New Year's eve in China

Dec 7th, 2008, 06:02 AM
  #1  
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New Year's eve in China

We have not yet finalized our itinerary in China (HK, Xian, Shanghai and Beijing seem to be our preferred destinations). Does anyone have an idea of how 31 Dec is celebrated. Which cities would you recommend? My wife and I are a professional couple in our late forties and would typically enjoy a meal, and some dancing on the night. Perhaps watching the city celebrate with fireworks.
vasin is offline  
Dec 7th, 2008, 10:33 AM
  #2  
 
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> Does anyone have an idea of how 31 Dec is celebrated

Not much except in the Western-managed hotels. Although Jan 1st is a public holiday, the 'new year' from a traditional Chinese point of view is later in January (this year, or early Feb other years--it's lunar).

There may be a little more activity in Hong Kong, less in Xi'an than in Beijing or Shanghai, but really this date is no big deal in China. You'll need to look in the foreign-run hotels or expat-owned restaurants outside the big hotels in Beijing and Shanghai. M on the Bund in Shanghai might be a good choice.

Peter N-H
PeterN_H is offline  
Dec 8th, 2008, 03:45 AM
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In years past, the Xintiandi area of Shanghai, a restored shophouse area of restaurants, bars and shops, has had fireworks on December 31, you would have to check that they are doing so again this year. (Your hotel should be able to confirm). They get crowds rivaling those in NYC Times Square so if you go, be prepared. Celebrations in various part of Nanjing Road are also quite large, but I donít believe they have fireworks anywhere along there. Hong Kong is having fireworks on December 31 this year, as they did last year.

I think in Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong you would find many options, although you may be a bit late for booking tables at some restaurants, IMO. Also, without a budget range for a restaurant, it is hard to give reccos. Certainly at hotels you would find celebrations on offer, see for example what is on offer at Asian-based chains like Shangri-La hotels, the Peninsula Beijing or go out to the Summer Palace and celebrate at the Aman Beijing. The Shangri-La Beijing has a lucky draw included in their Shang Palace dinner, so you can be fairly confident that they are aiming at a local audience Ö.Larger restaurants or those listed in guidebooks (see the Fodors reccos above) may also have set meals on offer, some place like the Red Capital Club (http://www.redcapitalclub.com.cn/event.html) may be worth looking into. I think the M on the Bund recco above is very good in terms of food (http://www.m-onthebund.com); although it is unlikely to offer dancing (although you could try the bar), and I would be concerned about being able to get a booking at this point; there are several other restaurants in that building that might work as well. Also a place like Jade on 36 which also has a bar may work, see the Shangri-La Shanghai hotel website. Even without fireworks, I think that the Xiantiandi area will be quite lively at midnight and may be a good choice as well for dinner in that area before hand. I always like the Grand Hyatt for views, there is also a new Hyatt along the river which you may want to look into.

For Beijing or Shanghai, you would want to look into where your hotel is versus where you are staying, and figure out transport options for your trip home, as I imagine that cabs are going to be quite hard to come by, and I am not sure what time the subway and buses stop running in either. Your hotel may be able to advise. Being able to walk would be ideal assuming you have shoes and outwear appropriate for that.

Hong Kong, having been a British colony for a long time, does have celebrations on quite a large scale, plus there is a large expat population (the largest, of course, being the Filipina maids, at 150,000 or so but they like a good party too). The fireworks are shot off from barges in the centre of the harbour, and if you want to have a good view, then a hotel room or a restaurant with a harbour view is a must, as crowds at the waterfront are generally quite heavy. (Last year it was also actually cold, for us, at about 48 F on Dec 31, another reason to be indoors if you can. Beijing and Shanghai of course will be much colder). If you can find a post I have done called ďCiceroneís (Updated) Favourite Hong Kong Restaurants (Part I)Ē you will see a list of restaurants with harbour views. While there are many restaurants with views, if you want views of the fireworks AND dancing, then IMO you are going to need to go with Felix on top of the Peninsula hotel. No hotel ballrooms have views as far as I am aware, although the Intercontinental and the Penn may make arrangements for their ballroom or non-view restaurant guests to get out to see the fireworks. The Grand Hyatt may do the same, and may be a place to consider (normally I do not like this hotelís location). You might also try the new Verandah restaurant at the Penn, this does not have views, but I believe will have dancing, and at midnight they may arrange to take guests up to the pool deck to see fireworks, or you could step out onto the driveway and look up over the Cultural Centre, views should be pretty OK. It is possible that some of the restaurants at One Peking Road may be offering dancing, they certainly have fine views, see the www.aqua.com.hk website. I am just not sanguine about your getting a booking at these places.

I think that hotels and most every restaurant which will be open, other than very casual local storefront places, will be offering a set meal at somewhat inflated prices. I am sad to say that even with the economy flagging, that if you donít have a booking at most of them I donít hold out big hopes that at the better ones you would be able to get a booking at this late date.

