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Chinese New Year - beginning to feel regret

Ayutthaya, Thailand
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Chinese New Year - beginning to feel regret

I have business in Singapore immediately after Chinese New Year so I have arranged to arrive with my partner a few days early to take in the New Year. I'm now rather beginning to regret my decision. Am I right in thinking:

- it's going to be difficult to find somewhere good to eat with many restaurants either fully booked already or closed

- attractions such as Sentosa are going to be very, very crowded.

Am I being overly pessimistic?

And as for seeing traditional festivities, where do you suggest precisely? And at what time of day? (Other reviews are frustratingly vague on the topic.)

And finally, does anyone know whether Chef Daniel has opened a new restaurant? I loved Chef Daniel's Kitchen and am saddened to learn it's closed.

Thanks in advance.

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1. Re: Chinese New Year - beginning to feel regret

It's swings and roundabouts.

Yes attractions will be crowded. Yes a lot of restaurants will be fully booked.

But if you want to see how the Chinese celebrate the New Year, you're probably in the best place on earth.

We were last there in 2011, and went to Lau Pa Sat food court for our evening meal (unfortunately it's now closed for renovation). It was quite quiet, and we had no problems getting food.

We also enjoyed a stroll through the very peaceful financial district, so nice to see it without the crowds.

So choose something the Chinese aren't likely to do that day, or spend some time in a relatively quiet city centre, and don't miss the special events. But it's not the best day to enjoy a good meal.

I wish we could be there this year. You'll have a great time.

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Lau Pa Sat
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2. Re: Chinese New Year - beginning to feel regret

Singapore used to turn into a ghost town during the CNY period for a few days but things have changed. Malls re-open on the 2nd day of CNY. As for food, fast food outlets, Malay and Indian restaurants will be open. You can visit Little India and Kampong Glam (Arab St) on the 1st day of CNY. Plenty of food options there.

Also check out these other threads related to CNY.

Chinese New Year 2014 light up at Chinatown

tripadvisor.com.sg/ShowTopic-g294262-i1747-k…

CNY Fireworks

tripadvisor.com.sg/ShowTopic-g294265-i1748-k…

Crowds at tourist spots in Spore post Chinese new year

tripadvisor.com.sg/ShowTopic-g294265-i1748-k…

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Kampong Glam
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3. Re: Chinese New Year - beginning to feel regret

There will still be restaurants that cater to CNY celebration dining but they may only have CNY festive menu option compared to the rest of the year. Restaurants that have non-Chinese staff eg McDonalds, KFC should still be available.

If you want a Chinese restaurant that may not be fully booked yet, try www.fungdinghung.com

They opened not long ago and so are not very well known. The furnishings are plush Victorian style, service is good, food is not bad (like 2 out of 3 dishes we ordered) but on the expensive side. They are open everyday but call to check the dining hours. I think reservations are required.

Edited: 26 January 2014, 03:06
Ayutthaya, Thailand
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4. Re: Chinese New Year - beginning to feel regret

Thanks for the replies so far.

I'm still struggling to get to grips with just how grim things will be for us. Lots of conflicting information out there.

I've read that food courts will be closed (though the first reply mentions having a meal at one at this time of year). What's the actual situation?

Shopping malls reopening on the 2nd day, OK. Do even the big malls in Orchard Road actually close?

Tried booking a few restaurants, even though all-you-can-eat buffets isn't really my thing. Totally failed. My Thai partner doesn't like Indian food. I have horrible visions of eating KFC and McDonalds in what is one of the best food destinations in the world.

Edited: 28 January 2014, 03:32
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5. Re: Chinese New Year - beginning to feel regret

The situation is not grim at all. Most coffeshops have at least a zichar stall which will be functioning on Chinese New Year's Eve as they serve the reunion dinner crowd. Many stalls are closed for the first two days but you should be fine on the third day. So the worst case scenario is eating fast food (there's Pizzahut for pastas and pizzas) for the first two days of CNY. Does your partner like Chinese food? The restaurant I mentioned above is open during CNY.

Edited: 28 January 2014, 03:49
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6. Re: Chinese New Year - beginning to feel regret

You didn't mention the specific dates, probably on 30th-2nd Feb the popular restaurants would be quite full but for 2 pax, I am pretty sure they can put you in. Unlike the old days, restaurants these days are helmed by non-Singaporeans and slim chances of them closing as this is the best time to make $$$.

Sentosa is definitely going to be crowded especially the popular places at Resorts World Sentosa - SEA Aquarium, Universal Studions and Adventure Cove. Same for the Zoo. You might want to visit after 2nd Feb.

If by any chance you come on or before 30th Jan... your best bet to catch the festivities and jostle with the crowd is at Chinatown. Otherwise it would be pretty quiet at the malls during CNY.

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Resorts World Sentosa
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7. Re: Chinese New Year - beginning to feel regret

Yea malls are closed on the first day or CNY and usually re-open on the second day onwards. Food courts are usually found in malls and will also be closed on the first day. Some stalls are usually open from the second day onwards.

If you don't want to eat fast food on the first day, you can go to restaurants in hotels. They should be open.

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8. Re: Chinese New Year - beginning to feel regret

I honestly don't think you'll have a bad time. Several times we've left Langkawi and come to Singapore for the New Year, and had a really good time.

Expensive restaurants do get crowded. Food courts aren't the place people go to celebrate, so some close so the owners can enjoy the New Year, but some stay open. So it all depends on where you are. You may get a tasty meal in a food court; if that doesn't work out, goto Burger King or similar.

There are a lot of special events. So keep an eye open. We visited the Istana Palace, which is only open a few days each year.

I'd advise you to avoid Sentosa. It gets really crowded, and just isn't fun.

Overall I cannot think of anywhere I'd rather be than Singapore for Chinese New Year.

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Ayutthaya, Thailand
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9. Re: Chinese New Year - beginning to feel regret

Well, I survived and didn't starve. Didn't even need to resort to junk food. The food court at ION Orchard was open with almost all vendors working. It was absolutely packed on CNY days 1 & 2, though the restaurants off it were quieter and we had no problem getting a seat in one of those.

To be honest, I ate better on this trip than I did on my last one. Last time I followed recommendations to stalls in various hawker centres and ate food that was mediocre at best. I guess that some of these places, once they get recommended, let standards slip.

On CNY day 3 went to the food court at Takashimaya. Almost all vendors working. And a good selection of quality food. (Better than ION in my opinion.)

For high end restaurants, reservations proved impossible, except for very inconvenient times; I don't want lunch at 3 p.m. or dinner at 6.

No problem getting taxis.

As for tourist attractions, I've visited most of them over the years, but Gardens By The Bay was a new one for me. Very short queue to get tickets. Not so busy inside. Loved the Flower Garden, but not so taken by the Cloud Forest (but then I'm not a fan of heights, and no way would I do the high level walks). Got an S$8 discount on each ticket by presenting Tigerair boarding pass stubs, which was nice. (Yes, I'm a cheapskate when it comes to airline fares.)

My only regret was arriving on CNY day 1, by which time all the major festivities had ended; really nothing to see in Chinatown, apart from some tacky stalls and a couple of over-priced, touristy restaurants. I think it would have been much better to arrive a day or two earlier. That said, I did see a lion dance inside one of the department stores. Just a pity that I was desperately trying to get to a toilet on the far side at the time. (Dodgy prawns in the airline lounge in Bangkok on my way out, I suspect.)

All in all, a good trip. And I'll be back.

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10. Re: Chinese New Year - beginning to feel regret

Glad it worked out OK.