Home China Train China Guide The Spring Festival Travel Rush Season in China

The Spring Festival Travel Rush Season in China

The Spring Festival travel rush season, or Chinese New Year travel rush, called Chunyun (春运) in Chinese, is the world's largest annual human migration. It is usually in the period that falls half a month before and after the Spring Festival. During this time, hundreds of millions of Chinese people travel to their hometowns for the holiday, creating enormous pressure on China's transportation systems.

2019 Spring Festival Travel Rush

The Spring Festival holiday in 2019 is from February 4th to 10th. The Spring Festival travel rush in 2019 begins on January 21st and ends on March 1st, lasting for 40 days. Railway travel is the most popular mode of transportation among Chinese people.

During the Spring Festival travel rush season in 2018, about 382 million people traveled by train. It is estimated that more than 400 million people will travel by train during the Chinese New Year travel rush in 2019.

Tips for Train Travel During the Spring Festival Travel Rush Season

Book Your Tickets as Early as Possible

high passenger flow during the travel rush, China Train Crowded waiting hall during the Spring Festival travel rush

If you plan to travel by train during the Spring Festival travel rush, it is recommended that you book your train tickets with a travel agency as early as possible.

China Railway opens its ticket reservations 30 days before departure but you can book tickets more than 30 days in advance with a travel agency. They will hold your bookings and purchase tickets on your behalf as soon as the tickets are released, increasing the success rate of ticket purchases.

If you book your train tickets online with China Highlights, please also write any special requirements you have in the special request column. By fully understanding your requirements, we can book your tickets accordingly and as efficiently as possible.

However, we cannot 100% guarantee that we will be successful in purchasing tickets for travel during the busy Spring Festival period. This time of year is a bit of a lottery as millions of people rush to buy tickets online or by telephone when the ticket reservation offices open. China is a country with a very large population and more people than you can imagine choose to go home by train.

Which Train Type and Seat Class to Choose

The high-speed G and D trains are recommended due to their comfort, stability, modern and punctuality. On a high-speed train, second class is the most popular for the majority of passengers and it is also the most cost-efficient.

However, during the travel rush, second-class cars can be noisy. If you prefer more privacy and a high-quality travel experience, and have enough in your budget, first class and business class are better choices.

If you choose an ordinary train, you are highly advised to choose soft or hard sleepers rather than seats during the crowded Spring Festival.

Standing tickets are available on high-speed trains as well as ordinary ones during the Spring Festival. The number of standing tickets is limited to 7% of the total seating capacity on high-speed trains. Passengers with standing tickets on these trains are only allowed to stand in the second-class areas, and are not allowed to go into the business-class areas. The number of standing tickets is not strictly limited for the ordinary trains — standing-ticket passengers can stand in the aisles and even in the toilets during the Spring Festival season.

Ticket Collection

high passenger flow in a ticket office Long queues in front of ticket counters

You are highly recommended to have your tickets delivered (for example, to your hotel), for convenience. If you don’t get your tickets mailed, you are advised to collect them at the railway station ticket window a few hours before departure, as the queues can be very long.

Get to the Station Early

It is advisable to arrive at the railway station at least 2 hours before departure to allow for the long queues at the ticket counter, the security checks, and the ticket checks during the Spring Festival travel rush season.

Keep an Eye on Your Luggage

The train station is extremely busy during the Spring Festival travel rush. Keep an eye on your belongings at all times. Pack valuable things, such as your purse, camera, iPad, and cell phone, in your handbag instead of your suitcase, and carry your handbag with you everywhere.

After getting on the train, put your luggage where you can see it from your seat. You can put your bags on the luggage rack above your seat or underneath your seat or berth.

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