Chinese New Year in Hong Kong

Aug 28th, 2006, 07:37 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 66
Chinese New Year in Hong Kong

Hi
I just realized I have booked my trip to BKK and Hong Kong around the Chinese New Year.
In 2007 the NewYear is going to be on Feb. 18th, I believe. I will be in Hong Kong from the 17th to the 20th. Is there anything I should be aware of? Do most restaurants open, how long in advance should I make reservations if they do? Do markets and malls open?
I wanted to go to the markets in Kowloon, is that going to be possible? What about mayor attractions?


Gabrielle26 is offline  
Aug 28th, 2006, 07:54 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
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Things not to be missed:

- Night flower markets. It ends on the night of the 17th, so you have to go the night you arrive. The largest is at Victoria Park in Causeway Bay on HK Island. Opens till very very late.

- Large fireworks display on the night of the 19th over Victoria Harbour. Best place to watch is from the promenade in Tsimshatsui, but it's going to be crowded.

Some Chinese restaurants will be closed on the 18th, and they gradually reopens over the next few days. Restaurants at the hotels (both Chinese and Western food) will be open. It's a quiet time of the year, so you don't really need reservations except for the top places.

Can't remember if the Ladies's market and the Temple Street night markets in Kowloon will be open on 18th or 19th. They may be, but it'll still be quiet.
rkkwan is offline  
Aug 29th, 2006, 03:17 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
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Chinese New Year is a great time to be in Hong Kong. You will find some shops and some restaurants closed, but you can usually work around this, and there are lots of other things to do, including many good walks and people-watching. It is generally cooler temps and can be a little bit overcast, take a look at weatherbase.com for temps. A shawl or sweater is usually good to have.

Just to clarify a bit, the first day of the New Year is February 18 2007. However, the holiday is officially celebrated over 3 public holidays. (It actually runs for about 2 weeks, but only 3 days are public holidays.) In 2007 this is complicated a bit because the first day of the New Year is a Sunday (which is not normally a workday), so Hong Kong is giving an "extra" public holiday. So, the public holidays for Chinese New Year run from Saturday February 17 through Tuesday February 20. That means banks and government offices are closed for those 4 days, as are schools, private offices, and many shops and restaurants as well, other than hotel restaurants. The star ferry and public transportation will be running on holiday schedules, as will museums, check websites or a guidebook. Most everything, including supermarkets, will be closed on the 18th as that is the first day of the new year. (It's like Christmas Day, its kind of fun to walk around downtown Central, as it's like a ghost town.) After that, malls tend to be open as do supermarkets and larger stores. Smaller family business tend to stay closed. Restaurants will be hit or miss, I don't think a lot will be closed on the 17th, and many will be open on the 19th and 20th, but smaller restaurants may not. However, there are so many restaurants to choose from, including so many excellent restaurants in hotels, that I don't think you will even notice.

More than 40% of Hong Kong is actually parkland. There are many good walking paths (flat) and more challenging hiking on both Hong Kong Island and outlying islands, all reachable by public transport. You could do this on the 18th or 19th as these are open all the time and buses will be running, as will taxis. There are many excellent hikes on Hong Kong Island itself, in winter esp the Dragon's Back would be great to go the Shek-O to see the little town, the beach and then get up to see the wonderful views, and there is an easy downhill walk from the Peak to Aberdeen Harbour where you could have lunch at the Top Deck at the Jumbo (http://www.peakcafe.com/TOP_DECK/v_top_deck.asp. You could hire a little boat to take you around Aberdeen harbour afterwards). Some places to look for ideas for walks would be http://www.hkcrystal.com/hiking/index.asp and http://parks.afcd.gov.hk/newparks/eng/hiking/index.. There are many good guidebooks to walking in Hong Kong which you can find in bookshops. You can also take guided walks, take a look at http://www.walkhongkong.com/pages/940968/index.htm. There is also an amateur group of hikers and you can join walks for free at http://www.hktrampers.com.

You can take a ferry tour of the harbor, these will be running on all days, perhaps not the 18th but check schedules there will be a least the regular ferry service across the harbour every day. The Star Ferry runs several harbour tours, take a look at http://www.starferry.com.hk/new/en/index.asp. The Hong Kong Tourist Association used to have a tour by junk every Thursday, you might find info on their website, take a look at http://www.discoverhongkong.com/eng/index.jsp. December is a good month for seeing the pink dolphins which are native to the waters of Hong Kong, take a look at http://www.hkdolphinwatch.com.

