This weekend the ‘Spring Festival rush’ kicked off in China. It’s a time when everyone begins to start the long journey home to celebrate Chinese New Year which falls on January 28.
It’s estimated that 2.91 billion journeys will be made this year during the 40 day period.
I thought it would be interesting to take a look at because it’s something that is a big part of Chinese culture and also helps show that there’s more to the middle kingdom’s festive new year than just fireworks. Its about real people travelling home to enjoy the festive period and spend time with loved ones.
For many people who come from rural areas but work in the big cities, it’s the only time of year they can return home to see family.
This does mean that the country’s railways are crammed full, tickets are sold out and any other mode of transport home is fully booked. Basically if you haven’t pre-booked, you’re stuck.
Because getting home is so important, people book their tickets home 90 days in advance to ensure that they have a ticket home.
According to Shanghaiist, last year, China’s railways, roads, airlines and waterways carried a total of 2.81 billion passengers during Spring Festival. Now that’a a lot of people.
So if you’re travelling in China during this time, what should you expect?
- If you haven’t pre-booked any trains then you may have to resort to expensive flights or if you strike lucky at a train station, you may be able to get hold of a returned ticket.
- The train station is definitely the best place to get hold of a ticket as english language ticketing sites are slower than chinese ones. I found that one out the hard way.
- Try and avoid the main congested routes, China Highlights have a great map showing congested routes.
- Things will close down during the new year period so be sure to stock up on snacks etc if you’re going to smaller areas. But if you’re going to be in a bigger city, you’ll be absolutely fine.
- Tourist sites remain open during the holiday but they get busy and you have to have a lot of patience.
- Hotels also book up really quickly so if you see spare rooms in hostels etc, then act fast. But whatever you do, don’t take up an offer from someone offering rooms outside of the train station.
- You may be invited to spend the new year with a Chinese family, definitely take them up on it. It’s a great experience.
- Make sure to pay visits to temples and lantern festivals as its the main highlight of the year.
The most important thing is to just enjoy the experience no matter how long you wait in all of the queues, Chinese New Year is a great festival with so many interesting traditions and you won’t experience anything like it.
Have you visited China during Spring Festival? What were your thoughts?
Photos are from Chinese media and solely belong to them.