China’s national holiday (国庆节 guo qing jie) is coming up, with seven days off from work from October 1st to 7th. The first marks the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, and more and more every year travel reigns as the national pasttime for this holiday. The internet is filled with nightmare stories and images of stone bridges and great walls overflowing with humanity. So what to do if you’re in Asia while 1.3 billion people are on holiday?
Here are some tips and ideas.
- Seek out secondary cities, and even in major tourist cities, escape the crowds by going to lesser known sites.
Most Chinese tourists travel in large tour groups, and for the most part visit locales designed to hold busloads of people. So, this is a case where the 80/20 rule can be applied – often 80 percent of the people are just in 20 percent of any given area in China. So, when you’re in Hangzhou, and find the east bank of West Lake swimming with people, get yourself to the west banks with its private gardens, a nearby mountain, or a quiet tea village.
2. Relax and have a sense of humor.
The crowds may be maddening, but everyone’s out to have fun. Relax, find humor in the craziness, chat with other tourists. Chinese people, especially on vacation and especially with foreigners, are incredibly friendly and charming.
3. Don’t go to Beijing.
For your sanity’s sake, just don’t go to Beijing during the October National Holiday.
4. Consider traveling abroad, but remember that Chinese international travel is skyrocketing.
It seems like everyone I know this year is going to Japan during this National Holiday. Other spots across Asia are becoming popular with Chinese tourists, including South Korea, Thailand, and Singapore.
5. Stay home.
Finally, you may decide to simply stay home. Shenzhen and other modern cities will clear out for seven days, so take these days to enjoy the city without traffic. Go to a park or museum you’ve never been to.
China Tea Leaves has spent two national days abroad, and one at home in Shenzhen. This year, we’ll be venturing to the farthest reach of Yunnan province. We hope to find quiet and beauty, and hope you can too, wherever your travels take you.