Chinese New Year, Bali 2024: Everything You Need To Know

The Chinese New Year celebration is a real event here in Bali. It’s an official public holiday (check out our list of the public holidays in Bali) and that means there’s plenty of time to indulge in a Chinese New Year breakfast or a delicious Chinese set menu and some timeless Chinese songs during the traditional lunar New Year period.

Our guide to Chinese New Year in Bali explains what New Year is and why it matters, what people do to celebrate, the best restaurants to enjoy this auspicious occasion and more.

What Is Chinese New Year?

People hand giving Chinese red envelope, money gift for happy Lu

Chinese New Year isn’t called “Chinese New Year” in China. It’s actually called the “Spring Festival” as it’s the first day of the “lunisolar Chinese calendar” (a calendar based on both the position of the moon and the sun) which marks the first day of Spring.

It begins on the first new moon that appears in the skies between the 21st of January and the 20th of February in any given year.

It is the most important holiday of the year in China.

The period sees the largest migration of human beings on Earth as everyone in China plus almost all the Chinese people of Singapore, Brunei, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia (including Bali), Malaysia, Philippines, and Myanmar go home.

Of course, Chinese populations further afield (particularly those in USA, UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, Peru and Mauritius) also celebrate Chinese New Year.

Each year in the Chinese calendar is associated with an animal from the Chinese Zodiac.

So, 2024 (which starts on the 10th of February) is associated with the Dragon and then:
  • 2025 – Snake – 29th January

  • 2026 – Horse – 17th February

  • 2027 – Goat – 6th February

  • 2028 – Monkey – 26th January

  • 2029 – Rooster – 13th January

  • 2030 – Dog – 3rd February

  • 2031 – Pig – 23rd January

  • 2032 – Rat – 11th February

  • 2033 – Ox – 31st January

  • 2034 – Tiger – 19th February

  • 2035 – Rabbit – 8th February

And then in 2036, it starts the cycle all over again with the year of the dragon.

The Myth Of Chinese New Year

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The history of Chinese New Year is said to have originated when a Nian (an evil creature that is said to live under the sea or in the mountains of China) began to eat the children of a village in the middle of the night.

Obviously, this wasn’t a happy time, but then, one day, an old man told the villagers that they should go into hiding and while they hid, he would deal with the Nian.

He filled the town with red paper and set off fireworks when the Nian came to town.

Incredibly, when the villagers came back to the village, they found their homes untouched.

It appeared that their saviour had discovered something important, Nian are afraid of loud noises and the colour red.

Thus, on New Year, the villagers wore red clothing, hung red lanterns and scrolls around their homes and used fireworks and drums to create a racket that would cause the Nian to flee.

The Nian never returned to their village and eventually found itself imprisoned at the hands of Hongjun Laozu, a monk from the Taoist faith.

The first records of Chinese New Celebrations appear in the “Lushi Chunqui” (Master Lu’s Spring and Autumn Annals – a classic Chinese text written by a senior administrator of the time) during the period from 472-221 BC.

The best early description of the Chinese New Year Celebrations comes from Cui Shi in the Han Dynasty period.

There it becomes clear that, as with today, animism (ancestor worship) plays a large part in China’s Spring Festival.

The Basics On How To Celebrate Chinese New Year – Gong Xi Fa Cai

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Good news! Chinese New Year is an official public holiday in Indonesia (and has been for the last ten years or so).

That means you will have plenty of time to get out and celebrate with the people around you.

So, let’s take a look at how to celebrate and we’ll start with the traditional greeting, “Gong Xi Fa Cai!” This phrase does not mean “Happy New Year”, instead, it literally means “Congratulations on Getting Rich!”

This is then taken to mean “wishing you prosperity for the coming year” by many translators, but it’s not quite the same thing.

How To Get Into The New Year Celebration In Bali

If you want to celebrate the New Year in Bali then there are plenty of ways to participate in the festivities.

There is a lot of pragmatism in the Confucian and Daoist cultures that influence the Chinese New Year celebrations and thus, you will find that you don’t need to be invited to a Chinese person’s house to enjoy the Spring Festival in the same way as the Chinese do.

Go Shopping For New Clothes

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It’s very important to Chinese people that they ring in the New Year wearing new clothes.

