10 steps to get ready for Chinese New Year

Expat life
16 Jan 2024
8 mins read
Written by Team Instarem

Congrats, we’ve made it to 2024. If you have not got yourself together for the new year, here’s your second chance – the lunar new year.


This lunar new year starts on 10th of February 2024 and taking the stage as the next star zodiac, is the Dragon.


Before you get too excited about the celebrations, here are some steps you should take before entering a wonderful Chinese New Year. 

Read up on your zodiac’s prediction

This is the most important first step – your Chinese zodiac predictions 2024.


Your zodiac will stack up against eleven others. Most fortune tellers will provide information such as:


  • Lucky number
  • Zodiac that can boost your luck
  • Lucky colour


They will also provide a prediction of the following:

  • Wealth
  • Relationship
  • Health
  • Academics
  • Career


Most folks will use this information to decide the colour of their clothes, nails, and even hair. And if your zodiac happens to rank bottom, don’t worry, just wear red to defend against any bad luck!


Some zodiac predictions even provide the date and time to start work during the new year. Talk about squeezing every inch of luck you can get for the new year.

Repay your debts and visit Lunar New Year Market

Debts are bad luck. Period.


Ironically, it does not include all the big debts – bank loans, car loans, education loans etc.


So, you can heave a sigh of relief. But do remember to repay all the lunch or dinners that you owe your friends.


Done with debts? Time to hit the streets and soak in the festive spirit with the new year market. You can find these markets in Chinatowns all over the world. The new year market usually sells decorations, snacks and red packets.

Clean up your house

Here’s one of the simplest ways to show you are a changed person for the new year – clean your house.


Time to go through all those items, have a feel and decide if they are worth keeping for the next year.


Sanitize your whole house and keep it sparkling clean – especially your kitchen.


Legends say that one week before the lunar new year, the Kitchen God will pop in, spot check, and rate your kitchen.


Like your yearly appraisal, the Kitchen God will then report his findings to the big boss of Gods – The Jade Emperor.


If they’re happy with your performance, the Gods will bless you for the entire year.

Stock up on necessities

The reality is that most shops are not open during the new year.


Depending on which country you are in, shops will shut down from 3 to 15 days (about 2 weeks).


Expect a surcharge from cafeterias or restaurants that are open during this period. So, stock up on your necessities and buy ingredients to keep in your fridge.


Alternatively, your trusty fast food will save your day if you run out of options – that is if you can outrun this diet. 

Order your Mandarin oranges & Chinese New Year Goodies

You can’t welcome the new year without mandarin oranges. These mandarin oranges signify good luck and prosperity.


You’ll need these oranges to accompany you for house visits. So get them 3 – 7 days before Chinese New Year.


Besides oranges, buy yourself some festive snacks too. Examples:


  • Pineapple tarts
  • Peanuts
  • Bak Gwa
  • Nian Gao
  • Kueh Bahulu
  • And more…


As if these temptations aren’t enough, expect infographics that put you in misery – educating you on the calories of festive snacks.


And if you went overboard with the snacks, don’t fret. You can join the crowd in the gym after Chinese New Year. After all, misery loves company.

Get new clothes and a new haircut

One thing that nobody bothered to mention is how costly the concept of New year -New me, is.


With all the information on your lucky colour of the year, it’s time to stamp that colour all over you. Of course, if you want to play it safe, red is always the way to go.


And remember to make your hair and nail appointment one month before the new year. Higher demand also drives prices up 10% to 20%.


If you are wondering, why not cut your hair during Lunar New Year? Well, tradition says that if you do so, you are cutting your luck away.


Another option is to get your hair done at the tail end of December or after Lunar New Year to skip those hefty price tags.


In ancient times, people lit firecrackers during the new year to scare monsters away. But with the rise of related injuries, countries like Singapore banned the use of fire crackers.


These days, folks replace it with sparkler fire to celebrate the new year with a big bang.


