Chinese New Year in Bangkok is celebrated in style, especially in the Chinatown district, which is known locally as Yaowaraj. This year the event falls tomorrow, on January 31st 2014, and as it will be a Friday you can be sure that things will really go off with a bang.
People who wander the streets of Yaowaraj on January 31st will find them full of colourful dragon dancers, while vibrant street parades snake their way through the district. The air will be full of the smell of incense and the sound of firecrackers as well as music and laughing from the crowds that gather to watch the magic unfold and take part.
Bangkok boasts a large Chinese community, and on Chinese New Year’s eve families gather to visit their local Chinese temple, give gifts of money to each other in special red envelopes and enjoy a banquet. Several generations of the family usually get together at this time, and this is a fun filled occasion that often goes on long into the night.
People who want to witness a traditional Chinese ceremony should make their way to the Leng Noei Yi temple. This large place of worship can be found on Charoen Krung Street in the heart of the Yaowaraj district and hosts several special services at this time of year.
The festivities continue the next day and are a more public affair. Members of the local community take to the streets to celebrate together with large street parades. It is believed that on this day the Nien, which is a mythical beast that plays havoc in homes, appears. To ward off this spirit, people place food on their doorsteps and set off firecrackers. People also decorate their doors to prevent the Nien from entering their homes. Wearing red is also believed to help keep the Nien at bay, and most people can be seen wearing gorgeous red silk dresses, shirts and other garments.
Everyone is welcome!
The streets of Yaowaraj and many other parts of Bangkok are decorated with red paper lanterns and banners in the days leading up to Chinese New Year. The whole district is decked in red and acrobatic dancers, groups of people wearing large traditional dragon costumes and a range of other weird and wonderful characters weave through the scene.
Fireworks play an important role in the Chinese culture, and the event comes to a close late in the evening with a stunning firework display, which lights up the sky and can be seen from various parts of the city.
Chinese New Year is also the perfect time to sample traditional Chinese cuisine, and a large number of special banquets are held at this time of year. Chinese restaurants throughout the city of Bangkok host special banquets featuring delicacies from all over China.
One of the great things about Chinese New Year is that everyone is welcome to join in the fun. Whether you prefer to capture the action from behind your camera or throw caution to the wind and join the crowds as they laugh, cheer and dance along with the street parades, you will be met with friendly smiles and encouragement from everyone involved.
Kung Hei Fat Choi!