These clothes are meant to symbolize a clean slate for a fresh year and they will usher in good fortune for the next year.

It’s so important, in fact, that in China many migrant workers won’t go home for the New Year because they are so ashamed that they cannot afford to buy a new wardrobe for themselves and their families.

Getting new clothes is a tradition we can all get behind (because after all, it’s nice to be able to refresh your wardrobe, right?) but it’s important to choose the right clothes.

You don’t need to wear a Tang Suit, a qipao or even a Zhongshan suit, all of these traditional garments are seen as out of date by most mainland Chinese now.

However, you should have some red socks or red undergarments as red is considered to be a lucky colour of both strength and prosperity for the Chinese.

Gold is also considered an excellent choice of clothing for New Year as this obviously symbolizes wealth. (Congratulations on getting rich is not a metaphor, it’s a literal statement).

You mustn’t wear black though as it’s the unlucky colour of death in Chinese traditions. You should also avoid buying or wearing new shows at New Year’s as this is considered unlucky.

It’s very bad form to wear damaged clothes (this includes deliberately ripped jeans) and the Chinese believe that this will usher in a whole year of bad luck!

Get Spring Cleaning

Hand holding variation of object

You must not do any spring cleaning on the day of Chinese New Year this is considered to be extremely bad luck and is seen as sweeping out this good fortune of the new year.

In fact, it’s so taboo that most Chinese will not clean their home for five days after the day!

That means, the day before the New Year, you want to give your home a thorough cleaning.

Not only will this help to sweep out the bad luck of the previous year but it will mean your home is ready to endure a few days of not being cleaned too.

We can’t think of many other festivals with an activity as wholesome as cleaning your home from top to bottom in a very thorough manner.

Visit Some Of The Chinese Temples In Bali

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Balinese Chinese temples are called “Klenteng” and the temples are an old feature of the island, many having been established when China first established trade routes with Bali.

These temples are small but bright and colourful and decorated with symbols of the things that the Chinese arrivals held dear to themselves.

The tiger statues, in particular, are a striking hallmark of the ferocity and independence of the Chinese folk.

Klenteng Caow Eng Boi at Jl. Segara Ening No.14, Benoa, Kec. Kuta Sel., Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia is the oldest such temple in Bali.

It’s thought to have been on the island for over 300 years and it’s one of the centres of Chinese cultural activity on the island.

It was briefly stripped of its identity under the “New Order” government but it has fully recovered, now.

At New Year this temple will be given new coats of paint, Chinese red lanterns will be festooned all over the grounds, and many red sashes and bows will be added.

You might also check out the Dharmayana Temple at 75GH+F52, Jl. Blambangan, Legian, Kec. Kuta, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia which is a Chinese Buddhist temple in Kuta.

Or the Long GwanKiong Temple in Singaraja (at JL. Erlangga, No. 63, Kampung Anyar, Buleleng, Kp. Bugis, Kec. Buleleng, Kabupaten Buleleng, Bali 81114, Indonesia).

Most Chinese temples in Bali will have a dance performance during the New Year typically either a dragon dance or a lion dance performance.

Lion Dance Performance

Girl in Chinese traditional dress in temple translation language is 'lucky and prosperity for all'

In Chinese folklore, a lion symbolizes wisdom and power and the lion dance is thus performed at New Year to bring about good fortune for the temple and its followers.

The dancers are usually martial artists (and once you’ve seen the dance you will understand why) from a local dojo.

There are two dancers in each lion costume and the lion dance performance relies on them working together in perfect harmony.

Loud music using gongs and drums will play during the dance and help add to the spectacle.

Dragon Dance Performance

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Dragons are meant to drive away the evil spirits of the old year and thus, help to bring about good luck for the future.

The dragons used in dragon dancing can range from 14 meters to 54 meters long!

The longer the dragon, the better the luck that it brings, according to Chinese traditions.

As with the lion dance, it requires an incredible amount of synchronization between the dancers to bring about a successful performance of the dragon dance.

Go Out To A Chinese Restaurant For Dinner (15 Great Choices)

There are so many tasty food options on the island that you can’t go wrong when searching for a Chinese feast to enjoy with your family.

Keep an eye out for classics like Peking duck, yee sang salad (prosperity salad), crispy pork belly, kung pao chicken, chocolate hazelnut moon cake, sticky rice cake, sweet and sour seafood soup, and more!