Speaking of the big bang, expect fireworks displays at the new year countdown parties too.


You might be interested in: Alipay: Everything you need to know

Memorize Chinese New Year greetings

These specific lunar new year greetings are only used once a year. So, we don’t blame you if you can’t remember what to say.


Here is a list of helpful phrases to help you look good in front of your relatives:


Chinese Phrase 

Hanyu Pinyin 

English meaning 


xīn nián kuài lè 

Happy New Year 


gōng xǐ fā cái 

For prosperity  


shēn tǐ jiàn kāng 

For good health 


Nián nián yǒu yú 

Yearly abundance  


xīn xiǎng shì chéng 

May all your wishes come true 


Shēng yì xīng lóng 

May your business prosper 


Xué yè jìn bù 

Academic improvement 

Prepare your red packets

cny expat guide


People rarely give crumpled notes in a red packet. It doesn’t look good on the giver and doesn’t stick to the concept of “new”.


You can change your notes by making an online reservation and heading down to the banks for exchange. Banks also create pop-up tellers to keep up with the demand.


And the best part of this exercise – you can get free red packets from the banks.


Don’t fancy the designs? Buy red packets from the Chinese New Year markets or via online platforms like Shopee and Taobao.


Now that you have your fresh notes ready, time to pack them into the red packets. Remember to stick to an even number amount. Odd numbers are frowned upon as they are inauspicious.


If you are wondering how much to give? There aren’t any specific rules to that. Just give based on your financial considerations.

If you are escaping overseas during the lunar new year, bring your amaze card along

Getting away for the Lunar New Year can be such a treat! With no obligations or work to attend to, you can get away with some much-needed rest and relaxation in peace.



Before you shop overseas, pair up your amaze card with any Mastercard bank cards or top up your amaze wallet and you get to:


  • Fantastic FX rates with every global purchase.
  • Earn InstaPoints on FX spends and redeem them as cashback or discounts on overseas money transfers.


Sign up via the Instarem app and get your virtual card instantly! It’s totally free.

Or send money back home: Digital red packets

Every Chinese New Year, there’s an age-old tradition to give red packets containing lucky money. But now that technology has taken over our lives, it’s time to spice things up by sending digital ‘red packets’ to family and friends. Sending them a virtual packet of cash is so much quicker and more convenient. 


send money instarem


*rates are for display purposes only.


If you are overseas and you can’t make it home for the lunar new year, send money home using Instarem. Here’s why:


Cost effective
Low transfer fees that enable you to send money from Singapore to all over the world without burning a hole in your pocket.


Easy and fast
Transferring money from Singapore to other countries is typically an instant transaction.


Trusted and secure
Regulated by nine financial regulators across the globe with, licenses in Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, India, UK, US, EU, and Canada.


Earn loyalty points
Get loyalty points for every transaction and referral you make. You then redeem your points as discounts for future transactions.


Absolutely no hidden costs. You will be in the know of the exact rates and fees applied to your money transfer.


Try Instarem for your next transfer.


Download the app or sign up here.


*Disclaimer: This article is intended for informational purposes only. All details are accurate at the time of publishing. Instarem has no affiliation or relationship with products or vendors mentioned.

About Instarem

Instarem stands at the forefront of international money transfer services, facilitating fast and secure transactions for both individuals and businesses. Our platform offers competitive exchange rates for popular currency pairs like USD to INR, SGD to INR, and AUD to INR. If you're looking to send money to India or transfer funds to any of 60+ global destinations, Instarem makes it easy for you. We are dedicated to simplifying cross-border payments, providing cutting-edge technology that support individuals and businesses alike in overcoming traditional fiscal barriers normally associated with banks. As a trusted and regulated brand under the umbrella of the Fintech Unicorn Nium Pte. Ltd., and its international subsidiaries, Instarem is your go-to for reliable global financial exchanges. Learn more about Instarem.

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