Travel

Enjoy Chinese New Year in Hong Kong

Chinese New Year is celebrated in Hong Kong with ardour, glamour and flavour as a buoyant mood pervades the city.

The Hong Kong Tourism Board recommends a four-day, three-night itinerary as the Year of the Dog transcends to the Pig.

DAY 1

Eve of CNY (Feb 4)

Rub shoulders with locals at flower market

Arrive in Hong Kong before the Year of the Dog ends to catch one of the most convivial flower markets in the city, where locals shop for seasonal flowers and plants that symbolise different well wishes, such as cherry blossoms, which are believed to improve personal - particularly romantic - relationships, and water bamboos, which are said to bring wealth.

For a full experience, visit Victoria Park or Fa Hui Park, two of the biggest and most popular flower markets which are packed with people in the evening.

DAY 2

First day of CNY (Feb 5)

Start the new year with spiritual walk and healthy lunch

Many Hong Kongers like to go hiking on the first day of Chinese New Year, as climbing uphill signifies progress in life.

The perfect place to go for such a walk is Lantau Island, home to the world's tallest sitting Buddha statue built outdoors.

Start the journey by taking the cable car from Tung Chung to marvel at views of lush greenery and the sea along the way.

Stop at Ngong Ping Village to visit the Good Luck Garden, before sampling Chinese vegetarian dishes at Po Lin Monastery.

Do take time to admire the Big Buddha next to the temple.

Join biggest Chinese New Year soiree in town

Head to Tsim Sha Tsui early to secure a spot for viewing the Cathay Pacific International Chinese New Year Night Parade that kicks off at 8pm, a signature event that began in 1996.

As the evening approaches, roving performers begin to emerge along the parade route starting from 6pm, before floats including those by Hong Kong Disneyland and Ocean Park Hong Kong as well as dancers, acrobats and other performers from around the world take over the major roads.

Paid spectator seats are also available on a first-come, first-served basis for those who want to enjoy the extravaganza at the starting point next to the iconic Hong Kong Cultural Centre.

DAY 3

Second day of CNY (Feb 6)

Make a wish and aim high

Venture to the New Territories for some morning fresh air and try placard-throwing at the Hong Kong Well Wishing Festival in Lam Tsuen, Tai Po.

Initially a tradition of the village, it gradually came to attract people from across the city.

Buy a placard, which is tied to an orange, write your wishes on it, and throw it at the imitation Wishing Tree.

The higher the placard hangs, the greater chance for the wishes to come true.

Feast your eyes on a different type of 'flower'

Fireworks, or literally "smoke flower" in Cantonese, are an integral part of festive celebrations in Hong Kong.

For many years running, a fireworks display is staged above Victoria Harbour on the second day of Chinese New Year at 8pm.

The 30-minute spectacle can be best viewed for free along the harbourfront in Tsim Sha Tsui, the Golden Bauhinia Square in Wan Chai or International Finance Centre in Central.

It is also a good idea to enjoy dinner at the same time at restaurants overlooking the harbour.

Day 4

Third day of CNY (Feb 7)

Spin the windmill and turn your fortune around

Paying respect to the deities is a customary practice among the locals, especially the older generation.

For a glimpse into this tradition, visit Che Kung Temple in Tai Wai, which attracts crowds of avid worshippers every year around this time.

Try "kau chim", or fortune stick drawing, to see what fortune awaits in the Year of the Pig. Remember to spin the temple's famous copper windmill clockwise to summon good luck in the new year.

Get an adrenaline rush at the city's popular sporting event

From Che Kung Temple, take the MTR East Rail line to the Sha Tin Racecourse for the Chinese New Year Race Day from 11am to 6pm. The special races, which are the first in the Year of the Pig, provide the perfect opportunity for visitors to experience horseracing, a popular activity in Hong Kong.

Place a small bet to get in the mood and cheer on the jockey of your choice by shouting the number of the horse you bet on like the locals.

TOURISM & TRAVEL