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9 Top Places to Escape the Crowds at Chinese New Year

9 Top Places to Escape the Crowds at Chinese New Year

Written by RitaUpdated Jan. 18, 2022

Chinese New Year (February 1st, 2022) is the most celebrated festival in China. It is the time for family reunions, and most Chines people will travel to their ancestral homes for family gatherings during the 7-day public holiday (January 31st, 2021 to February 6th, 2022)… if COVID measures permit, meaning transport is very busy.

In recent years, holiday traveling to celebrate the New Year has become trendy, which makes Chinese New Year another crowded travel season. In 2021, more than 200,000,000 trips were made around and during the 7-day public holiday.

Where to escape the crowds while enjoying a top-drawer tour becomes the key question. Here are 9 top recommendations that will not disappoint you… 

1. Tiger Leaping Gorge: Hike amid Spectacular Scenery

Tiger Leaping Gorge HikingEnjoy a bottle of beer after the hiking
  • Suitable for: Energetic outdoor adventurers   
  • Duration: 1 or 2 days
  • Suggested starting point: Lijiang
  • Transportation: Bullet trains are easily accessible from Kunming and Dali. Flights are recommended from Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou.

Known as the deepest gorge in China (though a lesser-known gorge in Tibet is actually deeper), Tiger Leaping Gorge is a paradise for hikers. After visiting the lively Lijiang Ancient Town, you can reach Tiger Leaping Gorge with a 2-hour car ride to escape from the festive hustle and bustle.   

During Chinese New Year, hiking along a Tiger Leaping Gorge trail will bring you an off-beaten-path experience. Hike on trails, breathe in the fresh air and embrace the stunning scenery. 

You can discover spectacular views of the gorges from the steep 28 bends. Stay overnight at Halfway Guesthouse, and enjoy the panorama of the Jinsha River and a beautiful sunset at its viewing terrace. FYI, booking in advance is necessary as Halfway Guesthouse is quite popular.

Recommended tours:

2. Tibet — Holy Land on the Roof of the World

Tibet — Holy Land on the Roof of the WorldPilgrims journey to Lhasa
  • Suitable for: all ages
  • Duration: 4 to 8 days
  • Suggested starting point: Lhasa
  • Transportation: Overnight trains from Xining (about 24 hours) are more advisable. Flights from Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Beijing are time-savers.  

Tibet, known to many as the city of sunlight, is not as bitterly cold in winter as you might imagine. Thanks to the rich sunshine, you can see the snow-wrapped peaks clearer in winter, especially Mount Everest. Resting from farming/herding, many rural pilgrims journey to Lhasa, equipped with spinning prayer wheels and butter lamps.

In off-peak season, you are likely to get around CN¥4,000 off per person for an 8-day tour through airline and hotel promotions as well as zero entrance fees from December to Mid-March.  

Recommended tours:

3. Western Sichuan: Lost Ice World and Lovely Hot Springs

Ice ClimbingIce Climbing
  • Suitable for: travelers who love picturesque scenery and Tibetan culture
  • Duration: 4 to 7 days
  • Suggested starting point: Chengdu
  • Transportation: Flights from Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou are recommended.

Western Sichuan is a paradise for outdoor adventures, especially around Mt. Siguniang and Bipenggou. The area has kept its pristine scenery and ethnic culture beautifully.

In winter, hot springs, skiing, and ice climbing are the icing on the cake. Stunning ice cascades are a paradise for ice climbing, which is only possible in winter (from late December to February). After some skiing or a mountain hike, relax in a hot spring surrounded by snowy mountains.  

Recommended tours:

4. Guilin: Journey to Milder Climes with Marvelous Countryside and Caves

wild underground cavewild underground cave
  • Suitable for: families and outdoor enthusiasts 
  • Duration: 4 to 7 days
  • Suggested starting point: Guilin city
  • Transportation: Bullet trains are suggested from Guangzhou. Flights are more comfortable from Beijing and Shanghai.

The warmer Guilin climate is a good choice to escape China’s coldness in winter. For outdoor lovers, hiking along the rivers, discovering rustic charm by sidecar motorcycle, and rock climbing may be your highlights in Guilin. Our exclusive cave-exploring activity is extremely popular. Enter a WILD undeveloped cave, fast-rope down the “abyss” and zip-trek across an underground river. Your cool cave pictures will make your friends jealous.

You might also explore the classic landscape spectacles with Li River cruise. Or stay at a boutique hotel along the river to slow down and find your inner peace.

