What Christmas is to the West, Lunar New Year is to the East – it’s perhaps the most important holiday in Asia! Though locals normally take this time off to spend with family, the silver lining is that the cities are still there to be explored by avid travellers and families wanting to take a group trip.
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Chinese New Year (this year Jan 27-29) is by far the most notable Lunar New Year celebration in the world. Being the most populated country in the world, it’s no surprise! Beijing and Shanghai are always popular, but we say change it up and discover some of China’s hidden treasures, like Changsha, the capital of Hunan Province.
This was taken from a suspension bridge hundreds of meters up. My mom and I were hanging our feet off the edge and still couldn't see the valley floor! Naturally weathered freestanding obelisks! Zhangjiajie, Hunan Province, China. 11-1-16. #zhangjiajie #wulingyuan #nationalpark #unescoworldheritage #bucketlist #mommy
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Visitors can take a quick drive to Yuelu Mountain and hike (or take a cable car) to the top and admire the scenic views. Or you can see the age-old ancient relics at the Hunan Provincial Museum, retrace Mao Zedong’s footsteps at his former homes just outside the city or check out the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Wulingyuan, that features soaring quartzite sandstone pillars.
And in the middle of this nature-inspired city is the newly opened Meixi Lake Hotel, part of The Luxury Collection’s family of hotels. Opening its doors just this past fall, the hotel brings the highest level of sophistication and contemporary touches while blending in perfectly with its natural surroundings. After seeing the sights, walk through the doors and be invited by the modern decor and all of the amenities you could ever want – from the indoor heated pool to the relaxing spa. And don’t forget to try the many restaurants on site serving farm-to-table authentic concepts and exquisite fusion dishes.
Although Changsha is known for its breathtaking tourist attractions, who doesn’t love to travel for the food? Delicious local Hunan cuisine (xiang cai) is also something that cannot be missed. Often spicy and full of garlic, Hunan cuisine will make you sweat, but the flavours are phenomenal!
Another option in Changsha is the luxurious St. Regis Changsha boasting amazing views of the Xiang River. This new hotel, which just opened earlier this month, highlights St. Regis’s legendary butler service providing bespoke travelling like no other. The suave interior finishes and unprecedented service and amenities will make any traveller to Changsha bask in opulence with local flair.
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If you’re thinking of visiting Taiwan for Chinese New Year, head north to Beitou. Set closer to the mountainous region of Taipei, Beitou offers travellers a chance to discover Yangmingshan National Park, the capital’s tranquil and natural beauty. Feel the stark difference from the buzzing metropolis, which is just a metro ride away.
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For those looking to relax and re-charge, soothe your muscles with a long soak in the many hot springs and invigorate your senses. Be sure to visit the Thermal Valley, the source of hot spring water in the surrounding streams, public bath houses, and private hotels and spas. There isn’t a better way to relax while being emerged within the beautiful landscapes, while giving your mind, body and soul a well-deserved break.
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If you’re spending a few nights in Beitou (which you should!), stay at the hip and trendy Aloft Taipei Beitou! This stylish hotel welcomes travellers from around the world with its vibrant designs and leading technologies to keep the affluent traveller always connected. After a long day of sight-seeing come back to Aloft’s chic, energetic and social vibes by dining at the casual Nook restaurant and hitting up the bar in the evenings at the W XYZ Bar.
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South Korea also celebrates Lunar New Year, know there as Seollal. With Korea’s popularity booming internationally for its K-dramas, K-pop and K-fashion, Seoul has become a hot destination for travellers. During the Lunar New Year celebrations try the specially prepared dishes that are only served during this time of year. You’ll also enjoy and experience a less-crowded Seoul making it even easier to enjoy the city as many residents head home to neighbouring areas.
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Right in the middle of all the action in one of Seoul’s major shopping districts is the Aloft Seoul Myeongdong, opening on February 1. The hotel’s young and lively character is a perfect reflection of its location in Seoul with upscale shopping, markets and amazing eateries just steps away. It’s the perfect place for millennials travelling with friends who want a fun and contemporary place to stay without breaking the bank!
If you were planning to stay home for Lunar New Year, think again and try something new! Whether spending time with family or friends, these cities offer unique experiences and something for everyone!
We’re your fellow adventure-seekers, foodies and trendsetters who have been bitten by the travel bug. From the first time we set foot on Thailand’s beaches and partied till dawn in Hong Kong, we decided to dedicate ourselves to searching and sharing the best travel ideas across Asia. We enjoy a good conversation and love it even more when it’s about a hole-in-the-wall food joint you stumbled upon during your last trip. So reach out and let’s chat!