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Celebrating ‘Year of the Ram’ in Thailand

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Experience unique Chinese New Year celebrations in Thailand.

dragon dancer at Chinese New Year in Bangkok Thailand

dragon dancer at Chinese New Year in Bangkok Thailand

It’s that time again when Chinese all over the world come together in marking the Chinese New Year (or Spring Festival) wherever they are. In countries like Thailand, which has a substantial population of people of Chinese descent, the celebration has become a much-awaited one.

There have been Chinese in Bangkok for hundreds of years before even it was made the national capital. Most were moved to the current Chinatown (Yaowarat) in 1782 to make way for the current Grand Palace Complex. But wherever they are, these people do not fail to observe their unique celebrations. The Bangkok’s Chinese New Year, in fact, has become of the most festive, memorable observances of the event.

The Chinese New Year is based on the ancient Chinese Lunar Calendar, which started in 2,698 BC, pre-dating the modern calendar (developed in 1500s) by thousands of years. Each year of the Chinese calendar is tied to an animal and so we call them “Year of the Horse” – like last year — or “Year of the Monkey.” It’s said that the animal years started around 500 BC when Buddha asked all the animals to meet him on Chinese New Year. Twelve of the animals showed up and Buddha named a year after each one. Since then the animal years have rotated each year in 12-year cycles and it’s said you gain difference fortunes depending on which year or sign you are born under.

lighting candles and incense for good luck during Chinese New Year at Wat Mangkon Kamalawat in Bangkok's Chinatown

lighting candles and incense for good luck during Chinese New Year at Wat Mangkon Kamalawat in Bangkok’s Chinatown

This year, is the “Year of The Goat –or Ram– depending on who is saying it), officially starts on Feb. 19. The Chinese New Year’s celebration has three different purposes: to celebrate the year you are leaving, to gather with family, and to ring in good luck for the upcoming year.

The biggest celebrations will be at Yaowarat, Bangkok –the heart of the Chinese community in Thailand—but expect great fanfare as well in other provinces with big Chinese communities such as Nakhon Sawan. Many hotels and restaurants in the country mark the event by holding special activities and food promotions, to lure not only the local Chinese community but also foreigners who want to experience the unique celebrations during the Chinese New Year festivities.