Best Things to do in China

China is famous worldwide for celebrating its own Lunar New Year that takes place early in the year. The country does not host a mass celebration of the traditional New Year. However, there are still plenty of people who celebrate it with loads of fun activities. Chinese people are known for their practice of tai chi and martial arts.

Many people dream of visiting an exotic country like China. The New Year can pose as a great excuse to finally do so. Checking off an item on your bucket list just by being there can be a great way of ringing in the New Year. And there are so many things to do on your first trip to China.

New Year in China

If you end up deciding to go, here is your guide to spending the New Year in China 101.

Why travel for New Year in China?

People in different places care differently about New Year's Eve. While Christmas is the time to stay home or visit your parents and spend a couple of days seeing family or old friends, New Year's Eve is usually an excuse to go out and party. This can sometimes get tiring when it is repeated year after year, so many people opt for using up some of their vacation days.

Traveling for New Year has become pretty common. It can be particularly fun if you choose to visit a country like China that is somewhat exotic and probably far from everything that you are used to.

Starting off your year by visiting a new place can be quite energizing and exciting. You'll kick it off by being adventurous, trying out new things and broadening your horizons. Some people even want to move after visiting an interesting foreign country. Even if it does not inspire such extreme plans, it is definitely bound to offer plenty of opportunities for reflection at the very least.

Where to go for New Year in China?

If you have come all the way to China, chances are you want to spend your time there to the fullest. Perhaps the New Year's Eve in China itself is not even that important to you, because there is so much to do and see at all times of the day. Here are some of the places you can go while spending the New Year in China.

1. Shanghai

This global financial hub is a popular travel destination year-round. Like elsewhere in China, Chinese New Year is celebrated much more widely than the one you will be there for. But still there are plenty of things to do in Shanghai. There are many large public events on offer. However, you can also find ways to experience this great city while doing something a little smaller in scale.

Much like visiting any other major city, it might be a good idea to see what you might be interested in beforehand and plan your stay at least a little bit in advance. One of the things you definitely shouldn’t miss is walking along the streets of the former French Concession. This part of the city is very popular among tourists.

One of the reasons is because it has retained a lot of its original architecture and charm. Besides taking long walks and admiring its architecture, the streets are lined with bars you can pop in and out of.

Another thing you can do on actual New Year's Eve is to visit the late-night street food market of Shouning Lu. Here you will be able to toast in the New Year with traditional Chinese drinks and delicious delicacies. Your activities will be those of a typical New Year celebration, but they will contain the twist of trying some things you have probably never tried before.

You'll ring in the New Year acquiring some new favorites, that is for sure. Some other typical things you can do while spending the New Year in China is having fun in a karaoke bar or enjoying the fireworks and laser shows taking place on the Bund Promenade or one of the squares.

2. Hong Kong

If you decide to spend New Year's Eve in Hong Kong, you will be treated to an unparalleled fireworks show across the Hong Kong skyline. One of the things you can do on the day is to climb your way up to Victoria Peak. From here, you can enjoy the view of the city. After that, you can visit some of its street markets.

The colonial air of the legendary Peninsula hotel is where you might want to have afternoon tea before the big night on the town.

For the stroke of midnight itself, you can find your way to one of Hong Kong’s many rooftop bars. There you’ll be able to enjoy the view of this majestic city while enjoying a traditional New Year’s celebration. However, there is a way to truly ring in the New Year in a memorable way.

You can arrange for a junk in Victoria Harbor, which is a type of traditional Chinese sailing boat. Imagine making your way in a slow-moving boat just as the clock strikes midnight.

3. Mount Huangshan

A picturesque view above all else and situated in the clouds. Why not experience what it is like to be an angel or deity as they look down into valley. This is so beautiful and breathtaking, one must be there to enjoy it personally. The legend goes that these mountains have gods and deities who safe guard the land.

Climb your way up to the top and enjoy the breathtaking beauty and be in awe of China’s most beautiful mountains. The clouds sweep through unforgivingly but it brings mystery and magic to the area. It is like a lost oasis or paradise waiting to be discovered. Beautiful landscape year round and the winter brings out an even more majestic and stunning view. The different layers, shadows and colors highlights the mountain.

