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The Chinese New Year is a lively occasion celebrated around the month of February by 20 % of the world’s population. Similarly, you will find an immersive Chinese experience during Chinese New Year celebrations in Bali (Indonesia), in the context of everything Bali has to offer for tourists. These celebrations are very important because like the Chinese lunar calendar, local culture in Bali follows the lunar calendar rather than the Gregorian calendar. Therefore, the Chinese New Year is significant not only to Chinese-origin people living in Bali, it holds direct significance with the culture in Bali and is thus celebrated with fervent celebration.
Since the Chinese calendar is based on positioning of the moon unlike the universally followed Gregorian calendar, the day falls on a unique date every year but usually in the month of February.
The Laba festival precedes the Chinese New Year celebrations, and the day after New Year’s eve marks the beginning of Spring festival. Spring is the season of new starts and blooms, which coincides with the theme of New Year, hence celebrations go on for 16 days and even after New Year’s eve, finally ending with the Lantern festival. For the next year, celebrations are going to take place from February 11 to February 26. This is arguably regarded as the best time to visit Bali.
One of the reasons for this is that the weather in Bali is suitable during this time as well. The general weather in Bali is act7ually warm and humid throughout the year, but a bit cooler along the coastlines.
Bali is a predominantly Hindu island in the archipelago of Indonesia. However, it is also known as the land of gods as there are a lot of pagan-based practices followed around in Bali in modern contexts. Therefore, Chinese New Year is locally referred to as Imlek in Bali.
Relevant practices from the Chinese New Year history like the reunion dinners and decorations of red make up an important theme of celebration and rejoice that the celebrations identify with. The original Chinese trends float around during Chinese New Year celebrations in Bali, but with the touch of Bali infused into it.
Chinese New Year celebrations in Bali extend beyond just the Chinese traditions, but definitely inclusive of those. Temples are significant spots in Bali located in large numbers. The Chinese-origin population in Bali frequent temples locally called klentengs. These may range from local temples to some of the most ancient temples in Bali.
Some of the hotspots of celebration amongst these are Ling Gwan Kiong and. Located in Singaraja, the temple hosts an energetic dragon dance in the backdrop of the sea since it is located on a waterfront adorned by Dutch colonial architecture scattered around the place.
Located in Kuta, one of Bali’s most hectic areas. In the backdrop of that hustle and bustle, and lion dances and dragon dances that take place here during the Chinese New Year celebrations, you will be able to find solace inside the temple through the wonderfully scented incense sticks that are burned.
Moreover, Chinese New Year decorations in Bali adorn these temples as well and add a whole new dimension to the intrinsic feel of the place. A lot of those are handheld that people carry around the complex, resulting in a floating nature of colorful decorations.
White and black colors are avoided in decorations because these colors are supposed to be an end of sorts, because they lie on ends of the color spectrum. Colorful is an important theme, and you will be able to spot an immense range of colors beautifying different places to visit in Bali, and in homes of people who want to partake in the celebrations.
In Chinese mythology, the color red on the outside walls of houses supposedly keeps away all monsters, and it has become an integral part of Chinese New Year celebrations in Bali too. Over time, this cautionary measure evolved into a way of celebration and togetherness, and the relevance of red transcends over home decorations, attires, etc., and over geographical divides. Since 2021 is the year of the Ox, decorations for the Chinese New Year in Bali will have images and symbolisms of ox.
Traditional Chinese prayers are offered inside temples, for those who seek solace, success and offering of gratitude through spirituality. At the same time, a loud and dazzling display of wonderful firecrackers and fireworks build an all-round atmosphere of joyous celebrations resonating across areas. All of these make the Chinese New Year celebrations considered as the best time to visit Bali by many.
The Chinese restaurants that are in plenty in Bali offer authentic special delicacies during the celebrations. One of the most famed of these delicacies is the Kung Pao chicken at Happy Chappy. A chain of 3 restaurants named as Laota offer 24 hour Chinese menus and platters during the festivities of this time. If you want to further try local twists and blends added to the Chinese New Year food in Bali, the more indiginous food places in Bali would have something to offer for you too.
The Chinese New Year history is abound in lores of monsters lurking out in the open on this day. Therefore, at nighttime.families would stay in with each other and prepare feasts in order to appease the gods, deities and any monsters that might be on the prowl outside.
People often like to base their home meals on the Chinese New Year food in Bali during this time. The new year’s dinner, also aptly called the Reunion dinner, is the day when all family members from near and afar come back home and eat a fancy meal sitting together. This is actually an important event and an opportunity to spend quality time with family and catch up on each other’s lives.
