How To Spend Chinese New Year 2021 In Hong Kong
International travel is still on hold, but there's still plenty to do in the city. It may be time to finally book (or re-book) that much-needed staycation, savour a delicious meal with your friends and family at home, visit one of Hong Kong's traditional villages to learn more about our city's past, or even see the many Chinese New Year displays.
Whether it's a relaxing celebration or a family reunion, we're breaking down how you can spend your Chinese New Year holiday in Hong Kong.
1/10 Venture into the great outdoors
Many describe Hong Kong as a concrete jungle and you'll most likely conjure images of the skyscrapers across Hong Kong. But our beloved city is actually home to a number of places to enjoy the great outdoors, especially when it comes to hiking. From scenic hiking trails near country clubs, heritage hiking trails to trails on the outlying islands. Whether you're a beginner or an expert hiker, there's bound to be something here for you. You can also bring your furry friend along to some of the most dog-friendly hikes.
If you've already gotten your fair share of hiking, why not go forest bathing instead? Its holistic therapeutic effects on our mind, body and spirit are definitely things we need right now. Or if you just want to enjoy some greenery close to the city centre, there are plenty of green spaces to just lounge around and enjoy a day out in the sun.
See also: 6 Lesser-Known Hikes To Try In Hong Kong
2/10 Explore a new neighbourhood
Think you've seen all of Hong Kong? Think again. Now's the perfect time to discover new neighbourhoods or revisit old ones.
From up-and-coming Tsuen Wan, the bustling neighbourhood of Whampoa, the quaint area of Tai Hang, to Tung Chung and Tseung Kwan O—there's plenty to choose from. Who knows, one of them might be your new favourite hangout spot?
See also: The Tatler Guide To Hong Kong's Neighbourhoods
3/10 Treat yourself to a staycation
We're all bummed out that international travel is still off the cards but looking at the bright side, we can try to enjoy a different kind of vacation. A number of Hong Kong's hotels are offering stellar staycation packages, luring the hearts of food lovers, pet owners, and those looking for a unique stay.
With Chinese New Year and Valentine's Day coinciding this year, many staycation packages are combining the two occasions. Whether you're looking for great dining offers, impeccable services or just something to celebrate with loved ones, you're spoiled for choice in Hong Kong.
See also: The Best Hong Kong Staycations To Book For Chinese New Year And Valentine’s Day 2021
4/10 See one of the many Chinese New Year displays
To get into the holiday spirit and take in all the festive vibe, while still social distancing, one of the best things to do whether it's with friends or family, is to see all the Chinese New Year displays and decorations splattered across many of Hong Kong's shopping malls.
Each design and theme is different, some bringing you whimsical lanterns, environmental-friendly decorations to others bringing you a taste of Japan or championing traditional craftsmanship. These displays and decorations are bound to add a festive flair to your celebrations and to your Instagram feed.
See also: The Best Chinese New Year Displays To See In Hong Kong, 2021
5/10 Enjoy delicious afternoon tea
With dinner off the table, why not treat yourself to afternoon tea instead? In celebration of the Year of the Ox, Hong Kong's best hotels and restaurants are bringing in new flavours to its menu.
Featuring finger-licking savoury bites, warm scones with homemade jam and mouth-wearing desserts, there are so many afternoon tea sets to indulge in that are also highly Instagrammable. Good news for vegetarian, vegan and even gluten-free eaters, there are also options available for you.
See also: Chinese New Year 2021: 16 New Afternoon Teas To Try In Hong Kong
6/10 Celebrate at home
With social distancing measures in place, restaurants can only allow two people per dining table, which is good news for couples but perhaps not so much for families. And given that Chinese New Year is a time of celebration and family reunions, the safest option we can have to celebrate is at home, with health protocols in place. The good thing about celebrating at home though is that we can bring a bit of everything to the table—Chinese New Year puddings, candies, poon choi and even hot pot—all while talking about Chinese New Year stories and legends.
