China Primers - China Travel Tips

China Holiday Dates and When NOT to Travel

There are seven holiday public holidays in China lasting from 1 day to 3 days. The holidays are lengthened by people working weekends prior and after the break, holidays such as the National Day holiday/Mid Autumn Festival period can actually become 7 day breaks or longer.

New Year January 1
Chinese New Year 1st day of 1st lunar month (late January-Early February)
Qingming Festival 5th solar term (April 4 or April 5)
Labor Day May 1
Dragon Boat Festival 5th day of 5th lunar month (late June)
Mid-Autumn Festival 15th day of 8th lunar month (late September)
National Day October 1

For travelers coming to China it pays to be very aware of these dates and avoid all travel during these times. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy the festival and traditions, but, plan ahead as when over 1 billion people take a day off…well..I’ll let the pictures tell the story. Here’s some photos from around the web showing the crowds at popular tourist sites during the recent 2013 Mid-Autumn/National Day holiday (Golden Week):


This shot was taken at Jiuzhaigou Valley in Sichuan province, an apparently amazingly beautiful and peaceful nature escape, on most days. On this day, people lined up for hours to shuffle through and then many were apparently left stranded on the mountain as bus services struggled with demand. According to one report, one man described the scene as “11 hours of chaos, anger, desperation and starvation”.




If you think that you’ll skip the cues trying to buy a bus or train ticket and take a leisurely drive in the car, think again. Some jams extend for miles and become virtual parking lots with people exiting their cars and playing badminton. News reports mention that some jams were moving at 1km per hour and persisted day long!



The Forbidden City in Beijing and the nearby Tienanmen Square managed to attract a few people.


According to the Xinhua News, Chinese railways carried over 65 million passengers during the holidays.


Shanghai’s shopping mecca, Nanjing Rd, received 11.8 million visitors during the holiday, the popular sightseeing spots being the Bund and Yuyuan Garden, received  8.8 million and 2.38 million visitors respectively.

So let’s recap a Chinese holiday that many would enjoy: day long traffic jam to get to the destination, “11 hours of chaos, anger, desperation and starvation” at the destination, over-priced & crowded hotel, and then return via traffic jam. Upon return home many were met with a smog surge and typhoon! Happy Days. Choose your own travel dates wisely!