Chinese New Year is the most important holiday in China and there are so many ways to celebrate. Hong Kong is said to be one of the best places to enjoy fireworks and parades without becoming a human sardine. The firework display is supposed to be one of the most impressive in the world. My husband, his family and I got to watch it while drinking champagne on a boat.
We booked the Chinese New Year Fireworks Cruise with Buffet Dinner and Drinks in advance through Viator. We paid around $200 per person for the sightseeing boat with a 55 person capacity, free flowing beer, wine, champagne and soft drinks as well as a buffet dinner. The whole thing was organized by Hong Kong Yachting and it was almost worth the money.
After several sunny days the weather finally refused to cooperate and it started drizzling right before the boat took off at 6PM. We got to the pier early and the six of us were lucky to get seats at a table. Many others had to sit in plastic chairs or on the top deck with no cover. It wasn’t exactly what we expected for the price, but the drinks started flowing immediately which cheered us up.
The buffet was served quickly but the food offered was different than what was promised in the cruise description. There was a warning that the food may change but it was still quite disappointing to get meatballs instead of roasted duck and tofu. The highlight of the buffet was a chocolate cake that made up for the lower-quality food: it was rich, moist and melted on our tongues. Also, no matter how much everyone drank, they did not run out of alcohol!
At 8PM the fireworks began and we had a decent spot to watch among many other boats. The fireworks were beautiful, even though they were obstructed by clouds, and the display lasted for 23 minutes. I may be spoiled by dozens of New Years celebrated in Prague, because I wasn’t as impressed by the fireworks as I expected to be.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed every minute of the cruise, drinks and fireworks. But if I could have a do-over, I would do things a little differently. The fireworks were tiny from the boat, so I recommend getting to the pier early, camping out with a bottle of champagne and watching the fireworks from there. Some people recommend watching from the Kowloon side of the river, but I would pick a spot at Victoria Harbour.
A better way to spend the $200 that the cruise cost would have been in the highest bar in the world. The rooftop sky bar, OZONE, belonging to the Ritz-Carlon, offers beautiful views of the Hong Kong skyline. However, as Anon-man-from-uk so adequately wrote in his Trip Advisor review of the bar, the prices are “eye-watering even for Hong Kong”.
Before you get discouraged from spending Chinese New Year in Hong Kong, please keep in mind that the weather was horrible and I’ve seen too many grand firework displays in the past to get impressed by them anymore. Please keep an open mind and learn more about the celebrations here. You can read about other people’s experiences here. Stay tuned for more Asia adventures!