In the United States, most of us are aware of Chinese New Year, and maybe some of us like to go out to a Chinese restaurant to celebrate it.
But why not celebrate Chinese New Year 2007 in grand style by taking a trip to Hong Kong?
The Chinese Lunar New Year is the longest chronological record in history, dating from 2,600 B.C. It is a yearly calendar, based on the cycles of the moon. Because of this, the beginning of the year can fall between late January and mid-February. In 2007, it is Feb. 18. It takes 60 years to complete a cycle containing five cycles of 12 years each.
Each year is named after an animal. Chinese legend states that Lord Buddha summoned all the animals of the earth to come to him before he died. Only 12 came, and as a reward, he named a year after each one in the order they arrived. Next year is the Year of the Pig.
A trip to Hong Kong from our area would involve a flight to Los Angeles, then a flight of about 15 hours to Hong Kong.
I recommend purchasing a package, which will include airfare, hotel and transfers. Hong Kong offers an excellent array of fine hotels. You'll need at least eight days if you plan on staying only in Hong Kong, more if you wish to spend time in Singapore, China, Thailand or Vietnam.
A typical package will include a Hong Kong Island tour, which will take you on the Victoria Peak Tram, Hong Kong's premier visitor attraction.
The tram, which has been operating since 1888, is actually a railway carved 373 meters up a steep, lush mountainside. It is best to try to get a seat at the front of the tram on the right-hand side for the most scenic view.
Once atop Victoria Peak, after enjoying the views of Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the harbor, you'll find indoor entertainment at the Peak Galleria and the Peak Tower, as well as Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum.
Another stop will be at the famous Stanley Market for bargain shopping, a Sampan ride to see the Aberdeen typhoon shelter and a look at the lifestyle of Hong Kong's remaining fishermen.
Aside from the many other sightseeing opportunities, it is the celebration of Chinese New Year that is the lure of this trip.
On Chinese New Year's Eve (Feb. 18, 2007), you should make a point of having a special dinner at The Jumbo Kingdom, an internationally renowned floating restaurant, for a traditional 10-course dinner. The cost is about $95 per person and includes transfers.
The next evening, Chinese New Year's Day, you must see the New Year parade (your tour package will include reserved seats). The parade is part of the annual festival organized by the Hong Kong Tourism Board and will feature uniquely designed floats, street theatre, live performance groups, celebrities and special guests.
The next night, also for about $95 per person, you can see one of the world's most spectacular fireworks shows while enjoying a harbor dinner cruise. The price includes a wonderful buffet dinner, dancing to the music of a live band, soft drinks, wine, beer and round-trip transfers.
There is much more to see and do while in this part of Asia, and if time and budget permits, it is a good idea to take advantage of it after traveling so far.
Whether you decide to go to Hong Kong or just order your favorite Chinese food, enjoy the Chinese New Year festivities in 2007, the Year of the Pig.
Lisa Vivirito is owner of Diamond Travel in Vero Beach. Call her at (772) 567-8481 or (800) 795-1986. www.diamondtravelofvero.com.