Travel during China national week?

Jul 24th, 2014, 12:48 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 53
Travel during China national week?

Hi everyone,

We are looking at booking a tour through China, and the only time I can get off work coincides with China national week in October.

Our tour starts September 29, and is as follows:

Yangshou October 1-3
Yichang October 4-6
Xi'an October 7-9
Shanghai October 10-12
Beijing October 13-17

Does anyone have any experience travelling through these places at this time? The tour agency seemed to think it would be fine because we'll be spending the busiest time period away from Beijing/Shanghai, but I'm not convinced!

Thanks in advance!
JessieMJ is offline  
Jul 24th, 2014, 04:36 AM
Join Date: Feb 2004
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Don't do it. All the scenic spots are swamped with domestic tourists. Very unpleasant.
rkkwan is offline  
Jul 24th, 2014, 08:10 AM
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 394
Travelling on a tour overcomes the logistical difficulties of travelling at that time of year (although these can also be avoided by independent travellers with a bit of careful timing). Beijing and Shanghai are actually easier to get around during the holiday period, as more leave than arrive, but you'll be there after it's all over anyway, although your into convention season.

Chinese tourists who stay in China tend to head either for the big-name cities or for resort areas.
You can expect Yangshuo (note spelling) to be very busy, but then it's about as authentically Chinese as I am, and a zoo all year round. Enjoy your pizza. Yichang has little to offer so it's hard to understand why you'd spend three nights there. The dam is just a concrete wall across the river, usually disappearing into the pollution. The crowds should be dropping off by the time you reach Xi'an.

There are many reasons for not taking tours, and this one in particular, but the timing is only a minor one.
temppeternh is offline  
Jul 24th, 2014, 08:00 PM
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All these places i the first week will be so busy that you'll regret it. Just look at some photos:
Any Chinese with enough money leaves the country to vacation overseas.
JPDeM is offline  
Jul 27th, 2014, 05:55 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 53
Thanks for your advice everyone!

It does sound like it's best to choose somewhere else. Unfortunately in my job I have only a certain period when I can take leave, and I was really hoping we could make China work! Something for next year I think

tempperternh - we usually avoid tours at all costs, but were told it's best to take one in China. If you think it's easy to travel independently we would definitely choose to do so.
JessieMJ is offline  
Jul 28th, 2014, 08:18 AM
Join Date: Oct 2010
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Uncountable numbers of people without two words of Mandarin to rub together travel independently and unplanned through China every single year. Beijing without Mandarin is little more difficult than Paris without French, unless there's a determination to make it so.

The purpose of the Chinese tourism industry is to take as much money as possible from you in covert ways while providing as little as possible in return, and to tell you whatever pleases you and is politically on-message. The truths of history and culture are irrelevant to it.

Some people prefer tours, but if you don't, then China is the last place you should be taking one, as you get all the disadvantages and few of the benefits. Independent travel permits a far more interesting itinerary, better quality information, and only requires a little common sense.
temppeternh is offline  
Jul 28th, 2014, 05:03 PM
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 21,362
I can attest to temppeternh's comments on independent travel in China -- I spent a month in northern China in 2010, independent and solo, and had a wonderful trip. There were some challenges, but nothing that couldn't be managed.
kja is offline  
Jul 29th, 2014, 11:16 PM
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Posts: 53
Thanks - great to hear that advice! We definitely are much happier doing and planning our own thing, so we will look at travelling independently and going in a less busy time. Perhaps April 2015? Nice to have something to look forward to!
JessieMJ is offline  
Jul 29th, 2014, 11:27 PM
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 394
Often slightly better air at that time of year, too. But complete your travel and be out of the country by May 1st.
temppeternh is offline  
Aug 16th, 2014, 10:16 AM
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 15
So I have actually traveled in China during and around National Week. The week before is great. Hardly any tourists and the weather is wonderful. Things sort of pick up a day or two before, but honestly not much until everyone gets off work on the day before Oct. 1. Travel was crazy. Your schedule is doable because you will not be in Beijing on Oct. 1.

I actually took an overnight train on Sept. 30 from Xi'an to Nanjing. The train station in Xi'an was insane. Absolutely unbelievable. But we were also totally fine, because we ordered our tickets through a reputable agency (although the website looked sketchy) and our tickets were at our hotel when I got to Beijing. We skipped the insane line of people trying to buy tickets. You will need to buy well in advance to guarantee travel during that period.

I share everyone's concerns about Yangshou on Oct. 1. A big city like Shanghai is actually better then because there are fewer people. I found the whole thing a "Travel during National Week is insane" thing to be a little overblown to be honest, and it was exciting to see the world's second largest annual migration of people.
interestedparty is offline  
Aug 20th, 2014, 03:50 AM
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 464
If that is your travel time slot and you want to go the china, Y not? Every day china has more than a billion folks and it's always crowded. Golden week can be troublesome but that's the experience. I suspect that the new fast trains will lessen some of the trouble to you. My suggestion: choose beijing or shanghai and branch out from there day by day. Nanjing, or up the coast to LuanYungGang or down to Xiamen. No one sees it all, even in a lifetime. Don't fret, get some tix and enjoy. Esp along the east coast ample english is spoken for you to get around.
jobin is online now  
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