Living in China

Migration Nation: What does it look like when 1.3 Billion people go on Holiday?

The Spring Festival Travel Season, or Chunyun (春运), is well underway as people race home to chow down on dumplings and set the country ablaze with crackers and fireworks.

Of course Spring Festival and Chinese New Year is much more than overeating and going deaf or possibly being blinded, but we’ll talk about that another day, today it’s all about travel chaos, as millions pour into China’s transport system try to make it home.

The 2016 Spring Festival travel period runs from January 24 to March 3, a total of 40 days with peaks around February 5 and 7, and again between February 11 and 13. Here’s a number to scare you, it’s expected that a staggering 2.91 billion trips will take place according to the NDRC (more here). It probably doesn’t scare ticket sellers or petrol station owners though.

So what does it look like when the worlds most populous nation goes on holiday? Here’s a gallery of 2016 Spring Festival travel photos via the web, friends and from wechat posts, including pics of Guangzhou Railway Station, Hangzhou East Railway Station which are pretty crazy at the best of times:

Cities with the busiest rail traffic

Once again, Baidu has set up a live map of train travel journeys which you can view at It uses data from QQ browser and from train ticket sales to visualise all the journeys as they are happening.

Baidu Chunyun map

Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou are the busiest cities for outbound journeys. As for inbound traffic, Wuchang, Chongqing, Chengdu, Wuhan and Zhengzhou are the busiest. (more here).

Crazy Traffic Jams
While many people battled huge crowds reportedly in excess of 100,000 at Guangzhou Railway Station yesterday, people driving or travelling by bus didn’t fair much better. Some people reported road blocks lasting for hours. If you are driving by road there’s a live updating traffic map of the major highways at


Me? Thankfully, I’m not going anywhere this year 🙂 I’m sitting back watching the snack stalls come under siege as the festival shopping onslaught begins.