There is an area of Central on Hong Kong Island called Lan Kwai Fong, which is one of the main bar and restaurant areas, especially for expatriates and professional locals. You may want to avoid this area, as you may find it too much of a frat party atmosphere, plus it is located on some very narrow and steep streets and can become claustrophobic. Further up the hill in Soho are Staunton and Elgin Streets, with Old Bailey and Peel Streets intersecting at points, this is another large area of restaurants and some bars, this may be a little bit quieter (but not a whole lot) and may be a marginally better choice. Both have restaurants and bars open to the street and it is quite a carnival atmosphere. The Star Street area of Wan Chai has several good restaurants and may be a slightly saner choice in terms of crowd level, and with some walking and maneuvering, you may get some views by heading over to the Pacific Place Mall area and Hong Kong Park to see fireworks, or heading to the harbour which is a few blocks from there, but that may be quite crowded. If you walk uphill behind Star Street to Kennedy Road, you can also have views, but it is a little climb.

Salisbury Road in Kowloon, which fronts the harbour will most likely be closed to traffic starting in the afternoon in preparation for fireworks and can be fun for a stroll, although it can start to get quite crowded 2-3 hours before the fireworks.

As with every other city, cabs will be very hard to get after midnight on New Years Eve, so if you can go someplace which is walkable from your hotel, so much the better. The subway and buses stop running at about 1 am, the Star Ferry at 11:30 pm. The Peak Tram stops at midnight as well. Hours may be slightly extended for New Yearsí but not by much, maybe until 2 am for the subway and buses.

Provided it is relatively clear, which it should be in December as we have no rain, views from the Peak of the fireworks are actually quite good, they are elevated and rather interesting, IMO. A slightly better vantage point may be to walk downhill to Barker Road for the actual firework viewing, as just that bit drop in elevation would bring the fireworks that much closer. (I live quite close to Barker Road and firework views from our communal garden are spectacular I have to say.) If you decide to do this, let me know and I will post precise walking directions, it is quite easy and would take only a few minutes to get downhill. (High heels may not be that much fun.) I think the only place to offer dancing there would be the Café Deco, views are somewhat better than the food on offer but if the Peak Lookout has a band, that would be a contender, although no views. Pearl on the Peak would be good for food and views, not sure they are offering dancing but it may be worth checking. If you choose the Peak for midnight, I would strongly recco pre-booking a cab early in the afternoon of December 31 for the return trip. (You call 2861-1011 and will pay HK$15 extra for booking more than 1 hour in advance.) You can also take the #15 bus or #1 green min-bus, but they will stop running around 1 am, you would need to check the exact time at the bus station or at the Hong Kong Transport Department website at http://www.td.gov.hk/home/index.htm.

Some links for hotels in PRC:

Peninsula Beijing at http://www.peninsula.com/Beijing/en/...estive_Dining/

Shangri La China World Beijing at http://www.shangri-la.com/en/propert...naworld/dining (and see http://www.shangri-la.com/en
for Shangri La generally in the PRC and Hong Kong.

Cicerone is offline  
Dec 8th, 2008, 11:18 AM
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Again, Cicerone, there is no large scale fireworks shooting from barges in the harbor on New Year's Eve. Last year, there was some fireworks and a large lightshow at the ifc2 for the countdown, and they will have it again this year. But it was not like the fireworks from the barges on 2nd day of Chinese New Year or 7/1.

The restaurants you recommennd do have a good view of the ifc2 building. Which is what the display will be centered on.

And prior to last year, there was no large scale display of any type in Hong Kong for New Year's Eve. Expats like to go to Lan Kwai Fong, locals like to hang out at Times Square in Causeway Bay, and there are also some smaller-scale countdown shows at various part of the city, like outside City Hall/Queen's Pier when it was still there.
rkkwan is offline  
Dec 8th, 2008, 05:50 PM
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Sorry, yes I forgot that the New Years fireworks are from a different place than the fireworks which occur on Chinese New Year and July 1. But views will be about the same. I saw them from my house last year and they were good from that angle, would be quite good from Barker Road too, which has very good IFC views. Views from most restaurants I mentioned would be fine, the driveway of the Penn may be a bit too low for IFC, although Felix would be good. A harbour view room at the Four Seasons would work very well indeed of course....

That does remind me that the restaurants on the 4th floor of the Harbour City may offer good views. Still will have dancing issues.
Restaurants in the Marco Polo hotel will alos have a good view, which for other firework days they may not. Again, not sure about the dancing, you would have to check.
Cicerone is offline  
Dec 8th, 2008, 06:05 PM
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Just realized I also made a mistake. Big fireworks are on 10/1 and 2nd day of CNY. Not 7/1.
rkkwan is offline  
Dec 8th, 2008, 06:12 PM
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hi, Xian is supposed to be the must-go place if you want to enjoy the typical chinese festival as this is a city with three thousand years chinese civilization where you can get close to the traditional local folks arts from the far distance. Maybe the details at http://www.china-tour.cn/Insight-Guide-China/index.htm will be more informative.
Corona is offline  
Dec 9th, 2008, 08:01 AM
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> Maybe the details at http://www.china-tour.cn/Insight-Guide-China/index.htm will be more informative.

Or maybe this is more of the tour guide/tour company spam increasingly common on these pages despite being in breach of guidelines prohibiting advertising, and actually irrelevant to anything except lining the guide's/company's pockets?
PeterN_H is offline  

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