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Dates You Should Avoid When Planning a China Tour

After traveling to China, our customers like to give us good feedback. Besides good experiences, one obvious problem for them is that it is too crowded!

This is understandable. After all, there are more than 1.3 billion people living in this country. Especially during holidays, nearly all Chinese people leave their homes and go traveling. Therefore, we have given you the dates to avoid when planning your China tour below, for reference.

China's festival dates in 2017

National Day: October 1–7

  • Avoid index: ☆☆☆☆☆
  • Tourist attractions: full capacity almost everywhere
  • Transportation: very crowded
  • Travel price: very high; hotels and international flights are costlier than surrounding dates
the badaling great wallBig crowds, Great Wall of China

During this public holiday (7-day period for all Chinese people), popular cities and scenic areas will be packed. You can’t imagine what the feeling is like when 1.3 billion people are traveling at the same time and in the same country. Train tickets to popular cities (Beijing, Shanghai, and Zhangjiajie, for example) are sold out very quickly.

Useful Tips If You Really Have to Travel During National Day

  • Avoid peak times for Chinese tour groups: avoid traveling in the early morning as this is when Chinese tour groups travel around. You may need to wait for about an hour to enter the popular attractions and restaurants if you coincide with them.
  • Go to quieter places: China's remote west and southwest, such as Xinjiang and Guizhou provinces
  • Early confirmation is highly recommended if you decide to travel during this period because train/flight tickets are sold out quickly and hotels’ prices are adjusted to a higher price.

Winter and Summer Holidays: January to February, and June to August

  • Avoid index: ☆☆☆☆
  • Tourist attractions: crowded, especially the top attractions
  • Transportation: crowded
  • Travel price: high; hotel prices are higher than during ordinary travel times
Crowds at ShanghaiCrowds at Shanghai

As with all students around the world, students in China also have a summer holiday (2-month period, usually falls in July and Autust) and a winter holiday (1 month period, usually falls in mid January and mid February). Students also have favorable prices to attractions and they tend to spend time traveling to domestic cities.

The most obvious phenomenon is that train tickets are sold out quickly, in several minutes, especially at the beginning and the end of the holidays.

Useful Tips If You Really Have to Travel During the Winter and Summer Holidays

  • Avoid the beginning and the end of the holidays when traveling to other cities.
  • Don’t expect to book cheap trains and hotels. Book train tickets and hotels as early as possible.
  • Avoid cities by the sea with beaches in the summer holiday, such as Xiamen and Beihai.

Other 3-Day Peak Time Holidays to Avoid 

Crowds at Tian'anmen Square Crowds at the Forbidden City, Beijing
  • Avoid index: ☆☆☆
  • Tourist attractions: crowded for top attractions in each city
  • Transportation: trains and buses are crowded 
  • Travel price: normal price

3-Day Holidays List 

  • New Year: January 1–3
  • Tomb-Sweeping Day: April 2–4, 2017
  • Labor Day: May 1 (together with a 2-day weekend)
  • The Dragon Boat Festival: May 28–May 30, 2017
  • The Mid-Autumn Festival: October 4, 2017 (Mid-Autumn Festival will be as crowded as National Day in 2017)

The above 3-day short-period holidays are celebrated by all Chinese people. Because the period is quite short, some people may choose to stay at home and go shopping or go to parks in order to relax. But quite a large part of the Chinese population travel to cities around their home.

Chinese New Year Transportation Rush: February

crowded train stationCrowded train station
  • Avoid index: ☆☆
  • Period: January 12–February 23 in 2017, 2 weeks before and 3 weeks after Chinese New Year (January 27–February 2, 2017)
  • Tourist attractions: quiet
  • Transportation: over capacity, the most crowded time in China
  • Travel price: low

The Chinese New Year period is the most crowded travel season in the world, when all of China's transportation modes (trains, flights, and buses) are over capacity. Most of China is on the move. The Chinese New Year rush lasts for 40 days.

chinese new year The Chinese New Year period is best time of the year to experience China's traditional culture.

Although it is crowded during Chinese New Year, it is the best time of year to experience China's traditional culture. There are celebrations in every city and town. Take Beijing, for example. Beijing's Chinese New Year temple fairs reproduce the traditional customs of Beijing.

5 Days That Are Recommended: January 28–February 1 in 2017

Only 5 days during this period are recommended for traveling between domestic cities: the first 5 days of Chinese New Year (January 28–February 1, 2017).

During these days, most Chinese people will stay at home for some family time together and celebrations. This lightens the pressure on the transportation systems and presents you with travel conditions that are easier than usual. Cheap flight tickets are available during these five days!

Tibet Closure to Foreign Travelers: February to March

According to past years’ trends, Tibet is likely to be closed to foreign travelers a month or so following Losar, Tibetan New Year. In 2017, the first day of Losar is February 27th, so it is forecast that Tibet may be unavailable to foreign travelers from late February to March 31st.

Dates to Avoid Summary Table

Holiday Dates in 2017 Attractions Transportation Travel Price
National Day Holiday October 1–7 Very crowded Very crowded Very high
Winter and Summer Holidays Mid January to mid February, and July to Autust Crowded Crowded High
New Year January 1–3 Crowded Crowded normal price
Tomb-Sweeping Day April 2–4, 2017 Crowded Crowded normal price
Labor Day May 1 Crowded Crowded High
The Dragon Boat Festival May 28–May 30, 2017 Crowded Crowded normal price
The Mid-Autumn Festival October 4, 2017 Crowded Crowded normal price
Chinese New Year January 27–February 2, 2017 Quiet Over capacity Low

Places to Avoid During the Dates Above

Overcrowding is particularly likely to spoil your experience at the places below, especially at the times mentioned above, but in peak/shoulder season weekends are to be avoided too.

Whatever the Dates, You're Better Off Traveling with Us

tour guide Avoiding crowds

Need help planning your China trip? China Highlights' travel advisors can help you. We will offer you inspiration and personal suggestions. We know the best times to visit and what should be avoided. You can see our popular tours below for inspiration or tailor-make a tour according to your interests and requirements.

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