Lunar New Year is up there with one of the most anticipated holidays in Indonesia. The holiday commonly known as Chinese New Year is a special time for the residents in the cities of Jakarta, Tangerang and Bekasi. These cities put on a huge variety of shows, celebrations, parades and dances. Like any great celebration, they last over the course of two weeks. Imlek, as it’s locally known in the country, was actually opposed from being celebrated up until the year 2000 and a few years later was deemed a public holiday throughout the country. The majority of the festivities are concentrated in the larger urban areas where populations of Chinese living in Indonesia are higher.
Anywhere in the central Jakarta, Tangerang or Bekasi are a good bet. All cities have large Chinese populations and will be buzzing with the celebrations. With large public holidays it is common for hotels and guest houses to book up well in advance. You’ll want to arrange early to get the best hotel option. Many hotels are Chinese owned or have Chinese restaurants attached to them this can be convenient and brings us to the next point.
Good luck! No really, enjoy a good luck Chinese New Years dish. Any Chinese restaurant in the city will be serving a special each night and many will host a performance of transitional Chinese dances and music. Expect to eat some tantalizing duck, seafood and meat dishes. If you fancy just soaking up the atmosphere without booking a table head along Gang Gloria in the Jl. Pancoran area to indulge in a more relaxed environment.
It easy and welcomed to gather in on the celebrations during this time of year. Head to Chinatown district to stock up on red lanterns and enjoy some of the tasty New Years treats. Many of the stalls in Chinatown will sell Dodal Cina, a favourite toffee like sweet made from rice flour and caramel sugar. While you’re there, stop to visit some of the temples and see the locals getting involved with giving their thanks for the new year. Often people will seek advice on their future or wish their fortunes to be told, it can be a fun experience to join in on. Jin De Yuan ,Kim Tek Le, and Lie Tek Kwai are all Chinese temples in the area worth a visit to witness the people praying for a peacful and fortunate new year.
If you are lucky you may see a dragon dance being performed in the streets. The dragon is an iconic symobol of china and the dance is performed with several people under a large dragon costume. Moving the custome up and down to replicate the movments of a real live dragon. If you can not find a street performance takingn place on Chinatown, most malls in the city will be decorated in traditional chinese colours of red and gold and will have performances with drumming, dancing and singing in the main atriums.