As a heartwarming gesture, in case a family member can’t make it home for the occasion, it is customary for their spot to be left vacant with cutlery arranged on the table in front, to signify their irreplaceable role as a family member.
Important dishes conventionally cooked and consumed during this dinner include spring rolls (including egg rolls), dumplings (also known as momos in some places), noodles, steamed fish, steamed chicken, countryside vegetable stir-fry, etc. The dinner also includes a hot pot of uncooked meat and vegetables as the centerpiece of the dinner table, that everyone at the table can draw from as per their convenience.
As desserts, rice cakes are a must to go along with this dinner. The abundance of rich rice fields in Bali thanks to the natural volcanic soil of the area allows for a tremendous supply of the different types of rice cakes that are conventionally traditional to the Chinese New Year food range. Besides the dinner feast, snacks consumed on this day include baked seeds, malt candy, ginger candy, popped rice, fried dough twists and fruit platter.
Each of the dishes consumed during the Reunion dinner holds a specific and deep symbolism relevant to the occasion. For example, the noodles at dinner are supposed to be long noodles, as the length of the noodles signifies the longevity of your lifespan as you move into the new year. Similarly, consumption of grapes is meant to foreshadow abundance because grapes come in bunches. In addition, these dishes are not finished but consumed the next day too, as a way to prolong the fortune that the family wishes upon themselves.
People gather at celebration hotspots that are adorned with traditional Chinese decorations like hanging lanterns, purchase decorative items and souvenirs that are available in plenty. They greet each other and wish them happiness and fortune. All of this adds to the peace and grace that floats through the airs of Bali during the Chinese New Year celebrations.
Even so, spending quality time with family members is often the priority, and the customary Reunion dinner with family is organized too where family members gather at home and enjoy the feast while talking to each other and catching up. People tend to avoid bickerings and arguments of all sorts, as it is considered bad luck in essence of new year and new beginnings.
A popular and customary tradition for Chinese New Year is giving money to friends and family in red envolopes. Red is regarded as an auspicious color in Chinese beliefs, and so that makes the display of love and the money inside the envelope both bestowed with good luck. It is always advisable to put new currency bills inside these red envelopes, instead of old-looking ones.
New Year’s is a time of new beginnings and fresh starts. To complement that theme, people splurge on new clothes, but often they are given as gifts to friends and family. Traditional Chinese-styled attires which are red in color are often sought after and even available, along with items like Chinese-styled shoes and accessories.
The Denpasar Airport in southern Bali, officially known as Ngurah Rai International Airport, is well-connected by air to most destinations around the world. The airport is located at a distance of 15 km from the city of Bali. Once you get to the airport in Bali, you will easily be able to catch a private taxi or board a bus that will take you into the city. If convenience is your priority when pondering about how to reach Bali, then traveling by air is definitely the way to go.
Flights to Bali operate from most major international airports in India. Garuda Indonesia operates non-stop flights from Mumbai to Bali. However, if you wish to board from Delhi, only connecting flights will be available. Singapore is a convenient and popular midway stop in such cases, as you will get a load of facilities and easy and regular flights to Bali from there. The other options for such a stop would be Manila, Bangkok, etc. Your choice should depend on your personal preferences during the visit and your budget for the trip. A round trip to Bali from India will cost you about INR 20,000 on average, and it will travel a distance of 5,829 km taking an approximate of 9 hours.
If you prefer to avoid air travel as much as you can, then it is possible to travel to Bali by road from India. But this option might leave you with the question of how to reach Bali at several points during the trip. On this route, you will be passing through Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia before you enter Indonesia (Bali). However, this road journey can take upto 2 weeks so you need to make sure you have enough time for it and actually like road trips. But the major setback to this plan would be the requirement of visas for all of these countries you will be passing through.
Once in Bali, tourist shuttles in minivans (bemos), buses and rideshares will be available at cheap prices. However, these tend to be very crowded and not readily available. Privately owned shuttle buses function better that ways. You can also hire a taxi to take you directly to the spot of your choice. As an alternative, you can enroll yourself into a tour group and follow the set travelling route that will take you around all tourist spots in Bali.
Being a tourist hub, Bali offers accommodations in low budget, mid-range and luxury facilities all available in ample. However, economy-wise, hotel stay is relatively cheaper. The south of Bali is a bit more dense and crowded and most of the low-budget hotels are available there. The northern part is more mountainous, and a bit hard to travel through, but it houses many cottages and resorts. Due to the consistent weather in Bali, location and time aren’t much of factors critical to your stay location in Bali.