Although all the Chinese restaurants here in Bali are likely to be open and serving for this festival, we’ve got fifteen options below where we know they’re making an extra special effort to enjoy the Spring Festival.

Petulu Restaurant, Ubud

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It’s the year of the Wood Dragon and they’re going to be offering a very special Chinese dinner for the New Year at Petulu in Ubud.

There will be a full barong dance performance to kick things off, followed by a delightful Chinese fusion buffet.

They will also be serving some delicious and exciting Chinese-themed cocktails to wash it all down with.

This is expected to cost 700,000 ++ IDR per person (with 50% off for children under 12) including all food, drinks and entertainment.

Where Is It? G7HH+X4H, JL Tegalalang, Banjar Nagi, Ubud, Tegallalang, Kec. Gianyar, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80561, Indonesia

Holiday Inn Resort Baruna Bali: Palms Restaurant

They’re going all in with an Asian-fusion feast at Palms Restaurant brought to you by the legendary Chef Bernard and team.

This dinner is going to deliver an incredible range of Chinese dishes and there are far too many tasty options to leave the table feeling hungry.

We can’t wait for the Hoisin Glazed Roast Duck or the Sweet Azuki Bean Pie!

You can get an early booking discount of 30% if you book and pay before February 5th and otherwise, it’s 499,000 ++ per person with a 50% discount for under 12s.

Where Is It? Jl. Wana Segara No.33, Tuban, Kec. Kuta, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia

Desa Viesa Ubud: Lumbung Restaurant

Lumbung will only have been open for a few days since its refurbishment when Chinese New Year arrives.

To celebrate they’re going for a three-day Chinese culinary experience and you can enjoy some lovely special menus each day.

If you visit on the 10th, you will be given an “angpao” which means you could win attractive dining vouchers, spa vouchers or more!

Every menu item on the Chinese menu is priced at 88,000 ++ IDR for this and you get 10% off your entire bill!

Where Is It? Desa Visesa, Jl. Suweta, Bentuyung Sakti, Kecamatan Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80571, Indonesia

Bali Dynasty Resort: Golden Lotus Restaurant

The Golden Lotus Restaurant isn’t holding back anything and you will find they’re offering an amazing 9-course set menu (bookings must be for two or more people).

We want to try the Stir-Fried Beef Saigon, Steamed Whole Fish and Deep-Fried Prawns in Golden Sand Sauce! It looks so delicious!

They will have a barong dance performance on the 9th and then a live Chinese singer on the 10th.

Expect to pay 488,000++ per person for this exciting event!

Where Is It? Golden Lotus Restaurant, Jl. Kartika Plaza, Tuban, Kec. Kuta, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia

Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua Beach Resort: Kwee Zeen Restaurant

Kwee Zeen is going with Pan-Asian scrumminess for its Year of the Dragon celebrations.

There will be dragon dancing and a Barongsai parade to help you navigate the flavours of the day.

It’s a very reasonably priced menu too with prices of just 449,000++ per person!

Where Is It? 665H+7PP, Benoa, South Kuta, Badung Regency, Bali 80361, Indonesia

Hotel Indigo Bali Seminyak Beach: Makase Restaurant

This pan-Southeast Asian restaurant will be offering an oriental feast for the occasion.

This is a buffet experience with an incredible range of starters, mains and the best desserts on the island.

Who doesn’t love some sesame seed dessert balls or salted caramel choux after some Singapore chilli crab?

The night should be around 650,000++ per person.

Where Is It? Jl. Camplung Tanduk No.10, Seminyak, Bali, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia

Renaissance Bali Nusa Dua Resort: Lion X Restaurant

Arguably, one of the finest Chinese restaurants on the island, you have to be thinking about popping into this popular hotel for a feast.

Expect several different menus, in the same tradition as last year, with a different price point for each menu depending on what food options you prefer.

These can range from 800,000++ to 1,400,000++ based on last year’s prices.

Where Is It? Kawasan Pariwisata Lot SW 4 & 5, Jl. Nusa Dua, Bali, 80363, Indonesia

Naga Eight Restaurant, Sanur

This superb Cantonese restaurant in Sanur is one of our favourite places for Chinese food at any time of the year.

