Where to spend Chinese New Year on Koh Samui ?

The island in Chinese time

This year, the Chinese New Year takes place on January 28, 2017. In Koh Samui, this event is one of the most important and popular celebrations of the island, as in all the countries of Asia. During this period, the island is adorned with red and gold, emblematic colors of China (Red refers to the “red sun”, source of life, vitality, happiness, heat.) It is the color of the prayers, celebrations and respect. Yellow represents glory, wisdom, harmony, happiness, culture). Each year, the festivities gather a multitude of people of all origins and religions in a spirit of festivity and communion in the main districts where the Chinese temples of Koh Samui are situated (Maenam, Nathon, Hua Thanong). Chaweng, Bophut and Lamai districts celebrate this event by decorating with Chinese and Thai lanterns and inscriptions, their shopping streets, and shops and supermarkets (“Central Festival Samui”, “The Warf Samui” “,” Bic C “) do the same, in the hope of attracting the many Chinese customers, who are eager shoppers.

In the archipelago, the Sino-Thai community is quite extensive (like Thailand, where 14% of its population is of Chinese origin), and it remains very present in all sectors of society. Particularly with believers and practitioners, its members celebrate all the traditional Chinese festivals throughout the year, in a religious spirit, while remaining very united. For them, the Chinese New Year is synonymous with family reunion and commemoration, and the opportunity to see all loved ones. As for the inhabitants of Koh Samui, mostly of Buddhist religion (and the Farangs), the Chinese New Year is synonymous with rejoicing. They alike enjoy to participate in all these colorful festivities on the island such as parades, setting off firecrackers, dances, markets, foods and drinks … A friendly and kind way to wish each other , good health, peace and happiness for the coming year.

The Chinese, new tourists

During this period, the island of Koh Samui is (over) populated with Chinese tourists (but also foreigners from all over the world who wish to immerse themselves with this event). The flights to the archipelago are fully booked, as are hotels, resorts and holiday rentals … You should know that in China, the transition to the new year is a great celebration synonymous with holidays. A one-week bridge (from 27 January to 02 February 2017), the most important of the year, during which many Chinese families decided to leave their homeland to fly to neighboring countries. Of course, Thailand (and in particular, the Koh Samui archipelago) remains one of the most popular and preferred destinations for these tourists, due to its quality of life, hotel infrastructure, cheaper lifestyle and rich diversity of food … The Chinese arrive in groups, of up to 10 to 20 people, bringing together whole families. As soon as they arrive, they rush off on excursions, massages (which they are fond of), restaurants, and other outdoor activities, to the delight of local shop owners and craftsmen.

Where to Go?

Hainan Temple Nathon

This colorful architectural jewel was built in 1862 by Chinese people from Hainan Island who live in the Nathon district. The Wat is located in the center of the village. As one moves closer to the enclosure of the monument, one can see the 2 gold lions, proudly guarding the central door. The main building is surrounded by a walled garden, from where the outside noise is practically non-existent. (Get off at “Thaweerat Phakdee Street” (Road “4169”), look for “Soi Angthong.” From there you can see the temple walls.

Why?

Although Nathon is the administrative capital of Koh Samui, it is less touristy than Chaweng or Lamai. As a result, the Chinese New Year festivities are more intimate and certainly more authentic. Throughout the day and evening, you can visit the Hainan Chinese Temple, to pay tribute to the last year and ask for blessings in fulfilling the wishes for the new year. At the same time, free shows are offered on Nathon Pier with traditional dances, firecrackers and a lion and dragon procession, to the sound of drums, cymbals and resounding gongs. A procession of Chinese mythological creatures greet residents and tourists residing in Koh Samui. Many houses and shops in the neighborhood furnish “altars” in front of their entrance, outside, laden with food and talismans (fruits, firecrackers, meat, pork heads …), which is believed to bring luck and good fortune, which will be blessed at the time of the procession. During this period, a walk on fire is organized at Hainan Chinese Temple (where everyone is invited) with a procession of vows and believers in trance: a very popular and impressive event, to witness. Do not forget the “Food Center” of Nathon, open every night, from 5 pm, located near the port.

Where to Go?

Maenam Chinese Temple

This small, but very colorful Chinese temple is well worth a visit. Maenam Chinese Temple is located 50 meters from the Maenam Pier. At the entrance, dragons adorn and protect the temple from evil spirits. Inside, on the left, there is a small table with some old interesting black and white photographs. During the Chinese New Year, Wat is the center of all the festivities (lion dances, drums, acrobats, firecrackers ..).

Location on the Map

Why? 

