New Year traditions and festivities:

  • Explore Taiwan’s Chinatown: Taipei’s Wanhua District is beautifully adorned with festive decorations and street food stalls. Try local treats like Nian Gao (sticky rice cake) and sesame balls.
  • Visit temples: Experience the peaceful atmosphere of temples. Visit the Longshan Temple and take a moment for prayer and reflection.
  • Experience the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival: Join the magical tradition of releasing lanterns into the night sky.

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Brunei

Immerse yourself in Brunei’s vibrant Lunar New Year traditions! It’s a time when Brunei’s rich heritage and warm hospitality shine, offering an unforgettable experience. Join the excitement and make some amazing memories!

Travel time

The flight from the UK to Brunei typically takes about 14-15 hours.

Lunar New Year traditions and festivities:

  • Delight in the atmosphere of Chinatown: Explore the beautifully adorned streets of Bandar Seri Begawan’s Chinatown. Take the chance to savour local delicacies like Kueh Lapis and peanut cookies.
  • Visit local temples: Experience the serene ambience of temples such as Tamu Kianggeh Temple. You can partake in prayer and contemplation amid the Lunar New Year celebrations.
  • Explore nature: Take advantage of Brunei’s stunning natural beauty by visiting parks and reserves during the holiday. Explore places like Tasek Lama Recreational Park or Ulu Temburong National Park for a serene escape amidst lush greenery.

Trust Manor FX to convert your British pounds to Brunei dollars. That’s one less worry for your Lunar New Year travel plans in Brunei!

Mongolia

Get ready to dive into the vibrant Lunar New Year celebrations in Mongolia! Also known as Tsagaan Sar, it’s a time of immense joy and cultural significance in the land of the nomads.

Travel time

The flight from the UK to Mongolia typically takes about 14-15 hours.

Lunar New Year traditions and festivities:

  • Experience the festive atmosphere: Immerse yourself in the lively streets of Ulaanbaatar’s Lunar New Year celebrations. Take advantage of the opportunity to savour local treats like Buuz (dumplings) and Khuushuur (fried pastries).
  • Visit local temples: Discover the peaceful ambience of temples such as Gandantegchinlen Monastery. You can participate in rituals and enjoy moments of reflection amidst the Lunar New Year festivities.
  • Explore the scenic beauty: Make the most of Mongolia’s breathtaking natural landscapes. Head to places like Terelj National Park for a serene escape surrounded by pristine nature.

Rely on Manor FX for your GBP to Mongolian tugrik currency exchange. That way you can enjoy the Lunar New Year celebrations in Mongolia!

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Locals buying decorative ornament for celebrating Chinese Lunar New Year festival at Bangkok Chinatown street market.

Thailand 

If you plan to celebrate the Lunar New Year in Southeast Asia, visit Thailand. Although it’s not part of a national holiday like in other Asian countries, it’s celebrated among the Thai-Chinese community. 

It’s widely observed in areas with a significant Chinese population, particularly in Bangkok and other major cities.

Travel time

A flight from the UK to Bangkok typically takes about 11-12 hours.

Lunar New Year traditions and festivities:

  • Shop at markets: Explore bustling markets like Chatuchak Weekend Market for unique Lunar New Year gifts, clothing, and souvenirs.
  • Reconnect with nature: Escape the bustling city and unwind in Thailand’s serene natural settings. These include national parks and beaches, perfect for a tranquil Lunar New Year getaway.
  • Savour special Lunar New Year dishes: Thai Lunar New Year is a culinary delight. Take advantage of special dishes like Pad Thai, pineapple tarts, and Khanom Krok (coconut rice pancakes).

In Thailand, the Thai baht is the official currency. Trust Manor FX for competitive exchange rates for your Baht, ensuring a smooth Lunar New Year adventure!

Indonesia

Lunar New Year is celebrated among the Indonesian-Chinese community. While it’s not a national holiday, it is widely observed in Jakarta and other major cities.

Travel time

The flight from the UK to Jakarta typically takes about 13-14 hours.

Lunar New Year traditions and festivities:

  • Explore temple celebrations: Visit temples like Vihara Dharma Bhakti in Jakarta or Brahma Vihara Arama in Bali. This is where the local Chinese-Indonesian community gathers to celebrate Lunar New Year.
  • Experience cultural parades: Attend Lunar New Year parades featuring traditional costumes, martial arts demonstrations, and live music. Jakarta’s Chinatown (Glodok) is known for its lively processions.
  • Enjoy street food: Savour Lunar New Year treats like Bakso (meatball soup), Nian Gao (sticky rice cake), and various Chinese-Indonesian dishes.

In Indonesia, the Indonesian rupiah is the official currency. Manor FX offers competitive exchange rates for your rupiah needs.

Person hanging up lanterns for Lunar New Year

Takeaways

Lunar New Year is a vibrant and diverse celebration that spans several countries. From the grand parades in the Philippines to the serene temple visits in Brunei, there’s a world of Lunar New Year experiences to explore.

No matter where you choose to celebrate, Manor FX is here to ensure your currency exchange needs are met seamlessly.

So, embrace the opportunity to join in the Lunar New Year celebrations. Create lasting memories, and experience the world with the spirit of this festive occasion! 

FAQs

Chinese New Year refers to the New Year celebrated by Chinese people and the Chinese community around the world.

Lunar New Year is a broader term encompassing New Year celebrations of various Asian cultures. These include communities like Vietnamese, Koreans, and Mongolians.

During Chinese New Year, various special foods are enjoyed for their symbolic meanings and delicious flavours:

  • Dumplings, shaped like gold ingots, represent wealth and prosperity. They’re a must-have.
  • Nian Gao, a sticky rice cake, symbolises growth and higher income in the coming year.
  • Fish is served whole to symbolise abundance and prosperity throughout the year.
  • Tangerines and oranges are exchanged as gifts due to their pronunciation, which sounds like “luck” and “wealth” in Chinese.
  • Longevity noodles are served uncut to symbolise a long and prosperous life.
  • Spring rolls symbolise wealth and prosperity because they resemble gold bars.

Lunar New Year is celebrated in several countries across the world.

The major countries include China, Vietnam, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Taiwan, Brunei, Mongolia, Thailand, and Indonesia.

These countries have vibrant Lunar New Year traditions and festivities that vary from one place to another.

Japan doesn’t celebrate the Lunar New Year. The traditional Japanese New Year, known as “Oshogatsu,” based on the Gregorian calendar, is more commonly observed.

This celebration tends to take place from around December 29th to January 3rd. It’s a time brimming with traditions that start in the run-up to New Year’s Eve and carry on into New Year’s Day.

Yes, It’s one of the busiest travel times in China and other countries that celebrate it. The festive atmosphere and vibrant celebrations make it a really exciting time to travel! Here are some tips for travelling around this time:

  • Book early: Flights and hotels fill up fast. Get your reservations in as soon as you can.
  • Expect crowds: Lots of people travel during this time. Be ready for busy streets and tourist spots.
  • Check business hours: Many shops and restaurants may close for the holiday. Plan accordingly.
  • Enjoy local customs: Each country has unique traditions. Join in and experience the culture!
  • Be respectful: Remember, it’s an important festival for locals. Show respect for their customs and enjoy the celebrations!

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