Drive.SG CNY Survival Guide 2015

Chinese New Year is around the corner! For the whole of February (well, of course there’s Valentine’s Day too), Chinese families are going to be extremely busy stocking up and preparing for the festivities. Not to forget the non-Chinese, Chinese New Year in Singapore can be quite a big festive celebration (especially if you intend to be in or around Chinatown).

Read on for tips on how you can “survive” the Chinese New Year hustle in this coming Year of the Goat (meh~).

Surviving the dinner

Chinese new year can be a time of great anguish especially for people who are single, unmarried couples, or married couples with no kids. This is the time when all the nosy relatives come to the fore.

Here’s some of the ways we deflect those pesky questions:

For the singletons

If the enquirer happens to have kids your age, deflect by asking about their kids! If their kids are facing the same "problem", chances are they will stop pestering you about your lack of a significant other (S.O.)

  • “Aunty, your ah boy/girl leh? Got girlfriend/boyfriend already?”

Sit next to the snacks. When questioned, start stuffing your face with those delicious pineapple tarts. (That’s killing two birds with one stone - enjoy the goodies while they last)

  • “hmm? *harumph, hrmph, hrmf*” (Fingers crossed they feel awkward by your muffled mumbling and just walk away)

For the unmarried couples

One of the most commonly used (and probably the most effective) excuse is by talking about CPF/HDB.

  • “Aiyo. Now so hard to save. CPF no money, HDB no house for us. Better not marry so early lah”

CPF/HDB issues are a common pain point for most Singaporeans. Once this topic comes up, let’s hope they get distracted and start talking about their own CPF/HDB woes.

For couples with no kids

Blame HDB. Flats nowadays are so small, there’s hardly any room for you and your S.O. to move much less have hyperactive kids running around.

  • “Raising kids are so expensive! You can buy xx of (insert item of your choice), for the price of milk powder these days!”

Another pain point is the rising cost of everything. This is by far the best excuse couples with no kids can give (assuming you are not planning on starting a family so soon).

  • “We have our hands full with (insert name of pet). No time/energy to have kids.”

This would be one of our quirkier responses, but hey, why not give it a try?

General rule of thumb: Keep yourself fully occupied! If you’re caught idling about, chances are pesky relatives are going to corner you with their interrogation.

Surviving the commute

Chinese families usually have plenty of houses to visit over the festive weekend. Public transportation is going to be packed to the brim. It is also one of the times when taxis are hardest to get. Our suggestion (and some tips on car rental this season):

Choose your timing wisely. Between 5pm-7pm is when most people will be travelling to their reunion dinners or starting them.

Buses and trains will be packed like sardines, and cabs will be nowhere in sight. Having a car for personal use saves the hassle and worry of not getting to your destination on time. Get more use out of a rental car when you plan multiple visitings in one day!

Plan your time right down to the second, and make sure your family hustles along at your stipulated time. Otherwise, you might just end up getting caught in a jam.

Rent a car instead

This is the best option for those with a really hectic visiting schedule this Chinese New Year. Your plan to visit multiple places in one day would go much smoother if you had transport at the ready.

We suggest renting a MPV or any rental car with a bigger capacity so that you can pack more people in (or have more space per person) when you go CNY visiting.

Leave Singapore for the holidays

Unless you have reunion dinners to attend, leverage on the 4-day break and plan a short holiday to nearby countries. For the non-Chinese, take this opportunity to have a bit of R&R and get away from the hustle and bustle of city life in Singapore.

Take note: Chinese new year is a very popular time for renting cars in Singapore. Many people rent cars for the long holiday. Car rental companies take this opportunity to offer cars in conveniently packaged rates of at least 4 to 5 days, as low as $700. Start gathering quotations early and book fast to prevent the disappointment of not getting the car of your choice.

Research on road closures if you are going into or near Chinatown

As the festive season picks up, sections of roads will be cordoned off for the Chinese New Year festivities

Be careful not to get caught in a “jam”

Here are some information on road closures in Singapore:

Surviving the holiday/season

Singapore being a multi-cultural society, some families might open their doors to non-Chinese friends to join in the celebration. For you non-Chinese, here are some considerations:

Being a hermit

Many shops will be closed or understaffed. Take the time before Chinese New Year to stock up on some supplies (especially food!).

Crave those Chinese New Year goodies? You better stock up early (or visit your Chinese friends whose homes would most definitely be chock-full of these yummy snacks)

Make a foray into the Chinese New Year traditions

If you get invited to celebrate Chinese New Year, do note some of these customs:

  • Prepare 2 mandarin oranges, and proffer them to the host with both hands. They will exchange mandarin oranges with you in return. (You also get to collect ang baos at these functions)
  • Always greet starting from the eldest in the family.
  • During the meal, you MUST sample from all the dishes laid on the table. NEVER stick chopsticks vertically into the bowl (these symbolise joss sticks, and are considered bad luck). Do not wave your chopsticks around. 
  • Remember to use the central serving utensils. Do not use your own chopsticks to pick into the central dishes. It is considered unhygienic to use chopsticks that have been in your mouth to pick from central serving bowls.
  • After the meal, leave a few scraps on the plate. This is to signify to the cook that you have enjoyed the meal, and to attract money/good luck as with the Chinese saying - 年年有余 nian nian you yu.

With that comes the end of our Chinese New Year survival guide for 2015. If you are interested in renting for Chinese New Year, take a peek at our sweet CNY deals here:

Drive.SG wishes everyone a prosperous Year of the Goat, 祝您喜气洋洋!