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.
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.
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.