They will be offering a series of set menus (minimum booking for four people for each menu) with some of the tastiest treats around.

You can expect to pay between 388,000 ++ IDR and 588,000++ IDR per person depending on which package you opt for.

Where Is It? Jl. Danau Tamblingan No.89, Sanur, Denpasar Selatan, Kota Denpasar, Bali 80228, Indonesia

AYANA Estate: Ah Yat Abalone Seafood Restaurant

This lovely restaurant will host barongsai dances on the 9th and then lion dances on the 10th.

They will offer a family-style lunch and special dinner menu from the 8th to the 11th and this will include favourites such as Buddha Jumps Over the Wall Soup and Fortune Colouful Glutionous Rice Balls!

Their sister bar, the Rock Bar, will have a countdown for the New Year on the 9th!

Where Is It? Sejahtera, RIMBA Jimbaran BALI by AYANA, Jl. Karang Mas, Jimbaran, South Kuta, Badung Regency, Bali 80364, Indonesia

Jumeirah Bali Segaran Dining Terrace

If you fancy a bit of clifftop dining to ring in the Spring Festival you can always head out to Uluwatu.

They have a full Chinese New Year Night Market as well as a special menu at the Segaran Dining Terrace.

Expect to pay from 950,000++ IDR per person to sample the menu, with drinks on top.

Where Is It? Kawasan Pecatu Indah Resort, Jl. Raya Uluwatu Street, South Kuta, Badung Regency, Bali 80361, Indonesia

Golden Monkey Restaurant, Ubud

It’s time for the weekend all-you-can-eat dim sum brunch and happily it the New Year falls on a weekend.

This is one of the best value Chinese meals on the island and we can thoroughly recommend their BBQ dishes, especially the char siew.

This is just 195,000++ for adults and 97,500++ for under 12s, you simply can’t go wrong at that price!

Where Is It? Jl. Dewisita, Ubud, Kecamatan Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80571, Indonesia

Hotel Tugu Bali: Iwa Restaurant

This excellent restaurant will be having lion dance performances and an amazing Chinese New Year’s Eve Dinner followed by a New Year’s Day Brunch.

The exact price of this offering isn’t known as we go to press, but we would expect it to be in the same order of magnitude as most other hotel restaurants.

Where Is It? Pantai Jl. Pantai Batu Bolong No.117x, Canggu, Kuta Utara, Badung Regency, Bali 80361, Indonesia

Happy Chappy Restaurant, Seminyak

This famous Chinese restaurant has a Dragon’s Den Barr and while they’re not offering a special Chinese menu for the day, their ordinary menu is pretty special.

You pay for what you order here and we’d recommend that you book in advance.

Where Is It? Jl. Beraban Banjar Taman Seminyak No.62, Kerobokan Kelod, Kec. Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia

Warung Laota, Jimbaran

If you want an authentic and humble a la carte menu for the day, you can’t go wrong at Warung Laota.

They’ve been dishing up some of the best Hong Kong-style Chinese food on the island for the last 15 years.

Where Is It? Pertokoan Niaga Nusa Dua, Puri Mumbul, Jl. Bypass Ngurah Rai No.77x, Jimbaran, Kec. Kuta Sel., Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia

Give Out Some Red Envelopes

Woman holding Chinese red envelope, money gift for happy Lunar N

The reason that the traditional greeting is “congratulations on getting rich” is that there is a Chinese tradition of handing out red envelopes at the New Year.

These envelopes are given out by married people to unmarried members of their own family and inner circle (the Chinese concept of “guang xi” is beyond the scope of Chinese New Year in Bali but it’s essentially a form of networking that helps Chinese people understand who they are obliged to do things for and who is obliged to do things for them – “guang xi” also dictates the group that gets red envelopes).

Each red envelope contains a sum of money. This money must be in multiples of 8 (8 is the lucky number in Chinese) and the amount will vary depending on who is giving the envelope and who is receiving it.

In Indonesia, it would be unlikely for an envelope to contain less than 88,000 IDR but 888,000 IDR would be a better gift for close family members.

One thing that won’t happen, however, is 8,888,000 and that’s because four is the number of “death” in Chinese and thus, four eights are very unlucky indeed and we don’t think that anyone could fit 88,888,888,000 IDR into an envelope of any kind (eight 8s would be super lucky).

