The Best Places to Spend New Year’s Eve in Asia
Not every city in Asia sees the same celebrations during the New Year, so in order to avoid watching the countdown on your hotel room TV, here are some of the best places to spend New Year's Eve in Asia.
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Every year the city's iconic landmark, Taipei 101, puts on one of the world's most spectacular firework shows. Visible from almost everywhere around the city, spending New Year's Eve in Taipei is a lively affair and apart from the fireworks themselves you'll find various shows and events held around the city. If you're looking for an energetic, busy atmosphere, the area all around the tower gets crowded and lively for the few hours around midnight. There are numerous bars and restaurants with a view of Taipei 101 that hold countdown and firework watching events but be sure to book well in advance. To get a beautiful view of the fireworks head to the top of Elephant Mountain, however people will start saving spots here hours before midnight so you'll need to get there early. Consider also going further away to Maokong, where you'll be able to view the fireworks from afar.
Outside of Taipei you'll find various cities also holding firework displays, although Taipei 101's is the longest and most spectacular. Probably the most beautiful display however is at Sun Moon Lake in the center of the country. Fireworks are set off on both the north and south side of the lake, viewable from both sides, which are mirrored in the waters creating an incredible effect. However the fireworks are not held every year so be sure to check if it will go ahead in advance before making the trip there.
One of Southeast Asia's most beloved tourist spots, numerous clubs and hotels offer NYE events and parties to countdown in style on the popular Indonesian island. Places such as Seminyak's Beach Bar offer New Year's Eve packages with food, drinks, live music and of course fireworks to top it all off.
With one of the most incredible skylines in the world looking across to the skyscrapers of Hong Kong island, the view provides the perfect backdrop for the city's NYE firework display. The sky is lit up ad midnight with thousands of the colorful projectiles fired from boats sitting in Victoria Harbour. As you might expect, the promenade gets incredibly crowded, so get there early or view them from a bar or viewing party.
Seoul, South Korea
For people in Seoul, it's usually a choice between the traditional and the modern. Firework displays are held at both the Lotte Tower and the COEX Mall in Gangnam, but many of the city's residents choose to watch the countdown at the Bosingak Bell-ringing Ceremony. It lasts for around an hour with various celebrities invited to ring the huge iconic bell to signal the new year. There's no fireworks there but a number of events and performances lead up to the traditional ceremony. After watching the countdown, most Koreans will drive east to the coast to watch the first sunrise of the year. For those without a car, there are numerous tours taking coaches of people out to the coast in time for watching the sunrise.
The Thai capital knows how to welcome the New Year in style, with numerous firework displays taking place throughout the city. One of the most picturesque however has to be watching the Wat Arun temple by the banks of the Chao Phraya River. The temple is a beautiful enough sight in itself which is the perfect setting for a backdrop of colorful fireworks, heightened by the reflection in the waters of the river.
With the iconic Marina Bay Sands in the background, Singapore's waterfront firework display is another of the most spectacular events in Asia. Like most firework extravaganzas the crowds can be a little off-putting, it's best to book a hotel nearby if possible, otherwise it's still worth braving for the spectacular show.
Places Not Really Worth Making the Trip For
Opposite to the western world, the New Year in Japan is spent with family and often quiet celebrations at home whereas Christmas is more of a public affair and a time to spend with friends. Fireworks in the capital of Tokyo are limited to just Disneyland, which as you might expect will be nauseatingly crowded. While you can watch from afar in nearby neighborhoods like Maihama, it's nowhere near as spectacular as being at the park and the atmosphere will be non-existent. Major neighborhoods like Shibuya will see countdown parties but no fireworks and many shops and business will shut for a few days after the New Year.
In China high pollution levels in major cities such as Shanghai have resulted in a fireworks ban, leaving little in terms of celebrations in the city. While people often gather at the Bund for the countdown, it's not particularly impressive and is so crowded it often feels like most of China is there with you. In 2014 a stampede at the Bund resulted in 36 deaths as people were clambering up steps to the viewing platform. While precautions are in place and it's safer now, it's still not really worth risking the crowds for unless you need to be in the city anyway.
While the amount of cities offering firework shows seem to be decreasing year by year, there are still some incredible New Year's Eve celebrations around the continent that are well worth making a special trip just to see.