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Festivals in Asia

April 19, 2011 By: Meagan Drillinger Travel Agent

Dragon Boat Festival, Hong Kong
During the Dragon Boat Festival in Hong Kong, teams of 20 paddlers race elaborately carved, fierce-looking boats to the beat of drums.



Inside Advice

Want to check out festivals in even more exotic locations? Asia Transpacific Journeys’ itineraries take travelers to these unique places.

First up, Tumbuna Sing Sing in Papua New Guinea. This festival kicks off on May 18 and lasts through May 20. Locals in the villages sport wildly ornamented costumes, plumage and makeup.

Sri Lanka hosts Kandy Esala Perahera Festival in early August. This medieval pageant peaks in a procession of Kandyan dancers and drummers in colorful traditional costumes and over 100 elephants.

Head to Bhutan on November 2 to catch the Jakar Tsechu Festival, during which dancers wear ancient, magically charged masks and costumes depicting compassionate and wrathful deities.


If you’ve got clients planning a trip to Asia, you may want to suggest they go during one of the many festivals held annually, where culture and pageantry take the stage in some of the world’s most over-the-top spectacles. We’ve gathered up a list of some of the more festive and tourist-friendly of these events.


In August and September, Vietnam gears up for the Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, or Children’s Tet. This is a countrywide harvest festival, and the second-most important holiday after the Lunar New Year. Each year, children light up colorful lanterns, while lion dances take place in the streets. Lion dance groups are made up of both children, as well as trained, professional groups.

If your clients want Vietnamese culture at its apex, we say look no further than Tet Nguyen Dan, which is the Vietnamese Lunar New Year and kicks off usually on the same day as the Chinese New Year. In preparation, families clean or repaint their houses and decorate them with yellow blossoms. A bamboo plant, known as a cay neu, is placed in the family courtyard and festooned with red streamers and flowers. The plant is believed to bring good luck to the family. As the year changes to the new one on the stroke of midnight, the Vietnamese beat drums, shoot off fireworks and urge their dogs to bark, which is a sign of good luck. It’s a flurry of sights and sounds that is not to be missed. 

Other early spring festivals in Vietnam are the Perfume Pagoda Festival, during which thousands of pilgrims flock to the Perfume Pagoda in the Ha Tay province—one of the most important Buddhist sites in Vietnam—and the Keo Pagoda Festival, where duck-catching, rice-cooking and firecracker-hurling contests are some of the attractions that draw worshippers each year.

Vietnam has a host of both city and beach hotels to suit your clients’ needs. If it’s beach on the brain, we recommend the Sheraton Nha Trang, which opened in May 2010. The 284-room property comes with 10 classes of accommodations. City folk should check out the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi, the city’s Grand Dame, which recently reopened after a $20 million renovation.


From May 13 through June 5, Singapore will host the Singapore Arts Festival, which has been held annually for the past 30 years. Throughout these festive days, the country highlights its indigenous music, dance, theater and visual arts.

As summer rolls on, Singaporeans gear up for the Singapore River Festival, which flows through June and July. Locals and visitors follow the Singapore River from Boat Quay to Roberson Quay, where the banks are packed with bumboat parades, live music and aerial shows.

Foodies will flock to Singapore each July in preparation of the Singapore Food Festival—a two-week smorgasbord of events all focused on the city-state’s top street food vendors.

During fall, Singapore’s streets give way to the multitude of ethnicities that make up the country. October 26 marks the holiday of Deepavali. Little India’s Serangoon Road comes to colorful life for this Hindu festival, which symbolizes the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness. In November, the streets of Kampong Glam burst into Malaysian celebrations in honor of Hari Raya Puasa, which is the end of Ramadan. Here, roadside bazaars and Malaysian food stalls spring up to continue the festivities.

We recommend putting clients up at either Marina Bay Sands, the mega integrated resort, which is a destination in itself, or the newly opened Fullerton Bay Hotel, which is a classy and chic setting for your well-heeled clients.

Hong Kong

The Dragon Boat Festival is one of Hong Kong’s most ancient and colorful traditions. Teams of typically 20 paddlers race fierce-looking dragon boats to the beat of drums. The boats themselves are a spectacle to be seen, ornamented with elaborate carvings and painted heads and tails. This year the festival will run June 17 to 19.

Hong Kong is a burgeoning culinary and viticulture capital. For the past few years the city has devoted an entire month to dining, highlighted by the Wine & Dine Festival. This year, Hong Kong’s month-long epicurean adventure will take place in November. Typically, the Wine & Dine Festival spans four days and provides an opportunity to sample award-winning dishes and wines from around the world.

The event is capped off with live music and entertainment, making Hong Kong a hub for rubbing elbows with some of the world’s best diners and partiers.

Accommodation advice: Your VIP travelers ought to check out the newest addition to Hong Kong’s lengthy list of accommodations—The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong, which opened its doors last month, and is deemed the tallest hotel in the world. More budget-conscious travelers will feel at home at The InterContinental Hong Kong.

Singapore River Festival
The Singapore River Festival draws dance troupes to the banks of Singapore River in the summer.


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About the Author

Meagan Drillinger
Meagan Drillinger has been with Luxury Travel Advisor and Travel Agent since 2009, covering both Asia and Mexico. A fan of both fabulous hotels and culturally immersive...

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By Meagan Drillinger | April 19, 2011
Clients seeking value in their travels would prefer to experience these Asian destinations at their festive best.