Chinese New Year Attractions in Malaysia´╗┐

To many locals and expats that live in Malaysia, we all know that Chinese New Year is one of the biggest and most important annual holidays for the Chinese and the Chinese community. But what exactly is this holiday?

Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year, marks the start of the new year. Which begins on the second new moon after the winter solstice, and ends on the full moon 15 days later. This holiday is fulls of visits to family and friends, special meals, fireworks and gift giving.

If you’re at a loss on what to do during the Chinese New Year holiday, we’re here to help you! Here are a few Chinese New Year celebrations and traditions in Malaysia during the holidays!

Ang pow

One of the most popular traditions of Chinese New Year is the distribution of ang pow. Which are little red parcels full of money. The distribution of ang pow has crossed cultural lines and is nowadays not only restricted to Chinese locals. It has crossed said cultural borders to the point that Malays and Indians have now adopted it into their own cultural celebrations. Especially during Syawal and Deepavali respectively. In Chinese culture, the red ang pow envelope symbolizes good luck and is thought to ward off evil spirits.

Lucky Oranges

Days leading up to Chinese New Year, places are adorned with red lanterns. Along with the universal slogan of “Gong Xi Fa Cai” – which means “may you be prosperous”. There are usually stalls everywhere selling mandarin oranges as they are very popular during this time of year. In the Chinese culture, mandarins and tangerines are a symbol of prosperity and good luck. Prices are higher during this holiday. In addition, they’re displayed as decorations or given as gifts to many people.

Tossing of Yee Sang

Food-wise, the main dish that is popular during Chinese New Year in Malaysia (and sometimes even Singapore) is Yee Sang. Yee Sang, or the Prosperity Toss, is a teochew-style raw fish salad. It’s believed to bring good health and wealth for the coming year.

In Malaysia, Yee Sang has become so popular to the point that it has been declared as Malaysian heritage food by the Malaysia Department of National Heritage.

The ritual of the tossing of Yee Sang is you and other people to gather around the plate, with each person holding onto a pair of chopsticks and to mix and toss the salad together while they shout “Loh Hei”, which is Cantonese for “toss up good fortune”. The higher you toss the salad, the better the fortune (and unfortunately, the messier the table).

Reunion Dinner

Like any festive occasion in Malaysia, you know that it’s a reason for you to go back home and EAT!!! One of the most important occasions during Chinese New Year is the family reunion dinner. Where families come together and spends their evening together. There’s a legend that goes that on New Years’s eve, it’s tradition to stay up until midnight after the reunion dinner. Then, you’re safe from the evil spirits.

Chap Goh Mei (Lantern Festival)

On the last day of the 2-week celebration, the fireworks and firecrackers are back to tie-up the holiday. “Chap Goh Mei” simply means the 15th day in Hokkien, otherwise known as the Lantern Festival. Nowadays, Chap Goh Mei has a carnival-like vibe with performances that are set up in the middle of town. Traditionally, it’s known as Chinese Valentine’s Day. In Malaysia and Singapore, there’s a tradition where women would write their names and phone numbers on mandarines and throw them into the river for men to scoop up. (It’s essentially a traditional Tinder)

Note:For those that want to join in on the fun, it’s on the 19th of February. And is available to celebrate at these places:

  • Esplanade, Penang– on this night there are competitions. Boys need to scoop up the fruits that the girls threw. The boat that contains the most mandarins wins
  • Thean Hou Temple, Kuala Lumpur– Every year, thousands of people, both locals and tourists, offer prayers to the three deities: the Goddess of the Seas (Thean Hou), the Goddess of the Waterfront (Swei Mei) and the Goddess of Mercy (Kuan Yin)
  • The Quayside, Malacca
  • Danga Bay Convention Centre, Johor Bahru

(If you participate, you should throw the mandarin facing the south-east. The best time is to throw it is in between the time of 5:30pm and 8:59pm.)

Lion Dance

A highlight that definitely cannot be missed during this period are the Lion Dance acts. In each lion costume there are 2 people and although it looks simple, it’s not an easy job. Especially for the person in the back of the costume. The modernised Lion Dance requires the dances to have extreme physical skills – especially when they jump from pole to pole.