The restaurant group which runs the restaurants at One Peking Road (see below) ahs their own wooden junk which goes out for drinks cruises which are fun. They cost HK$180 and includes a drink and some hors d'ourves, the wooden junk is lovely and goes back and forth and around the harbour. This trip is about an hour and is a good thing to do at sunset to or in the afternoon. Go to www.aqua.com.hk for info, the boat is called the Aqua Luna.

Is there something in particular you are looking for in the markets? I am just so not a fan of the Kowloon "night markets" they are mostly tourist junk IMO. If you want to see interesting local markets, I can give you some suggestions. If you are looking for a particular item or discount outlets, I can give you other suggestions. But the ladies markets and jade market in Kowloon are just not top of my list. If you want to see other tourists buying copy watches then go, if you want to see Hong Kong people bargaining in Cantonese for their live fish for dinner, let me know and I can tell you where to go (subject to New Years closures which are possible.).

As noted above, there is a great flower market in Victoria Park that ends on the night before the first day of the New Year, which means it will end very late on the evening of February 17, I think like 3 or 4 am. It is interesting to walk around and see all the various flowers, esp orange trees for sale, and the auspicious or lucky flowers as well. The Causeway Bay area is just jammed packed with people and is interesting to walk around, this might be a good spot to head to in the late afternoon on your first day and stay for dinner, there are some good restaurants, one with a very nice harbour view is Talk of the Town (ToTT’s Asian Bar & Grill, in the Excelsior Hotel, go to http://www.mandarinoriental.com/hotel/517000040.asp), there is also the most expensive Opia or Y's restaurant in the very cool Jia Hotel go to (http://www.jiahongkong.com/), there are also less expense local restaurants as well, including some good Japanese restaurants, let me know if you want reccos.

There is usually a parade on the 3rd day along the waterfront in Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon, check with your hotel.

As the days you are there will be public holidays you may find things like the Peak Tram quite crowded. If you go on the evening of the 17th you should find it relatively uncrowded, as this is the night most everyone who celebrates is at home having their family reunion dinner. You may also find it uncrowded on the evening of the 18th as well for the same reason. Otherwise, if you can go very early in the morning you may avoid lines, or go around 5:30 or 6 pm (I think dusk is best anyway) before everyone goes up to see it at night. Or take the #15 bus up or back if the lines for the tram are very long.

I would avoid traveling to Guangzhou for a day trip on those days and many hundreds of thousands of people will be visiting relatives then.

The fireworks are generally held on the second night (i.e. February 19) but I would want to confirm this as we get closer to the New Year. They start around 9 pm and run for about 30 minutes. There are many good places to see these from, including:

1. Habour view hotel rooms in the YMCA Salisbury Road, the Peninsula Hotel, the Intercontinental Hotel, the Sheraton, the Ritz-Carlton, the JW Marriott, the Conrad, the Island Shangri-La, the Mandarin Oriental. The Grand Hyatt and the Renaissance Harbor View would probably work too, although I think the Renaissance rooms may just be out of prime viewing range, and a corner room looking west at the Grand Hyatt would really be best if you are at the Hyatt. (IMO the Four Seasons would be a little out of range as is the Shangri-La on the Kowloon side.) There are club rooms in many of these hotels which would most likely also have clear views if you don't have a harbour view room. The pool deck of the Penn or the Intercon would also work very well.

2. The following restaurants/bars: Felix (Peninsula Hotel), Spoon, Nobu or Harbourside
(Intercontinental Hotel), any of the restaurants or bars at 1 Peking Road (go to www.aqua.com.hk), Petrus in the Island Shangri-La, Maxim's Palace City Hall Chinese Restaurant (window table really necessary, go to http://www.lcsd.gov.hk/CE/CulturalSe...taurants1.html)
the M Bar and the new restaurant which will be on the top floor of the Mandarin Hotel (opening in October), the lobby restaurant/bar of the Marriott hotel (some views may be a little obscured). I know there are several restaurants and bars in the Sheraton which may also work, I just have never eaten or been in any of them so can't say. The Square Restaurant in Exchange Place if you have a window table. One Harbour Road or the Grand Cafe in the Grand Hyatt might work too (specify window table). IMO it would not hurt to make a reservation by November at any of these places for the 19th. You can always cancel if you decide to go elsewhere.