A number of restaurants are also offering special Chinese New Year takeaway options for you and your loved ones to enjoy. Don't forget to add in some Chinese New Year flowers for extra luck and festive atmosphere. If you want to make a fashion statement, you can even put on your best cheongsams or qipao. Also, don't forget to bring in your best red packets and face masks.
See also: Chinese New Year 2021: The Best Dining Out And Delivery Options In Hong Kong
7/10 Island hopping
Chinese New Year may be a time of celebration and family reunions, but it's also a time to take that much-needed break, especially given the year we've had. If you want to escape the frenzy of city life, Hong Kong's outlying islands are still well worth a visit. Notable options included Lamma Island and Cheung Chau, but if you've already ventured there, you can still discover some of Hong Kong's secret islands.
The picturesque and charming island of Peng Chau is one of the more developed options, but others such as the abandoned Hakka village in Yim Tin Tsai and the snorkelling parasite of Sharp Island deserve a place in your Chinese New Year itinerary. These islands are also great places for photo-taking, sunrise hopping and outdoor sports.
See also: 10 Secret Islands To Visit In Hong Kong
8/10 Discover Hong Kong's traditional villages
Take a trip down memory lane this Chinese New Year and pay a visit to some of Hong Kong's historical communities—our traditional villages. Many of them have seen a massive decline over the centuries, partly due to urbanisation especially for a bustling metropolis like ours. But the good news is that some of them still stand today and are just waiting to be discovered, visited and explored, especially before they disappear completely.
These traditional villages served as the ancestral homes of various clans including the earliest settlers of Hong Kong and are just teeming with cultural and historical significance. Kat Hing Wai, the most well-known among the bunch, was built during the Ming Dynasty, Kuk Po might be deserted now but it was once the home of the Cheung, Sung, Lee, Ho, Tsang, Cheng, Ng and Yeung clans and Yim Tin Tsai which is home UNESCO-recognised structure, St. Joseph's Chapel.
See also: 6 Hidden Traditional Villages To Visit In Hong Kong
9/10 Netflix marathon
It may sound like the most mundane and basic thing you can do to spend Chinese New Year but we can't deny the fact that Netflix has provided some of our comforts and escape during these challenging times and still continues to do so. And with stellar hits like coming-of-age chess drama, The Queen's Gambit, Regency-era romance Bridgerton and French sleeper-hit Lupin, we can surely spend a day or two of our holidays to do another round of Netflix marathon.
We're in luck this year as Netflix will be releasing at least one new movie every week, but we're also spoiled for choice when it comes to TV shows. Still hung up on Crash Landing on You? There's an array of other Korean dramas to watch, or if you've enjoyed Alice in Borderland, you can try to check out other Japanese dramas. Want some reality TV? Bling Empire is a sure hit, from its hairstyles, fashion and jewellery down to its cast members. Crime shows and comedies are all also available for your viewing.
Looking for something more festive? There are Cantonese movies that are great for Chinese New Year or romantic titles for Valentine's Day too.
See also: Best Cantonese Movies to Watch on Netflix for Chinese New Year
10/10 Celebrations turn virtual
No travel? No problem. The pandemic has definitely changed the way we hold celebrations whether it be festivals, holidays or birthdays and Chinese New Year is no different. With travel on hold, reunions with family and friends from across the globe have been put to a stop. With that, we also can't go overseas to explore a new place and meet new people. Companies and institutions have become a bit more tech-savvy, moving celebrations and events online—from Zoom birthdays to virtual experiences.
Museums have created virtual tours while companies like Airbnb have curated online experiences. For Chinese New Year, they also launched three categories to experience how people from all over the world celebrate their holidays, whether it's in sushi making in Japan, Morocco home cooking or paella experience in Spain. Similarly, the Korean Cultural Center in Hong Kong has put together a set of online and on-site Seollal (Korean lunar new year) activities such as a cooking contest and handwriting challenge.
See also: Watch Lulu Wang's Chinese New Year Short Film 'Nian'