This year marks my 8th Spring Festival holiday to celebrate since moving to China in 2015! I honestly couldn’t believe it until I went back and counted up the years. It had me thinking about where I traveled in the last 8 years during Chinese New Year.
Chinese New Year’s is usually the time when people go home for family reunions. For me as an expat working in China, every Spring Festival (Lunar New Year) has looked quite different. Occasionally I’ve celebrated in very traditional Chinese ways with friends, but most of the time I’ve been traveling around Asia or other parts of China. Hint: If you’re thinking to teach abroad in China, traveling during holidays is a huge perk of the job.
I thought I’d take a look back at my Chinese New Year posts and where I’ve been in the last 8 years.
- 2016: Chengdu, Hengyang, Beijing, Thailand
- 2017: Thailand, Cambodia, & Australia
- 2018: Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam
- 2019: Palawan Island, Philippines
- 2020: Chongqing
- 2021: Beijing
- 2022: Performing in China’s Spring Festival Gala
- 2023: Beijing
2016: Chengdu, Hengyang, Beijing, Thailand
I first moved to China in 2015, so my first Spring Festival experience was in 2016 when I was living in Hengyang, Hunan. I traveled with friends to meet up with my Chinese student Ruby in Chengdu, Sichuan, her hometown. She introduced us to the famous Chengdu hot pot, where she encouraged us to try the local rabbit head…that was a new experience! The next day we hiked up Mount Emei in the freezing cold snow, and Ruby explained that we needed to how to fight the giant monkeys there should they attack us. What!?!
We also did a Chinese Sichuan cooking class (highly recommend) and our hostel had a dumpling making party. After Chengdu, I went back to Hengyang for a few days then flew up to Beijing for my first visit to China’s capital city. It’s wild knowing now that I would later be moving to this city 3 years later.
As a university teacher I had 6 weeks off for holiday (wow I miss these days!) and we also flew to Phuket, Thailand to spend a week on the beach.
2017: Thailand, Cambodia, & Australia
For my second Spring Festival holiday, I traveled with friends outside of China for three weeks. I went back to Thailand again, with 5 Days in Chiang Mai, and more time in Phuket exploring islands and the Old Phuket Town.
After Thailand, our group went to Cambodia to see Angkor Wat and a floating village, then carried on for a short layover in Malaysia to get to Australia for 7 days. It was really cool to see how many communities around these different countries celebrate Lunar New Year, some in similar ways to China, but some with their own traditions.
2018: Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam
In 2018 I spent One Night In Singapore on my way to Indonesia to meet up with my friends, Rachel (another one) and Lauren. Bali gets a lot of hype, but for good reason. The beaches, scenery, (and parties) are really great for a holiday.
I then went to Vietnam, where I solo traveled by myself, eating lots of pho and bahn mi and drinking delicious Vietnamese coffee for awhile before Rachel joined me and we celebrated Tết New Year with a Vietnamese Family.
2019: Palawan Island, Philippines
I traveled solo to Palawan Island in the Philippines, where I met up with many different friends over two weeks. I was in Coron, then El Nido and Port Barton.
I spent 3 days in Chongqing and loved it! This was right before the pandemic started in 2020, and after my short trip here I flew right back to Beijing not knowing what was in store for the next three years.
Check out The Best Instagram Spots in Chongqing and my 3 Day Chongqing Itinerary for more about my trip here.
This was the year of the Ox, so everyone would say Happy “Niu” Year (“Niu” is the Chinese word for cow or ox). I stayed inBeijing since pandemic travel was difficult, and went to Homeplate with Nathan for BBQ and then a party at Lenore’s (now closed because of COVID).
2022: Performing in China’s Spring Festival Gala
In 2022 I Performed In China’s Spring Festival Gala! It has the largest audience of any entertainment show in the world and is recognized by Guinness World Records as the world’s most watched television program, with over a billion people watching on Chinese New Year’s Eve.
It was a really unique experience, with several rehearsals leading up to the big day. The performance I was in was right before midnight, so I was able to watch the first half at a friend’s apartment while eating dumplings before I jetted off to the CCTV center where the gala is hosted.
And that leads to this year, where I celebrated with several friends in Beijing. It was fun to have a more traditional Chinese new year party at an apartment. We made dumplings, and Aleese even had hongbaos prepared for us! It was very much in the spirit of what Chinese New Year is all about – spending time with people.
I also have been visiting some popular Beijing places, such as Qianmen Street and Ditan Park.
I feel immensely lucky and grateful to have the opportunity to have traveled to so many places over the last 8 years. One of the perks of living in China is being so close to so many other amazing countries. Although this easy travel was put on pause for awhile because of COVID, now that China has opened the borders after 3 years I’m looking forward to much easier travel around this part of the world again. I’m excited for the upcoming 2023 year and can’t wait to see what it brings!
Where have you traveled during your Chinese New Year holidays? Let me know in the comments!
A chart for myself:
|Year||Chinese New Year Date||Animal||How I Celebrated|
|2016||Feb. 8, 2016||Monkey||Chengdu, Hengyang, Beijing|
|2017||Jan. 28, 2017||Rooster||Thailand, Cambodia, Australia|
|2018||Feb. 16, 2018||Dog||Singapore, Bali, Vietnam|
|2019||Feb. 5, 2019||Pig||Philippines|
|2020||Jan. 25, 2020||Rat||Chongqing (Right before the pandemic started)|
|2021||Feb. 12, 2021||Ox||Beijing|
|2022||Feb. 1, 2022||Tiger||Filming Spring Festival Gala in Beijing|
|2023||Jan. 22, 2023||Rabbit||Beijing|