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10 days in China during May 1st Holiday

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Jan 23rd, 2016, 05:02 PM
  #1
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Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 40
10 days in China during May 1st Holiday

Your help and suggestions please!

I booked an air ticket to Beijing from the 26th of April till the 6th of May. Unfortunately after my booking I heard that I should avoid this holiday period like the plague because of the huge crowds. So, what should I do to suffer the least and enjoy my stay there?
I have made no plans yet. But I want for sure to go to Xi'an for 2 days and vist the terracota army there.
I am thinking to:

1. Stay in Beijing and see all the sites (plus Great Wall) during the 27th, 28th and 29th of April with no crowds

2. Relax in Beijing during the first day of the Holiday (30th of April)

3. Take the train to Xi'an on May 1st because I suppose it will be less crowded to travel in the middle of the Holiday (all the people will travel in the afternoon of the 29th of April and the next day. Am I right?)

4. Go and see the terracota Army in the afternoon of May 2nd because all domestic tourists will be heading home during that time and the tourist site will be relatively calm (May the 3rd is working day, right?)

5. Return to Beijing in a crowd-free train in the evening of May 3

6. Enjoy my last days in Beijing or maybe take a trip to Datong to see the buddhist caves and stay one night there.

I don't know... what do u say? Is it manageable or am I dreaming? The truth is, I don't know anything about transport in China and I speak no chinese (only Nihao I am going to say all the time). Will I make it or I am going to be swept away by the crowds???

thank you so much!!!
spanos is offline  
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Jan 24th, 2016, 11:13 AM
  #2
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 348
Your general approach is sound, but don't expect it to be easy going. Until a few years ago there was a juggling with weekend working that produced seven days' holiday at this time of year, and while some of those days have now been redistributed, those with discretionary holiday still have a tendency to bolt a few days onto the official one. So still expect the train to be busy on May 1st, and it won't be possible to describe the May 3 return train as 'crowd-free'. Book the outbound ticket on your arrival in Beijing. You may also buy a return ticket for that route but the return allocation is limited. You may have to buy the return when in Xi'an (which was true for all railway journeys until a few years ago).

Yes, it will be crowded and busy. Yes, you can do this. See neighbouring post: 'Which website to check train availability & cost' for details.
temppeternh is offline  
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Jan 24th, 2016, 01:44 PM
  #3
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 17,157
You do not need to speak Chinese to enjoy traveling in China. Get a good phrase book that has sections ordered alphabetically in English (so you can find things) and in Mandarin (so people there can find things). You might also get a copy of "Me No Speak."
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Jan 25th, 2016, 10:55 AM
  #4
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Join Date: Jul 2010
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Thank you for your encouraging replies.
I would like to ask you what is the best time to visit the most popular sites during the holiday period... If I go there very early in the morning (maybe half an hour before they open) will I still have to wait at the queues?

I read the 'Which website to check train availability & cost' answer and it was very enlightening, but don't you think it will be to late to find a train ticket 4 days before the labour day holiday?
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Jan 25th, 2016, 05:39 PM
  #5
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
Posts: 186
The Beijing-Xi'An train route is rather popular and this is one place where I would book my train tickets ahead.
The May 1st holiday is not as bad as it used to be when it was a "Golden Week". Tourism tends to be local. I was in China on May 1st in the last few years (not in Beijing though) and found that it was impossible to go anywhere. Way too many people. We spent all our time driving around and finally headed back home for dinner after wasting a day.
An early morning start is definitely a must since you have no choice. Some places like the Temple of Heaven open very early (the park portion for people watching, not the temple portion).
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