China’s Worst Travel Days
What is the worst day for visiting a popular tourist destination in China? How about the worst day for traveling within China?
Take a moment to guess where these two dates fall before reading on.
Hangzhou & Lots of People
With not much money to spare, and a travel decision done at the very last possible moment, it was Hangzhou that my girlfriend and I ended up in on October 1st.
China’s Busiest Site-Seeing Day
If you guessed that the ‘worst’ day to go site-seeing in China is October 1st, congratulations because you know what you’re talking about.
With a seven day holiday and no pressing reason to visit the rest of your family, Golden Week (National Week, or 国庆节) is the most convenient time to see China for hundreds of millions of Chinese people.
The first couple of days are usually the most crowded since three days of travel are usually followed by three days of rest – and so October 1st ends up as hands down the busiest day to see China’s most famous sites.
人山人海 is a very common four character saying in Chinese – and one that struck a chord the past couple of days. It means “people mountain people sea” – basically a lot of people – and these past two days it took on a special meaning. When people in front of you and behind you block out much of the mountains or water from your line of site, people literally become ‘people mountain, people sea”.
Yet even walking slowly in lockstep around Hangzhou’s West Lake was still a great time and break from Shanghai – the holiday feeling was all around. I even turned off my cell phone for a day and a half.
If you want relative peace and quiet during your future travels, stay home during Golden Week (if you’re working full time in China, however, this may be one of the only chances you get to see China – just remember to brace yourself for enormous crowds of people).
China’s Worst Traveling Day
So what’s the worst day to get from one place to another in China? The night before the lunar new year is arguably the most important part of Chinese New Year (ringing in the new year with the family, so to speak) – so everyone must get home – which means one to two days before the lunar new year is by far the hardest time to travel in China.
It is these two days that are the craziest time to try and squeeze on a train or even a bus – if you can avoid it, don’t travel on a train during these two days – it is a claustrophobic experience you may never forget.
Just because it’s hard to get around doesn’t mean that the Chinese New Year is a bad time to see tourist destinations. On the contrary, since most people in China are at home celebrating the new year, you can enjoy many of China’s finest sites in relative peace and quiet. Try to schedule your travel such that you are not on a train (and are instead enjoying some of China’s finer sites) during these crazy two days, and you’ll be just dandy.
Your China Travel Warnings
Got anything to add? It would be great to hear your advice and warnings below.
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