BANGKOK — Enter the Year of the Pig doing more than eating dumplings and wearing a qipao.
Chinese New Year, aka the Lunar New Year, falls on Feb. 5, but several venues in Bangkok have already begun hosting festive events from traditional performances and art exhibitions to food stalls and Chi-Chi stick booths.
Here are some things to check out around town:
Yaowarat Road will be closed for two days next week for the community’s biggest celebration of the year. Wander through Chinatown to see performers swap masks dramatically in Bian Lian (“face-changing”) shows, plus Chinese opera, lion dances, a Chinese cook-off and much more.
The events run noon to midnight on Feb. 5 and Feb. 6.
Pay your respects to Tsai Shen Yeh, dubbed the “God of Wealth,” at riverside lifestyle compound Lhong 1919. Grab a chair and watch a Chinese opera performance on Feb. 4. The next day, for Chinese New Year, witness a large spectacle including lion and dragon parades, Chinese lanterns and traditional Chinese performances.
Lhong 1919 is located on Chiang Mai Alley on the Thonburi side of the river in the Khlong San area. It can be reached by motorbike or taxi from BTS Saphan Taksin or BTS Krung Thonburi.
River City Bangkok
The four-story mall overlooking the Chao Phraya River has plenty to offer for art enthusiasts.
Walk to the second floor for an innovative exhibition brought to Bangkok by Taiwan’s National Palace Museum. Up the River During Qingming highlights digital presentations of ancient art pieces from royal households of various dynasties. The exhibition runs now through Feb. 12.
Admission is 350 baht for adults and 200 baht for children. Those who dress in traditional Chinese outfits will receive a discounted entry fee.
The same floor has another exhibition by a photojournalist who has shot in Asia for more than three decades. For years, Yvan Cohen has fixed his lens on documenting Bangkok’s Chinatown to capture its rich culture and history. His works are on display at the Chinatown Photo Exhibition which opens Feb. 1 and runs through March 31. Admission is free. Cohen will hold a talk on Feb. 2.
River City Bangkok is located on Soi Charoen Krung 24. From beneath BTS Saphan Taksin, hop on a free shuttle boat from the Sathorn Pier. The boat runs hourly from 10am through 8pm.
Bangkok Screening Room
The alternative cinema will screen two Chinese New Year specials. On Feb. 2, Reminisce with the turn-of-the-century, martial-arts action flick “Kung Fu Hustle” by prolific Hong Kong director-actor Stephen Chow.
The next day, the cinema will show Ang Lee’s masterpiece “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.” The film that combined drama with innovative martial arts wire work won many Academy Awards – best foreign language film, best art direction, best original score and best cinematography.
The Bangkok Screening Room is located on the second floor of the Woof Pack Building on Sala Daeng Soi 1. It can be reached by foot or motorbike from BTS Sala Daeng or MRT Lumphini.
SF World Cinema, Central World
The cinema chain giant joins hands with the Documentary Club to host a screening of 1987 Oscar winner “The Last Emperor.” The British-Italian epic biography about Puyi will show daily from Thursday through Feb. 6. Tickets can be reserved and purchased online.
SF World Cinema is located on the seventh floor of CentralWorld shopping mall. It can be reached from BTS Chit Lom.
Central Embassy and Central Chidlom
Chinese New Year Festival comes to conjoined-twin malls downtown, where a parade of dragons and lions will march through while a 55-meter-long paper dragon installation pops up beside plentiful market stalls. Expect several booths selling Chinese food and dessert while a few others will feature lucky draw, “ang pao” red envelopes and Chi-Chi sticks.
Chinese New Year Festival starts at 7pm on Friday and runs through Feb. 11 at Central Embassy and Central Chidlom. Admission is free. Central Embassy can be reached from BTS Phloen Chit and Central Chidlom from BTS Chit Lom.
The 54 billion-baht megamall that opened in November will host a four-day celebration called Eternal Prosperity Chinese New Year. The festival will see a giant 108-meter LED lion, performance by acrobatic troupe China’s Hunan Acrobatic Art Theatre, Chinese opera show and much more.
Learn how to replicate Chinese characters and make Chinese toys at workshops held at a Chinese market held on the mall’s M floor.
Eternal Prosperity Chinese New Year runs Feb. 2 through Feb. 5 at Iconsiam. How to get there: Ride free shuttle buses from BTS Krung Thon Buri (every 10 minutes from 8am to midnight) or from BTS Wongwian Yai (every 30 minutes from 9:30am to 10pm). Free shuttle boats depart from Sathorn Pier (take BTS Saphan Taksin’s Exit 2), the CAT Tower Pier, the Si Phraya Pier and Ratchawong Pier.