Even though due to the small size of Bali it is well possible to travel to and from any spot in Bali and get back to your hotel, traffic in the south and rugged terrains in the north can make it a bit inconvenient. Hence, it is often advisable to shift bases every 4-5 days if you are staying for a long period of time.
ZIA Hotel and The One Legian are two budget hotels with pretty decent facilities. They will offer accomodation at a little over INR 1,000 for an overnight stay.
Grand Mirage Thalasso is an example premium beach resort in Nusa Dua for those who prefer a campus-based stay along the beachside. Besides, the Kubu Benoa Guest House here will offer accommodation at around INR 2,500. Pondok GardenBali Guest House will even provide shared lodging at INR 700-800 on a per night basis.
You will find hotels from all price ranges in Ubud, like Pao Desa (INR 1,700/night), Purana Suite (INR 3,400/night), Ketut’s Place Villas (INR 7,900/night).
Amerta Seminyak will offer you comfortable accommodation at rates of about INR 2,100 per night. At the other end of the budget spectrum, The Colony Hotel will provide world-class facilities under INR 12,000 to make your stay loaded with luxury.
Bali has a major Hindu local population and culture. Because of that, there are a number of majestic temples located in Bali. Some of these are namely Pura Tanah Lot, Uluwatu Temple, Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, Tirta Umpui Temple, etc. These temples offer views of ancient local architecture set amidst a scenic backdrop of mountains, seas and forests. However, it is worth noting that foreigners aren’t allowed entry inside most of these temples.
Ubud is famous for its abundance regarding art and culture, a fact that was popularized by the hit movie Eat, Pray, Love. The area boasts of a lot of museums, art markets and even a mask and puppetry theater. If you are a fashion freak and love glamorous or flamboyant styles of apparel, then Seminyak is definitely a place for you, as it houses a vast market for such items in shops lined along the streets. Sukawati Art Market is especially famous for wooden art pieces like photo frames and home decor. If what you seek is an assortment of souvenirs and craftwork, Ubud Art Market is also definitely a must-visit for you.
For those seeking an escape from the fast pace and occasional crowds during the Chinese New Year celebration in Bali, Nusa beach, Lovina beach, Tanjung Benoa beach, Sanur beach and Kuta beach are a few of the soothing beaches that offer pristine and clear waters. Lake Batur and Lake Beratan are two of the most beautiful lakes in Bali. If you wish to enjoy the pleasures of water while staying in the city, then you can visit Waterbom Bali, which is an adventure-packed water theme park in Bali. If you prefer a water park with milder safer environments, then you might wish to check out Bali Wake Park instead.
Spots like the Sideman Valley offer recluse amidst nature as well, along with a direct glimpse into the feel of old Bali. Besides, there are ample mountains, volcanoes, forests, rice terrace-cut fields and waterfalls scattered throughout the island of Bali, with small village-dwellings of local people in some of these places. It might be best not to interact too much with these local village people unless you are certain that they are welcoming and friendly people. Nusa Penida is a gorgeous and scenic tiny island based off of Bali, with tremendous views of rocky land masses like cliffs lined through the stretches of water.
Bali is famous for having a romantic vibe about it. This is mostly brought about by the natural setting and landscape of the place. However, there are places to visit in Bali that are designed especially to capitalize on this feel and amplify it for those that it is sought after amongst, honeymooners and nature-lovers, for example. Swept Away At The Samaya is a restaurant built for this very purpose, with tho soothing sounds and views of a gentle river stream flowing nearby.
For the Chinese New Year celebrations, some of the best bars and restaurants are located in Seminyak. METIS Bali is an all-round fancy restaurant that offers a mix of different cuisines in its food and also hosts a great Chinese New Year celebration in Bali. One other restaurant that offers some of the finest celebrations during this time is Golden Monkey in Ubud. Other good alternatives to those would be the number of beaches present around Bali. In case you are staying at a resort, most of them do offer celebrations on its campus during the Chinese New Year.
All in all, if you go for the Chinese New Year celebrations in Bali, not only will you be able to find a rich and authentic Chinese experience, you will get to visit unique tourist places and have an overall rich experience exploring this small island. There is no denying that there are a lot of sides to Bali, but if you do the right planning or take the right package then you can bet you will come back with an enriched experience.