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The basics
Malaysia: Once you arrive - Must read

Celebrating Chinese New Year in KL? Here are some things you should know!

chinese new year

Just as the Christmas tree is taken down, it is quickly replaced with big red lanterns in shopping malls and homes – and this is when you know that Chinese New Year is once again here. The Chinese New Year festivities officially last for 15 days, with the last day (15th day) called ‘Chap Goh Mei’ – a day where families reunite from everywhere to have a family meal together. If you are studying in Malaysia and you’re going to be around KL during this year’s Chinese New Year, here is some information that will certainly come in handy for you!

Public Holidays

Date Day Holiday State
10th February 2013 Sunday Chinese New Year All
11th February 2013 Monday Chinese New Year All
12th February 2013 Tuesday Chinese New Year All except for Kelantan & Terengganu

Chinese New Year in Malaysia will be celebrated with 3 public holidays (except Kelantan and Terengganu which only has 2 days of public holiday). Usually when it’s a long weekend’s break many will take leave from work starting Friday. Hence, it will be at least a 4-5 days where many stalls and shops are closed – especially those run by Chinese owners.

The main thing you should be concerned about is that almost all businesses will be closed during the actual celebration days. The entire city of KL will come to a standstill. Food stalls that will still be open are fast food chains (like McDonald’s and KFC), Indian-Muslim mamak stalls and 24-hour convenience stores such as 7-eleven. Shopping malls will be opened but during the mentioned public holidays, most of the shops inside the malls will be closed. So the tip here is to do your shopping before Chinese New Year!


Enjoy good traffic!

Most of the people living in the city will be away during this festive season. It’s also one of the very few occasions in a year that you get to enjoy a straight road in KL! Public transportations such as KTM, LRT and public buses are yours to enjoy.


Try Yee Sang!

What is Yee Sang? Well, it’s a Malaysian Chinese appetizer served before a meal (lunch or dinner). More than just a delicious delicacy, Yee Sang serves as a symbol of “good luck” for the new year that all Chinese are welcoming. The dish is served with a vast variety of ingredients – each having its own significance. Some ingredients are strips of raw fish, chopped peanuts, toasted sesame seeds, Chinese shrimp crackers, and many more.

Every year, on the first day of Chinese New Year, my family would go to a good Chinese restaurant for dinner and this would be our appetizer. No Chinese New Year meal would be complete without a plate of Yee Sang to kick start the eating spree! Some restaurants put in their own special ingredients. My favorite is when salmon strips are added into the dish along with some honey sauce. That, to me, is the perfect Yee Sang.

Yee Sang

The way to eat Yee Sang is to have everyone at the table stand up and toss the shredded ingredients into the air using a pair of chopsticks. While doing so, say auspicious wishes out loud. It is believed that the higher you toss, the more the growth will be in your health and wealth.


So in short, here is a summary of the things to do and not to do during this Chinese New Year in KL:


  1. Go for a stroll at the city, enjoy the serenity! (And of course the smooth traffic as well)
  2. Go to your nearest Chinese restaurant and try out Yee Sang at least once this Chinese New Year
  3. Watch a Lion Dance performance at your nearby tourist attraction


  1. Don’t do your Chinese New Year shopping during the holidays. Do it before! Or if you’re just intending to shop for the sake of shopping, then just wait until after the holidays to shop till you drop.
  2. Don’t engage in any governmental businesses during the public holidays. Do it before or after. (Example: Visa)
  3. Don’t go fixing your gadgets (hand phone, laptop…etc.) during this festive season. Once again, it’s better to do it before or after Chinese New Year because most of the shops will be closed.

Also, remember to wear red during Chinese New Year as it is the color that symbolizes good fortune, prosperity and luck. With all these tips, I’m sure your Chinese New Year in KL will be a joyous and memorable one. Happy Chinese New Year in advance!

Study in Malaysia


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