Taking place this year from Tuesday, 5 February to Thursday, 7 February, we’re scoring ourselves an extra short work week in the not-so-distant future (or you can take just two annual leave days, for a full week off). So, what are you going to do with your well-deserved holiday? Whether you want to plan a getaway just for a few days (and use no annual leave days: win!), or take advantage of the extra time off and book somewhere a little further afield, here’s where we’re looking to travel to…
Always a popular quick trip from Hong Kong, Singapore is a great option to head to over Chinese New Year. With its huge Chinese population, along with the influence of various other cultures, the celebrations in Singapore are a real mix of old and new traditions.
Amongst the festivities, the River Hong Bao Carnival, the Chingay Parade and other events and parades happening in Chinatown are all popular. Aside from enjoying the celebrations, there’s plenty more to do, see and eat in Singapore! From visiting the Singapore Botanical Gardens to eating out at a hawker centre (or a Michelin-starred restaurant!), finding one of the city’s many hidden speakeasies, and checking out the Gardens by the Bay, you’re sure to have a busy few days.
Fly To: Singapore Changi Airport
Flight Time: 4 hours
Best For: A multicultural foodie adventure
Read more: 48 Hours in Singapore: The Ultimate Foodie Guide
Only a three-hour flight away, Bangkok is perfect to explore over a weekend. If you haven’t visited before, start your trip off with a visit to The Grand Palace (it’s best to go early to avoid the crowds!), before heading off for a cruise down the Chao Phraya River. Feeling hungry afterwards? It may be a tourist and backpacker haven, but no trip to Bangkok is complete without a visit to Khao San Road. The ideal spot to pick up some street side Pad Thai.
Another great place to get cheap eats, amongst countless other delights is Chatuchak Weekend Market. Not to be missed, it’s the perfect place to explore on a weekend trip, before cooling off at your hotel pool. As Thailand as a whole won’t be celebrating Chinese New Year, you will find most places unaffected by the festival, and all open as usual, only areas such as Chinatown may be busier than usual, with special events and a large block party happening.
Fly To: Suvarnabhumi Airport (Bangkok Airport)
Flight Time: 3 hours
Best For: Shopping
Sassy Tip: Chatuchak Weekend Market has a huge selection of vintage clothing and unique homeware pieces, so keep your eyes out for one-of-a-kind finds!
Read more: 48 Hours in Bangkok: The Ultimate Foodie Guide
Many may say to steer clear of travelling to Beijing for CNY. But as it’s only a three-hour flight away, with the chance to experience the full cultural festival in all its glory, we say, why not? Restaurants, tourist spots, hotels and airports will all be open and ready for business, though some restaurants might have limited hours over the holiday period. It’s good to keep in mind to book travel plans, hotels, tickets and dinner reservations in advance – just to avoid any disappointment on your trip.
If you’re a lover (or a hater) of fireworks, be prepared for huge firework displays over the weekend, along with many people setting off their own firecrackers on the streets. And while you’re in Beijing, it would be rude not to check out The Great Wall. A little more than an hour car ride from the city, The Great Wall is easily accessible by taxi, and most hotels can book well-priced tours. You can even take a mile-long toboggan ride from the Mutianyu area of the wall to the village at the bottom!
Fly To: Beijing Capital International Airport
Flight Time: 3 hours, 15 minutes
Best For: A true taste of Chinese New Year
Sassy Tip: Don’t forget to sort out your Chinese visa before travelling! A lot of people will also be travelling in and out of Beijing for the holidays, so it’s important to keep this in mind when booking and try to avoid peak days at the beginning and end of the festival to beat the worst of the crowds.
Sitting off the coast of the Malaysian mainland, Penang is an island state located in the northern part of Peninsular Malaysia. The main city on Penang, George Town, is like walking through a living museum and is also a UNESCO heritage site. With street art everywhere you look, along with many well-preserved colonial buildings, temples and colourful architecture.
Similar to Singapore, and like many Malaysian cities, Penang is also famous for its hawker courts, the place to head to for a cheap, authentic and tasty meal. Consistently ranked as one of the best foodie spots in the world, when in Penang, you’ve got to get your hands on some Laksa, Char Kway Teow and other street food delights. Top tip: if there’s a long queue, it means the food is going to be good, so be patient and reap the rewards! Over Chinese New Year, there are also sure to be some celebrations happening around the city, with streets lined with red lanterns, lion dances and more. Tired after a day sightseeing? Make sure to make a trip to Penang’s most popular beach, Batu Ferringhi, for a chilled-out day.
Fly To: Penang International Airport
Flight Time: 3 hours, 45 minutes
Best For: The most Instagrammable street art
A little further afield to travel to, Sydney may not strictly be a “quick flight” away from the 852, but it’s always high on our travel list. And with two bonus days off work, what better excuse is there to explore down under? February is also an ideal time to visit the city, as Summer is still in full swing, with temperatures ranging between 23°C and 26°C.
As home to one of the biggest overseas Chinese populations, Sydney is also sure to ring in the Year of the Pig in style, if you don’t want to miss the festivities completely. Every year many of the iconic landmarks around the city are illuminated red for the festival, and Lunar Lanterns in the shape of the Chinese zodiac signs will be installed around the city. If that’s not your thing, there’s still plenty more to explore in and out of the city. Soak up some rays in beautiful Bondi or Manly Beach, (we love the picturesque Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk), check out iconic landmarks, feast on great food, or head out of the city for a day to visit the Blue Mountains.
Fly To: Sydney Airport
Flight Time: 9 hours
Best For: The best of both worlds: a city break, with a beach!
Sassy Tip: Both Cathay and Qantas fly daily from HK, opt for a night flight that will get you there in time for breakfast to make the most of your time!
Read more: A Local’s Guide to Sydney
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in January 2018 by Annie Simpson, and was updated in January 2019.