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Dates You Should Avoid When Planning a China Tour

If you are planning a 2016 China tour, some dates that are useful to know are the dates to avoid, such as "Golden Week" and other times when flights to Asia and within China are very expensive. Here is the lowdown (busiest first) to help you plan your vacation.

Dates to avoid when planing a China tour

October 1–7: National Day Holiday "Golden Week"

the badaling great wallBig crowds, Great Wall of China
  • Period: September 29 – October 10, depending on adjacent weekends
  • Tourist attractions: fully-packed, especially the top attractions
  • Quieter places: China's remote west and southwest such as Xinjiang and Guizhou Province
  • Transportation: very crowded
  • Travel price: very high; international flights costlier than surrounding dates

Many Chinese people use this  holiday to travel to domestic cities, causing crowds everywhere and very busy traffic. There are large crowds in attractions. You may need to wait for about one hour to enter the popular attractions and restaurants.

Hotel and transport prices are increased, leading to high-budget travel during this period. Booking of hotels and flights can be very difficult (early confirmation is highly recommended if you decide to travel during this period). Keep close contact with our travel advisor if you travel with us during this period.National Day holiday usually ends on October 7, but we include adjacent weeks in this peak period. Transport networks are most crowded during the period from September 23 to October 7, and less crowded in the week following "Golden Week".

China Highlights suggests you avoid this period when planning a tour of China.

Continue to read: Top Places to Escape the "Golden Week" Crowds.

May 1–3: Labor Day Holiday — second busiest

Crowds at Tian'anmen Square Crowds at the Forbidden City
  • Period: April 28 – May 5, depending on weekends
  • Tourist attractions: crowded, but less than around National Day
  • Quieter places: China's remote west and southwest such as Xinjiang and Guizhou Province
  • Transportation: crowded, but better than around National Day
  • Travel price: high, international flights costlier than surrounding dates

The Labor Day Holiday is another travel peak for in China.

Though the holiday only lasts three days, the tourist peak will lasts for about 8 days. The crowds at attractions, high travel costs, long waiting times, and busy transportation during this period may make your tour to China frustrating.

The Chinese New Year Rush — transport chaos

  • Period: January 23 – March 2 in 2016, 2 weeks before and 3 weeks after Chinese New Year
  • Tourist attractions: quiet
  • Transportation: over capacity, most crowded time in China
  • Travel Price: low

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

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

Only 5 days during this period are recommended for travel between domestic cities: the first 5 days of Chinese New Year (February 8–12 in 2016). During these days most Chinese people will stay at home for family time and celebration, which lightens the pressure on transportation, and presents you with possibly easier-than-usual travel conditions. Cheap flight tickets are available during these five days!

However, the Chinese New Year period is best time of the 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.

Chinese New Year is based on China's lunar calendar, falling somewhere between January 21 and February 20. See Chinese New Year Dates.

February/March — Possible Closure of Tibet

  • Period: February/March, a month or so following Losar, Tibetan New Year

According to past years’ trends, Tibet is likely to be closed to foreign travelers during the Tibetan New Year period. In 2016, the first day of Tibetan New Year is February 8, so it is forecast that Tibet may be unavailable to foreign travelers from February 8 to March 31.

Dates to Avoid Summary Table





Travel Price

National Day Holiday

September 29 – October 10

Very crowded

Very crowded

Very high

May 1 Holiday

April 28 – May 4




Chinese New Year

January 23 – March 2 in 2016


Over capacity


Whatever the Dates, You're Best Traveling with Us

Li River CruiseLi River Cruise

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. 

Tailor-make a tour or you can have a look at our most popular China tours good any time:

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