Recommended tours:

5. Zhangjiajie for a Winter Wonderland

ZhangjiajieZhangjiajie
  • Suitable for: all ages, families with kids
  • Duration: 4 to 7 days
  • Suggested starting point: Zhangjiajie, Changsha 
  • Transportation: Bullet trains are suggested from Guangzhou. Flights are time-saving from Beijing and Shanghai.

In winter, Chinese people are always keen to go skiing or sunbathe on tropical beaches. So Zhangjiajie, famous for its towering pillars and mountains, is far from crowded at Chinese New Year. Snow may make Zhangjiajie a fairytale world with snow-covered trails, gorgeous rime, and majestic snow-capped pillars. Time seems to stop still in the wild Zhangjiajie winters.

Want some exciting activities? Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon and its glass bridge will never disappoint you. China’s highest bungee jump (260 meters) will show you Zhangjiajie from a different perspective.  

Recommended tours:

6. Wuyishan: Away from Concrete Jungles and into the Mysterious Mountains

Wuyishan Wuyishan
  • Suitable for: all ages
  • Duration: 2 to 4 days
  • Suggested starting point: Wuyishan, or Xiamen
  • Transportation: Bullet trains are suggested from Shanghai (3 hours). Flights are time-saving from Beijing and Guangzhou.

Explore extraordinary mountains featuring Danxia (red sandstone) landforms, romantic streams, and mysterious Taoist temples hidden among the peaks of Wuyishan. The walk to Tianyou Peak allows you to see an unexpected and picturesque landscape. Bamboo rafting on 9-Bend Stream should not be missed in the early morning when the mist winds over the stream.   

Alongside natural beauty, Wuyishan is home to high-end Da Hong Pao tea. Order a cup of tea at traditional Xiameili village, taste its unique cliff soil aroma, and feel the slow pace of local life.

Recommended tour:

7. Dunhuang: Mogao Caves and Silk Road Scenes

Mogao GrottoesMogao Grottoes
  • Suitable for: all ages, history buffs
  • Duration: 2 to 4 days
  • Suggested starting point: Lanzhou
  • Transportation: Flights are time-saving from Lanzhou, Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai.

The Mogao Grottoes (one of the most important Buddhist art relics in the world) and charming desert landscapes make Dunhuang in northwest China the ultimate place to visit for a Silk Road tour. Book a ticket for the Mogao Grottoes, have a date with the oriental Mona Lisa, appreciate the exquisite Flying Apsaras, and listen to the stories behind the caves and their patrons. 

Yadang National Geological Park, the Singing Sand Mountains, and Crescent Moon Spring are natural masterpieces

Traveling in the off-peak season, you can also have the best hotel choices at lower prices.

Recommended tour:

8. Chengdu: Get Closer to the Pandas with a Volunteer Program

Feeding pandaFeeding panda
  • Suitable for: 10–70 year olds
  • Duration: 1 to 4 days
  • Suggested starting point: Chengdu
  • Transportation: Flights are recommended from Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou.

Dujiangyan Panda Base and, further from ChengduWolong Panda Base (home to wild pandas) are praised for their less-crowded panda experiences. Joining a volunteer program would offer you the chance to clean the enclosure, prepare food, and feed the pandas. Taking you to the non-touristy parts of the panda bases, panda keeper programs get you away from the noise of crowds of onlookers.

Pandas love winter, when the low temperatures make them more active. Instead of sleeping inside their huts, they prefer playing outside as long as possible.

Booking in advance is required due to limited availability.

Recommended tours:

9. Ningxia (Zhongwei): Desert Fun and Wine Tasting

Desert Star HotelDesert Star Hotel
  • Suitable for: all ages, families with kids
  • Duration: 3 days
  • Suggested starting point: Zhongwei or Yinchuan
  • Transportation: Flights are recommended from Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou.

Ningxia is a perfect getaway, as it is certainly a less-visited destination, especially in winter. Desert Star Hotel is highly commended for its activities for families with kids. Situated deep in the desert, kids can enjoy themselves with dune bashing, sand sledding, and camel trekking. Star-gazing in the wide and perfect desert darkness could also be an unforgettable memory for your kids.

As one of the most important wine zones in China, tasting wine is a must in Ningxia. Choose one of the local wineries and enjoy its vintages with a resident wine expert while overlooking the vineyard at sunset.

Recommended tour:

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