NOTE – To travelers, photographers, youtubers and videographers. Please do not interfere with people when they are praying or performing rituals in temples. Unfortunately, there are people in this world that go around sticking their cameras in people’s faces without their consent to “capture the moment”. Only do so if you get consent from the person, so please respect the people around you and the culture.

5 Must-See Travel Destinations for Chinese New Year!

Chinese New Year just around the corner and you still have no plans on where to go? In this post, we will reveal the best travel destinations to visit in Malaysia in Chinese New Year. Without having to stress about where to go!

Johor Bahru- Chingay Parade

In Johor Bahru all ages come together to the 150-year-old temple, Rou Fuo Gu Miao on Jalan Trus. One of the oldest temples there. After coming together, everyone goes around for a 15km parade called the Chingay Parade. In Hokkien, Chingay (Chin Gay) means “real art”. Thousands of people in Johor from all ages line up the streets to watch and participate in this parade. Recently, the parade has grown to become a massive street parade. It contains many dancers, street floats, jugglers, percussionists, lion (as well as dragon) dancers, clown and acrobats, you name it! It starts in the evening and ends after midnight.

Note:During the parade, roads will be closed and traffic will be at a standstill. Public transport will be rerouted and many businesses will close early. So for those who wants to join in on all the fun, we advise you to plan ahead!

Address: Lot 653, Jalan Trus, Bandar Johor Bahru, 80000 Johor Bahru, Johor

Penang- Kek Lok Si Temple

Penang Island is by far one of the best places for you to visit in Malaysia during Chinese New Year. There are many beautiful temples in Georgetown that are crowded with Chinese Malaysians praying for health and prosperity during the new year. One of the most best temples to visit in Penang is the Kek Lok Si Temple. Millions of colourful lamps transform the area at night. Locals and non-locals alike come every night to witness the turning on of these beautiful lights.

Even from a distance, you could see that that this historic temple is transformed into a magical fairyland as devotees attend the annual special lighting ceremony for Chinese New Year. This tradition also contains a spectacular display of fireworks plus a dinner for guests who come.

Address: 1000-L, Tingkat Lembah Ria 1, 11500 Ayer Itam, Pulau Pinang

Kuala Lumpur- Thean Hou Temple

There are lots of things to do in the big city during the holidays, ranging from visiting temples, and all the way to just visiting malls. Fortunately, Chinese New Year is one of the times during the year when the big city is the emptiest.

Being one of the most historic temples in Kuala Lumpur, it means that Thean Hou Temple’s one of the best places to visit during the Chinese New Year. Pretty red lanterns are hung around the temple premises to welcome the new year coming in.

Address: 65, Persiaran Endah, Taman Persiaran Desa, 50460 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur

Malacca- Jonker Street

Malacca’s very own “Chinatown” is the area known as Jonker Street. In Chinese New Year, this area is always bustling with lots of activities, celebrations and bazaars. People regularly go from the morning until late at night. Some even start in the evening until the early morning!

During this time of year, they often have performances on a stage right in the middle of the action. If you do manage to visit Malacca during this time, we advise you to try to get an early seat. Or you can park yourself at one of the nearby stalls and enjoy someMalaysian delicacies whilst watching performances.

Address: Jalan Hang Jebat, 75200 Melaka

Sabah- Prince Philip Park

The Chinese New Year festivities will be merrier and bigger in Sabah. This year, the biggest lighting company in China have decided to hold its first Sabah International Lantern Festival at Prince Philip Park. Over 3,00 lanterns will be featured, showing the iconic animals of Sabah. Dragon and lion dance performances will also be featured!

Address: 88100 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

And that concludes our list of travel destinations for Chinese New Year in Malaysia!

Despite all these places we’ve listed, there’s no place and no travel destination compared to spending your holiday with family and friends. So, wherever you decide and plan to spend your Chinese New Year holiday, we hope that you celebrate it in good company and that you have a prosperous Chinese New Year ahead!

Note: Certain places will be closed during Chinese New Year. This is due to people going home to their home countries or hometowns.
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