February 2019

Traditional Celebrations

Vietnamese New Year (4–8 February) is known as TET and is the most important event in Vietnamese culture. It is usually celebrated on the same day as Chinese New Year. We would advise booking well in advance if you do want to travel in Vietnam at this time.

Chinese New Year (4–6 February), or as it is known in China, the Spring Festival, is the main event in February. This takes place not only in China, but in all Chinese communities around Asia including Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. It’s the most important celebration in the calendar for Chinese people, with family members traveling back to their hometown to join loved ones. Travelers can join joyous processions, explore seasonal markets, watch riveting lion dances and share in the jubilant atmosphere.

The Spring Lantern Festival in Hong Kong falls on the 15th day of the first lunar month (19 February). This is a celebration of the last day of Chinese New Year celebrations when couples spend time together on what’s informally known as ‘Chinese Valentine’s Day’.

The Mahamuni Pagoda Festival (5-19 February) in Myanmar is a special occasion when hundreds of pilgrims from all over the country travel to the most important Buddhist monument in their city.

In Cambodia, Meak Bochea (19 February) is a time when Buddhists honor the final sermon given by Buddha, notably at Oudong Mountain near Phnom Penh when hundreds of monks perform sacred rituals.

The joyous and always spectacular Chingay parades (15-16 February) features an annual street parade held both in Singapore and Malaysia (though in Malaysia it occurs in December). Expect acrobat artists, giant artistic puppets and dramatic shows.

River HongBao 2019 (3-10 February) is an annual Lunar Chinese New Year event held in Marina Bay, Singapore. Visitors can immerse in a special Chinese cultural experience through this lively festival.

The Perfume Pagoda Festival (19 February) in West Hanoi sees thousands of pilgrims arrive at a sacred cave to pray.

Vat Phou Festival (18-20 February) in Champasak is an annual festival including displays of traditional music, dance and sports. Vat Phou is the most famous Hindu temple complex in Laos and is now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Also, don’t miss the eccentric Naked Man Festival (16 February) in Okayama, Japan.

Pasola festival (lasting from early February until mid-March) is a thanksgiving ceremony to the ancestral spirit of people from West Sumba-East Nusa Tenggara. The horses used during this ritual are usually ridden by brave and skilled men wearing traditional costume.

International events

The Hong Kong Marathon (17 February) starts in the scenic Tsim Sha Tsui area of Kowloon, racing up into the New Territories and heading back down to a spectacular finish in Victoria Park on Hong Kong Island.

Enjoy the winter snow at the Sapporo Snow Festival (4–11 February), one of the most popular winter events in the country.

The Chiang Mai Flower Festival has been running for over 40 years and celebrates the beauty of flora over 3 days at the start of February each year.

Penang Hot Air Balloon Fiesta (9-10 February) provides a chance to float above Padang Polo (Polo Ground) in Penang on a huge hot air balloon. Experience floaty fun at Singha Park Chiang Rai International Balloon Fiesta
(13-17 February).

The Siem Reap Puppet Parade is an annual event for the children of Siem Reap in Cambodia. The Giant Puppet Project is a local children’s community arts project and is the largest of its kind in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Weather Patterns

It’s still cold in China and Japan this time of year and rainy in most parts of Indonesia. The weather remains perfect for travel in Southeast Asia (Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Malaysia and Singapore), with a heavy focus on travel to Thailand’s eastern seaboard (Koh Chang and Koh Kood). Northern Malaysia shares Thailand’s sunshine with clear bright days in Kuala Lumpur and Penang.