People in Asia would often say that how you ring in the New Year sets a precedent for the next 365 days that come after. So it is quite understandable why there is a lot of pressure among cities to throw a great New Year bash.
Here in Asia there is always something for every type of traveler, whether you wish to celebrate it in full revelry with fireworks and drinks or in a more solemn, traditional manner. Here are the top cities to be in during the change of the year:
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Known for its gorgeous skyline that features the Petronas Twin Towers as well as the KL Tower among its various skyscrapers, Kuala Lumpur presents a breathtaking backdrop for the fireworks display that happens during the New Year and Merdeka Day (Malaysia’s National Day).
For a view of the fireworks, park yourself at a rooftop bar early on and load up on good food and drinks. Marini’s on 57 is located at the 57th floor of the Petronas Tower 3, the little sister of the Petronas Towers that prefers to stay in the shadow of her well-known siblings. Across the street is Troika Sky Dining which is home to five luxe restaurants and bars that offer you a further yet fuller view of the fireworks and the towers.
Manila, the Philippines
Filipinos know how to party and it’s evident with the New Year celebrations scattered across the metropolis. Fireworks and firecrackers are lit not only at the stroke of midnight, but even hours away from the change of the year as people believe that the noisier the celebration, the more effective it is when it comes to driving bad luck and evil spirits away.
For a view of Makati, Manila’s vibrant business district, attend the New Year countdown at 71 Gramercy – a bar on the 71st floor of one of the city’s tallest and upscale developments. A short drive from Makati is Bonifacio Global City, Manila’s up-and-coming business and lifestyle district. The area is home to luxe shopping centers as well as hip restaurants and bars that host New Year countdowns.
Seoul, South Korea
For a view of the city and the iconic N Seoul Tower as fireworks light up the sky, head on over to one of Seoul’s trendiest spots – the Floating Bar at L7 Myeongdong Hotel. There’s also the The Griffin Bar, on the 11th floor of the JW Marriott Dongdaemun Square, which is one of the most popular rooftop bars in Seoul. It offers a view of the historical Heunginjimun Gate. Known for its whiskey selection and the Arirang cocktail that’s made of traditional Korean ingredients, it comes highly recommended by locals.
There’s also the highly popular Gangnam district that definitely ups the ante on New Year’s eve with bars and restaurants in the vicinity hosting their own countdowns.
New Year celebrations in Bangkok are expected to be subdued this year as it falls during the mourning period for the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej. However, if you find yourself in this sprawling metropolis, you can still enjoy a drink with a view to welcome 2017.
The Moon Bar at Banyan Tree and Sky Bar at Lebua both offer a great view of the city. Lebua also plans to proceed with their yearly ball drop that’s visible for up to a mile around the hotel. For a front row seat to it, however, you can always dine at The Dome.
Some people shy away from Tokyo during the New Year due to its quiet way of celebrating. Most establishments close down and there are no fireworks. However, if you’re the type who likes to immerse yourself in different cultures and to be one with locals during your travels, then this is the time to visit the Japanese capital.
A popular way of welcoming the new year is by going to a temple for hatsumode or “first prayers.” This is often a site to see for tourists. While waiting for midnight, you also get to feast on local delicacies as temple grounds would often have food merchants to cater to a hungry crowd. Popular temples to visit are the Zōjō-ji Temple that’s right beneath the Tokyo Tower and the Meiji Shrine.
For something a little more exciting, go shopping on New Year’s day and indulge on the Japanese tradition of fukubukuros or lucky bags that contain mystery items that go from 50% to 90% off. Just watch out for hoards of locals and tourists that may compete with you for them.
Singapore does New Year’s Eve really well every year and the iconic Marina Bay Sands is made even more spectacular as fireworks illuminate it. Lots of people stay in the hotel for a good view of the festivities so you better ask for a room facing the right direction if you’re planning to do the same. Nearby, at The Float, RnB singer Alicia Keys and alternative rock band Hoobastank are also scheduled to play for a massive crowd.
Another option is a rooftop bar called Smoke and Mirrors inside Singapore’s National Gallery. It offers a stunning view of the bay and fireworks paired with a carefully curated cocktail menu and a classy ambience.
Another city known for remarkable New Year’s Eve celebrations, Hong Kong has a lot of parties going on so people never find themselves wondering what to do but rather, where exactly should they go.
For a view of the fireworks, there is no way to go but up – the tallest building in the whole of Hong Kong, that is. Located at the 118th floor of the Ritz-Carlton in the ICC is Ozone bar and this year they’re having a Great Gatsby party that serves as another excuse to dress up.