Looking for a place to celebrate Chinese New Year outside Bangkok? Phuket, home to one of the largest Thai-Chinese communities, is definitely the best choice! As usual, we prepared for you a guide on what to do and where to celebrate your CNY in Phuket.
The 3 must-do things on the list are visiting the pastel-colored Sino-Portuguese Shophouse in Phuket Old Town, indulging in authentic Dim Sum and Hokkien Noodles, and celebrating Chinese New Year at Chinese shrines.
Visiting Sino-Portuguese Shophouse
Around 100 years ago, Phuket was not a tourist hub like it is today. Having an abundance of natural resources, Phuket attracted many foreigners, including the Western investing in mining and the Chinese working as labor. This was the beginning of Sino-Portuguese shophouses located along different streets in Phuket Old Town.
These colorful Chinese and Portuguese architectural buildings are popular Phuket Old Town landmarks. For the best photo-taking spot, you should visit Soi Romanee, the most photographed street in Phuket. At night, this street will be lit up with red lanterns. So, make sure you do not miss it!
Another important highlight is the old Yellow Clock Tower located at the corner of Phangnga Road. It has been with Phuket city for more than 100 years.
any have been converted to restaurants, cafes, and guesthouses. There are also museums where you can learn more about the history of this place. Since there is a lot to explore here, just take your time walking through each street and enjoy Chinese New Year holiday among the beautiful heritage buildings!
Eating Dim Sum and Hokkien Noodles
Celebrating Chinese New Year can’t be any better without having Chinese food. While Phuket is well-known for many Chinese dishes, what you must not miss are Dim Sum and the signature Hokkien Mee, Hokkien style fried noodles.
For the authentic Phuket-styled dim sum, we recommend you to Boonrat Dim Sum. Among a wide variety of dim sum, the must-try dish is Chinese dumplings (Siew Mai) served with special tamarind sauce. With a highly affordable price and delicious taste, Boonrat is popular among the locals. Since this stall only opens in the morning, you may come here for breakfast.
Dim Sum dishes
Besides, one of the most famous stalls for Hokkien Mee in Phuket is Mee Ton Poe, founded in 1946. Its best-selling dish, Hokkien Mee, comes in a bowl with thick and yellow fried noodles with seafood, chicken, and vegetables on top with a half-cooked egg. You may add seasonings, including dried red chili, vinegar, and sugar, to suit your preference.
On a side note, if you crave some cold dessert to enjoy in the hot weather, try O-Aew (Ai Yu), a shaved ice dessert known as a local specialty of Phuket.
Celebrating at Chinese Shrines
Dragon parades, lion dances, and ear-splitting firecrackers are part and parcel of the Chinese New Year celebration. To find all these, join the local festivals at Chinese Shrines in Phuket, such as Kathu Shrine and Jui Tui Shrine.
Apart from the vibrant procession, these sacred places house statues of Chinese Gods to which both locals and tourists pay high respects. The ancient Kathu Shrine is the first shrine in Phuket to begin the famous vegetarian festival. Inside the shrine, you can worship the wooden holy Budhha images and glorious Guan Yin goddess statue.
People also visit Jui Tui Shrine to pray for good health. “Jui” and “Tui” means water and mortar used for pounding rice, respectively, as in the past, the area in front of the shrine was a canal full of water. The locals, therefore, harnessed the hydropower to separate the wheat from the chaff. Each shrine will also be decorated with bright red lanterns to welcome the new year.
Jui Tui Shrine
Phuket is much more than beaches. Given its long-lasting Chinese traditions and practices, Phuket is one of the best places to celebrate Chinese New Year. Strolling along the cultural streets, eating Phuket Chinese food, and immersing yourself in the festive vibe, you will have an unforgettable celebration!