IMO the best place to see them, unless you want to spend a lot of money at Felix or Nobu or Spoon (which is fine and certainly worth it as they are excellent) would be from the Quarterdeck Restaurant on the Hong Kong Island side, sitting at one of their outdoor tables right on the water. This is one of about 3-4 restaurants in Hong Kong which have outdoor tables and harbour views and they have the very best for the fireworks, IMO. Getting to the restaurant could be a little bit of a palaver as the street here will be quite crowded with people lining up to see the fireworks, but would be really really worth it IMO. If you have a 7:30 reservation, the streets should not be too bad getting there at that time. Even if you can't get an outside table, you can step outside for the fireworks, so even inside would be fine. Good food as well, moderate prices, great deserts.

Quarterdeck Restaurant
Fleet Arcade
Fenwick Pier
1 Lung King Street
Wanchai, Hong Kong
Tel 2827 8882

They don't have a website that I know of. The restaurant is basically in front of the Pacific Place mall/Admiralty Mall, the MTR stop is Admiralty and then you take a series of foot bridges. A little confusing, a taxi is easiest, but on the 19th the street in front of the restaurant may be closed so you may have to walk. This is very easily walk able from the Grand Hyatt/Renaissance hotels or the JW Marriott, Conrad, Island Shangri-La hotels. They also have an outlet on the Kowloon side, but views would not be as good from that angle IMO. If you want to stay on the Kowloon side for the fireworks, try Habitu the Pier in the Harbour City Mall right at the Star Ferry pier (go to http://www.harbourcity.com.hk/hc/en/...ood/98918.html) Habitu the Pier is a great place for lunch or dinner otherwise.

3. Bowen Road : a pedestrian-only road in mid-levels where there are several open sections which will give you a clear harbor view. There will be some people here, but not anywhere near the crowds at the waterfront. As long as you can see at least part of the Hong Kong Arts Centre on the other side (pink boat-shaped building), you will be able to see the fireworks. You can take a cab up to this area from the Star Ferry or Central area, takes about 5 minutes and would cost about HK$20. Have the cab drop you at the start of Bowen Road where it intersect with Magazine Gap Road (or ask him to take you to the Fairlane Tower Apartments, at 2B Bowen Road, a few blocks in.) Keeping the harbour on your left, walk along Bowen Road until you get past apartments and into more of a unpopulated area and can a clear view of the harbour.

I would not recommend watching the fireworks from the street level on the Tsim Sha Tsui, as you will be trying to see them over the heads of huge crowds, and getting to and from the waterfront via public transport like the Star Ferry or the MTR is going to be quite a zoo. It's kind of like New Years Eve in Times Square NYC without the drunks. I would pay for dinner or drinks or go up to Bowen Road (which is also going to be crowded not doubt but better than the waterfront). The Peak is too high to see the fireworks well.



Cicerone is offline  
Aug 29th, 2006, 08:54 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 178
Cicerone: As always not only great information but all the details that goes with it. I won't be there for Chinese New Years but assume that these lcoations would also apply to the fireworks scheduled for October 1st - National Day?

I like your suggestion for the Quarterdeck Restaurant. Do you really think they would take a reservation for an outside table by the water? There will be four of us for sure, maybe 8 if our HK relatives join us. Would this still be okay or too many people for one of these tables. Maybe we could get 2 beside eeach other. This would guarantee them a nice bill for dinner for that many people.

I have relatives that live at 55 Garden Rd in Mid-Levels and I remember their balcony looked onto the China Bank (?). Would this be okay or too many buildings blocking the view?

Betty
BettyInToronto is offline  
Aug 29th, 2006, 06:51 PM
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I would call the Quarterdeck now for an October 1 booking. The outdoor tables seat 4 and maybe 5 if you put someone at the end, but because of the narrow aisles I don't think they could combine into a large table for 8, so two tables would probably work best; but do ask if they can combine a table, I also think they may have round tables at the ends of the deck which might work for a larger group.

I don't know the exact location of 55 Garden Road, so it is hard to say what is in front of the building these days if you have not been there is some years, the huge Cheung Kong Tower would block some views (not sure when you were last there) in addition to what sounds like partial blockage from the Bank of China Building. If it is only the Bank of China and they are on a pretty high floor, then generally I think the view would be very good. Can you ask your relatives if the view is good or if they would prefer to go someplace like the Quarterdeck? (The Quarterdeck only opened maybe 18 months ago and perhaps they don't know about it. It is in the Fleet Arcade building where the US Navy has a pier and a welcome station for sailors and used to be known for having the only McDonalds in town which served beer, now closed. They should know the building.)

Cicerone is offline  
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