If you want to give out red envelopes at this time of year, they will be gratefully received by local children and any service sector staff that you might want to reward for their hard work.

 

Go Out With Your Family

Chinese three generation family in traditional clothing

Don’t forget that like all big social occasions, Chinese New Year is most of all about family.

Why take some time to explore the island together or come and join us at FINNS Beach Club for a relaxing time by the ocean with tasty food and drinks on hand? (We’ve even got some tasty Chinese food from our Rice Daddy kitchen, so you can continue to enjoy the flavours of the day).

You could hit up West Bali National Park, Bali Zoo, Tanah Lot Temple, or any other exciting place on the island. Make the most of Chinese New Year in Bali, you’ll have to wait a whole year until the next one!

FAQs

Do They Celebrate Chinese New Year In Bali?

Yes! While the majority of people in Bali are not of Chinese descent, there are plenty of Chinese-Balinese and they celebrate Chinese New Year and welcome you to join them during this period.

You will, of course, find the biggest celebrations taking place in parts of the island with large Chinese communities and we’d recommend heading to a Chinese temple if you want to enjoy a lion dance performance or a dragon dance performance.

All of the island’s Chinese restaurants will be offering a tasty introduction to Chinese culture and you can find everything from roasted Peking duck to wok-fried king prawns to wonton noodle soup to Cantonese raw fish salad or traditional authentic Chinese noodles on offer.

Chinese delicacies are a wonderful way to enjoy this time of year and we recommend you keep an eye out for our favourites – Chinese sweet dumplings.

Does Indonesia Celebrate Chinese New Year?

Yes! In fact, Bali is a part of Indonesia and wherever you find Indonesians of Chinese descent or Chinese expats, you’ll find people celebrating the New Year in Bali.

Interestingly, the government made the day an official public holiday around 10 years ago and this reflects the increasing political might of a small group of the overall Indonesian population (Sino-Indonesians represent around 3-4% of the population of the archipelago).

Not that anyone else is complaining, mind you, another day’s paid holiday in the year is always a positive thing, right?

In 2024, the holiday falls on a Saturday, but that doesn’t mean that workers will miss out if they’re off on weekends, they can claim the day off on the next working day, instead.

Does Bali Celebrate Hari Raya?

Yes, Hari Raya Nyepi is the biggest celebration of the year in Bali and the entire island closes for the day of Nyepi (the festival of silence).

On this day, there are no flights in or out of Bali and everyone is expected to remain in their home from 6 a.m. to 6 a.m. the next day.

You are meant to spend the day in quiet contemplation and Balinese people don’t use lights, the Internet, or any other tool on this day (most will cook the day before to ensure that eating doesn’t interfere with their quietness).

Visitors to the island are expected to spend the day of Nyepi in their hotels and villas. It’s a very pleasantly relaxing experience.

How Does Bali Celebrate Chinese New Year?

Not all Balinese people celebrate this festival as it’s really part of Chinese culture as opposed to Hindu culture.

However, if you visit the Chinese temples here at this time of year, you will find they come alive with dragon and lion dance performances and you can enjoy tasty treats at the Chinese restaurants in Bali too.

If you’re lucky enough to know a local Chinese person well, they might invite you to take part in their family’s private festivities.

How To Book A Holiday In Bali For Chinese New Year Celebrations

If the thought of Chinese-inspired culinary delicacies such as traditional sticky toffee cake and other festivities has inspired you to come to Bali for the Chinese New Year, then we recommend that you book your holiday in Bali through the Bali Res Centre.

The Bali Res Centre is a locally owned and operated travel service which specializes in Balinese travel experiences. They can get you the perfect accomodation near to your preferred Chinese restaurant and the best flights too.

Their prices are always competitive and when you book with Bali Res Centre, your holiday money stays in the local economy rather than being sent overseas to a multinational company’s coffers.

Final Thoughts On Chinese New Year Celebrations In Bali

Come and join the Chinese New Year Celebration in Bali! We’ve got all the authentic Chinese cuisine and lion and dragon dancing you can handle.

After spring cleaning, a tasty meal of crispy pork belly and yee sang salad, you can venture out onto the island and spend a wonderful day with your family.

You can even stop in at FINNS, the world’s best beach club, at the end of the day for some dancing of your own!