Want to escape Singapore for New Year’s Eve? Gwen Pew and Gabrielle Jaffe round up the best places to celebrate across Asia.
4 Dec 2013:
For beach celebrations
For a more chilled out and romantic way of counting down, why not hop over to Bali and enjoy the moment on beautiful golden sands? Almost all the beach bars and clubs around the city will put on special New Year’s Eve nights, and the most well-known spots are the ones in Kuta, Seminkyak and Legian. Otherwise, Puputan Badung Square’s annual parade does a pretty good job of getting revellers in the mood, with a huge carnival that caters to young and old alike.
The heritage district of Ubud is becoming increasingly popular, and its New Year’s Eve celebrations do go on well into the early hours, but it’s still a good way of beating at least some of the tourist crowd. For those of you craving a bit more quiet and privacy, Sanur offers some stunning beaches, or try staying at the mountain lake resort area of Bedugul instead.
Get there Air Asia (www.airasia.com) flies direct to Bali from $232 return.
For shopping and alternative firework views
The main countdown event in Bangkok takes place in front of the Central World Square outside the eponymous shopping centre – the largest mall in the city. Enjoy live concerts by various popular local bands along with light displays and screens broadcasting countdowns from other cities – including the spectacular one in Sydney, which is four hours ahead of Thailand – before a brilliant fireworks display marks the New Year in Bangkok.
For those of you who want a swankier setting and panoramic view, your best bet is to head to the ‘Altitude’ party, which is held annually at the rooftop of Imperial Queen’s Park Hotel, 37 floors above ground. THB1800++ ($70++) will get you access to two helipad-turned-dance-floors with local and international DJs helming the decks, three drinks and the chance to experience a fireworks show up close.
Otherwise, river cruises are also popular on NYE and companies such as Chaophraya Princess Cruise, White Orchid River Cruise and Grand Pearl Cruise all have special tours that include dinner, live music, celebratory drinks and, of course, a gorgeous setting to view the fireworks from. Costs range from around THB3,000 to 4,000 ($118++ to $158++); seewww.thairivercruise.com for details.
Get there Tiger Airways (www.tigerair.com) flies direct to Bangkok from $230 return.
For fancy fireworks and culture vultures
As Asia’s concrete jungle, Hong Kong knows how to pull out all the stops when it comes to ushering in the New Year in style, with the largest fireworks display breaking out beautifully on the harbour itself. There are many places you can get fantastic views of the show from, but we’d especially recommend Ritz Carlton’s Ozone bar on the 118th floor, which is hosting a special Black and Gold Masquerade Ball for the evening with tickets costing HKD600 ($97). Otherwise, check http://www.aqua. com.hk to see if the iconic red-sailed traditional vessel will be operating like they did last year for a postcard perfect way to celebrate the night.
Away from the harbour, Sha Tin Park plays host to a countdown carnival with an eclectic mix of music, dance, jugglers and artistic performances. A highlight here last year was Herbert’s Dream by French arts group Quidams, which saw little white figures on stilts transform into four-metre-high illuminated giant elves, all set to music. This is one for the dreamers – and the broke (it’s one of the few parties in Hong Kong with free admission).
Get there Scoot (www.flyscoot.com) flies direct to Hong Kong from $450 return.
For views of iconic landmarks
If you’re after iconic landmarks as the backdrop of your fireworks photos, head to KLCC Park for the best view of the ones exploding over the Petronas Towers. However, many other venues around the city centre will also be staging their own shows – check out Sunway Pyramid, Damansara Mutiara, Bukit Building or Dataran Merdeka.
To catch the riot of colours and sounds at a glance, most surrounding five-star hotels offer a pretty decent view from their rooms or bars: Traders Hotel’s Skybar and Mandarin Oriental’s Sultan Lounge are both good places to check out.
Get there Tiger Airways flies direct to Kuala Lumpur from $117 return.
For street parties and entertainment
A lot of posh hotels around Manila Metro are throwing large-scale extravagant parties, with some of the most popular ones at Edsa Shangri-La, The Peninsula Manila and the Dusit Thani Manila, all featuring live music and a delicious dinner.
Makati City will once again host an annual street party, starting at the corner of Peninsula Manila Hotel, featuring all sorts of entertainment delights such as magic shows and other performances. Plus, it offers one of the most impressive fireworks shows in the country.
For a bit of retro dance music, Discovery Suites is where you need to be, as DJ Shanti Santos and the Human Race Band will be on stage to lift you up into high spirits with their euphoric brand of tunes. Resorts World Sentosa’s Filipino counterpart also traditionally holds parties at Bar 360 and The Plaza in Newport Mall. While there will be no fireworks here due to its proximity to the airport, this is nonetheless a brilliant destination for starting 2014 with a bang.
Get there Philippine Airlines (www.philippineairlines.com) flies direct to Manila from $262 return.
For traditional temples and music madness
If you want to be one of the first people in Asia to see in 2014 – and to see it accompanied by banging beats from some of the biggest names in the electronic music industry – then head to the Land of the Rising Sun. In previous years, Tokyo mega-club Sound Vision Museum has managed to nab Detroit techno masters Jeff Mills and Derrick May for its wild and crazy NYE parties. See http://www.vision-tokyo.com nearer to the date for details. For those who prefer to say goodbye to 2013 with live music, surrounded by a rowdy crowd of party-goers, Rockin’ On magazine’s Countdown Japan festival sees 100 acts playing across four stages over three days, culminating in one big all-night party on New Year’s Eve itself.
Looking for something less head-bangy? Then mosey on down to The Pit Inn, the Shinjuku den that puts on an all-night jazz-in with dozens of veteran musicians. Punters are free to come and go as they please, which is perfect if you want to sneak off for a spot of hatsumode. What’s hatsumode, you ask? This all-important first shrine visit of the year sees the Japanese don colourful kimonos and present amulets at Shinto shrines across the country at midnight on 31 Dec. But don’t worry if you’re too busy partying at the stroke of midnight – the atmospheric shrine visits go on throughout the night and continue for the first few days of the New Year.
Get there Vietnam Airlines (www.vietnamairlines.com) flies direct to Tokyo from $837 return.