4. Spending the New Year in Dali

If you are looking to get a more traditional taste when spending the New Year in China, you may want to opt for visiting Dali Old Town. Visiting Dali offers opportunities for a more spiritual as well as a more relaxing experience. Tea is a big deal in Yunnan province. During the day, you can visit tea plantations and learn about the art of making tea firsthand.

A Bai three-cup ceremony of drinking tea is another unique tradition you can experience here. During this ceremony, you get to drink three different teas. The final one you drink is actually a mixture of various different flavors. It symbolizes the importance of accepting all that life throws at you. This just might be the note you want to end your year on.

In the evening, you can ring in the New Year enjoying the traditional local delicacies and artisanal products. There are actually tours available to take you through surrounding villages for a taste of the local traditional goods. You will learn something new while thoroughly enjoying yourself in the process.

Nian gao or New Year Cake is made of sticky glutinous rice or yellow rice; a traditional festive cake during Chinese New Year. Chewy and sticky when it’s fresh from the steamer, firmer and sweet later. Steamed Fish is a must for Chinese New Year reunion dinner; it symbolizes surplus/extra. The typical blessing is Nián nián yǒuyú - wishing you have a surplus of food and money every year.

There are indeed authentic Chinese dishes made with cheese. The thing is that Chinese isn’t one type of cuisine, it’s dozens of types, each with its own distinct set of dishes, flavor profiles, and ingredients. In fact, there are some parts of China where cheese, yogurt, and other dairy products are a notable feature of the regional cuisine.

Once such cuisine in China is that of the Yunnan province. In Yunnan, dairy ingredients have become a notable part of the dishes, along with many other components and flavors that outsiders wouldn’t normally think of as typical Chinese fare. One of the features of Yunnan cuisine is a goat’s cheese usually transliterated as rubing which means milk cake.

Rubing is most often served lightly fried (or sometimes steamed) and sliced along with Yunnan ham. Rubing can also be served as part of a savory main, such as rubing chao xilanhua he xihongshi, which is rubing cheese with broccoli and tomato. And there’s also Yunnan ham with broad beans and goat cheese.

Another well-known Yunnan dish that features cheese is called rushan. Typically made by the Bai people, the word literally translates to milk fan and if you’ve ever seen the dish grilled on the end of a stick, the name makes total sense. In that form, it’s often served with honey, chocolate syrup, or fruit preserves. But that same type of cheese can also be served other ways. Another popular one is deep fried until crisp.

Eaten on the first day of the Chinese/Lunar New Year - the 'Buddha’s Delight' (aka Lo Han Jai, Loh Han Chai) - is the dish with white rice. The key ingredients for flavour and taste, texture and mouthfeel. Softened cabbage through braising offers a flavourful bite than the harder raw cabbage. Dry lily buds aka 'golden needles' are earthy and sweetish with a mild tartness. This is the essential in Szechuan hot and sour soup.

Dehydrated shiitake mushrooms has a stronger aroma than fresh raw ones. Tofu skin aka bean curd sheet - made of soybean. Dried black moss ('fatt choy') is a type of fungi that resembles human hair. It is a popular ingredient in various lunar new year dishes due to the phonetic sounding ‘Fatt Choy’ in Cantonese implies "prosperity, or lots of luck".

Cellophane/mung bean vermicelli (not rice vermicelli) made with mung bean or potatoes starch. Wood ear fungus is usually sold in the dried form and doubles in size after full hydration. It is a favorite ingredient for Buddha’s Delight, as well as hot and sour soup due to its crunchy texture. Bamboo shoots are also an essential ingredient, favoured for its crunchy texture.

Fermented white bean curd is a Chinese condiment that consists mainly of soybeans, salt, rice wine. This is an important ingredient to season 'Buddha's Delight'; the stronger flavour of red bean curd will taint the colour or overwhelm the flavour of the dish. Other seasoning such as oyster sauce, artificial flavour enhancer, etc. were never used, they detract from the natural flavour of the vegetarian dish.

Optional ingredients like carrot, bean curd puff, lotus root were also used on occasions other than the Lunar New Year like in a vegetarian meal eaten at a temple celebration.
Kalyan Panja