If you have the good fortune to be in Singapore for the start of the Chinese New Year, there are plenty of ways to celebrate, and we've gathered up some of the best.
#1: Visit Chinatown
Chinatown is a must-visit during the Chinese New Year season. The festive street bazaar (Jan. 30) is the best place to soak in the lively atmosphere, with more than 300 stalls hawking Chinese New Year goods, while the Chinese New Year countdown (Jan. 30) is also a must-see event complete with a fireworks display and performances by dance troupes and lion dancers. At night, Eu Tong Sen Street and New Bridge Road are lit up and festooned with stunning decorations in line with the auspicious horse theme (through Feb. 28).
#2: Snack Your Way Through Chinese New Year
People rush to stock up on festive snacks and goodies every year, so expect snaking queues at some of the most renowned establishments around town. An especially popular item is bak kwa—get your hands on some at famous stores such as Kim Hock Guan, Singapore’s first and oldest bak kwa brand, and Lim Chee Guan, which many say are the best in town. Otherwise, head to one of the 30 Bee Cheng Hiang outlets, which offers different versions of bak kwa in chicken and beef.
Traditional Chinese pastries are a must-have in any home celebrating the festive season. Tong Heng has legions of fans swearing by its delicious pineapple tarts and crumbly egg rolls, but while you’re there, be sure to also pick up a box of their famous diamond-shaped egg tarts. For freshly made nian gao (glutinous rice cakes), Tai Chong Kok is a favorite, so pick them up as early as you can, for they can sell out in a blink. Another hotspot to shop for New Year cakes and pastries is Tai Thong Cake Shop (35 Mosque St., 6223-2905).
Pack in some Chinese tea from Kwong Chen Beverage (22 Sago St., 6223-6927), Pek Sin Choon (36 Mosque St., 6323-3238) or Wang San Yang Tea Merchant to wash down all those festive snacks.
#3: Go for Gold
Gold is thought to be particularly auspicious during Chinese New Year. Shop for gold accessories from heritage brands like On Cheong Jewellery and Poh Seng Jewellers, known for their timeless and well-made jewelry.
#4: Celebrate at River Hongbao (Jan. 29-Feb. 8)
Welcome the Year of the Horse at Marina Bay as the promenade turns into a carnivalesque spring festival with larger-than-life lantern displays, intricate handicrafts and traditional delicacies from Singapore and China. Visitors will also be entertained by a myriad of amusement rides, games and nightly performances by performers all across Asia.
#5: Visit Temples for New Year Blessings
Locals give their thanks to the gods at Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple during Chinese New Year. Tradition has it that the first person who places joss sticks (which can be bought at the temple) on the urns on the first day will be blessed throughout the year—an activity in which visitors can partake as well.
#6: Toss Yu Sheng for Prosperity
If you want to savor a plate of authentic, old-fashioned yu sheng, head to Lai Wah Restaurant, the first in Singapore to serve the dish during Chinese New Year in 1964. Another place not to be missed is Spring Court, one of Singapore’s oldest Chinese restaurants, which serves traditional fare like roasted, deboned suckling pig and steamed chicken with mashed ginger to complete your reunion meal.
#7: See the Zodiac at the Zoo
Join in the Chinese New Year festivities as Singapore Zoo, Night Safari and River Safari present a variety of fun-filled activities. To commemorate the Year of the Horse, there will also be special exhibits where visitors can learn all about horses.
#8: Watch the Chingay Parade (Feb. 7-8)
For more than 40 years, Singapore has marked Chinese New Year with this massive annual festival of floats, featuring a visual spectacle of live local and international performances and fireworks over two unforgettable days. Be dazzled by this colorful, multi-cultural street parade full of exciting acts, exquisite costumes and grand float displays.
#9: Learn About Chinese Culture
Enjoy Chinese culture in its diverse styles and forms through Esplanade’s signature Chinese New Year series, Huayi - Chinese Festival of Arts, which showcases works ranging from traditional to contemporary and mainstream to cutting-edge, embracing individualism and diversity in artistic expression. Look out for both ticketed and free programs featuring art forms like theater, dance, visual arts, music and more.
#10: Wind Down With Herbal Remedies
If you need any restoratives after all that eating, shopping and reveling in the festivities, stop by Eu Yan Sang and pick up herbal remedies. Aching muscles, meanwhile, will benefit from Chop Wah On’s range of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) products.
SLIDESHOW: Celebrating the Chinese New Year in Singapore