The Festival begins around 5/6 pm. Everything happens in and around the Maenam Chinese Temple (or Maenam Hainan Wat) with parades and fanfares, acrobat routines, setting off firecrackers, music, dances, lion and dragon processions greet the inhabitants of Koh Samui, enticing tourists to come and participate in this event. You can also buy one or more hairs from the dragon fleece (woolen yarns), in the form of a donation and tie them around your wrist as a token of protection. Also, you can go to the Wat to pay tribute to the past year and ask for blessings in fulfilling the wishes for the new year. A “Beach Party” is organized, while “Walking Street” is in full swing with many food stalls, good cocktails stands and local craftsmen. Attention, the entry to access the temple and participate in rejoicing is free of charge.

Where to Go?

Guan Yu Shrine

Mr Virach Pongchababnapa, a Sino-Thai resident on Koh Samui, had a crazy project to build a bronze statue 16 meters high, worth 20 million baht, which is becoming one of the big hit Koh Samui tourist attractions. The work depicts Guan Yu, a Chinese War Lord living in the second century, during the late Han dynasty. He played a fundamental role in the civil war which led to the demise of the Han dynasty and the establishment of the period of the “Three Kingdoms”, of which Liu Bei was the first emperor. Over the centuries, Guan Yu has changed from being a simple human being to a half-God.

Mr Virach’s mission is to increase the awareness of Chinese heritage Hainan within Koh Samui. The Guan Yu Shrine aims to become the center of the Chinese community on the island. Free Mandarin classes, in particular, will be taught to descendants of Chinese-Hainan, to help children reconnect with their heritage. The walls of the sanctuary are decorated with ancient photos of residents of Koh Samui, from Chinese lineage. Chinese and Sino-Thai mixed families are encouraged to add information about their family tree through communication channels such as writing, video and audio portraits, so that future generations can keep in touch with their ancestors. The future major project includes a building to house a “Chinatown” with restaurants, shops and practitioners of Chinese medicine. The sanctuary will also be used for weddings (cost of the ceremony, 25,000 baht).

Location on the Map

Why? 

Since the opening of this shrine in 2016, several processions will take place in this mythical and grandiose place during the Chinese New Year. Notably, that of Chinese mythological creatures, that come to welcome, thank and congratulate the residents and tourists of Koh Samui. A ceremony will commemorate the statue of Guan Yu, while a religious procession will pay tribute to the Chinese gods, along with the vows of the city. Setting off firecrackers, parades, fanfares, acrobats, fireworks, fire-eaters … are scheduled for the duration of the day, along with all the shops surrounding the Guan Yu Shrine, which will delight you with delicious Chinese and Thai specialties. The shrine is destined to develop (new building projects are under way since last year), and this promises to become one of the most touristic places of the island.

Before the Party …

Some information to know : on the island of Koh Samui, the Chinese New Year festivities tend to spread throughout the day and extend until late into the night. The greater the Chinese community in the area where you are, the more likely the event will be to last longer. As is often the case in the archipelago, everything is left to the last minute, and events that take place throughout the island are often improvised. Also, open your eyes and ears, and ask the locals or “Farangs” for information on the schedules and places of celebrations and festivals on the beaches. You will discover less known Chinese temples,  (among them, Chinese Temple of Guanyin and Wat Phang Ka, located near each other in Taling Ngam or Chang Wat in Chaweng area, on the road of the airport). Generally, commemorations are free or at low cost (especially in Maenam). Although this is not an official holiday in Koh Samui, some Chinese companies will be closed for a day or two, to embrace the event. As always, regarding places of worship, dress appropriately in case you would like to visit the Chinese temples of the island (shoulders and knees need to be covered). Lastly , with January 27 and 28, falling on a Friday and Saturday, there is no doubt that the “Walking Streets” of Bophut (Friday night), Chaweng (Saturday night) and Lamai (Sunday night) will offer a special festive flavor during this transition to the Chinese New Year.

2017: Year of the Fire Rooster

2017 is the year of the Fire Rooster. It’s characterized by honesty and pragmatism, but also by justice. We can expect great advances in the fields of science and medicine, but also in fashion. Indeed, appearance will play an important role, we will pay more attention to our image. The professions of public and private administration, military careers or police trades will be highlighted. Finally, it’s a perfect year for dating.

To know ! During this first day of the Chinese year, do not use sharp objects (including knives, scissors, nail clippers). Do not argue with or criticize anyone. Do not clean your home, cook or work (including laundry and dishes). Do not kill animals or evoke illness and death. Do not wash your hair. Do not break or trip over an object. If you do not comply with one of these recommendations, your chance may turn into a series of misfortunes in the coming year  (according to insiders). You are warned … Finally, to stay in the spirit of this New Year, it’s best to wear red.

Source : Kohlidays

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