China Tour Planning: Dates to Avoid

When planning a trip to China, you should consider that there are over 1.39 billion people living in the country. During national holidays and events, such as the Chinese New Year and National Day week, there are many people who either leave their home to travel or return to their family. This can lead to overcrowding in train stations and airports, as well as major tourist attractions, like Forbidden City, causing unfairly increased prices.

Follow our expert guide for more information on China’s peak season with specific dates and places to avoid for China tours. Make sure your China trip is as smooth and enjoyable as possible. Besides, the cost of travel will not be increased.

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Holidays with Dates to avoid on China tours

The following dates are considered the worse time to visit China, nevertheless, the some of the festivals themselves may provide unique cultural experience in China.

Festivals & Holidays Dates  DaysCrowded/overcrowded Travel Cost 
New YearJan 1-33 daysCrowdedNormal price
Chinese Lunar New Yearusually late January to middle February7 daysOvercrowdedIncreased a lot
Tomb-Sweeping DayApr.4-53 daysCrowdedNormal price
May DayMay 1-3/53 - 5 daysOvercrowdedNormal price / Increased a lot
Dragon Boat Festival Usually around middle June3 daysCrowdedNormal price
Mid-Autumn Festival Usually late September or early October1-3 daysCrowdedNormal price
National DayOct.1-77 daysOvercrowdedIncreased a lot

National Day (October 1-7)

Avoid traveling in China during National Date holiday

Dates: October 1-7

Summary: Definitely Avoid

Public Transportation: Overcrowded

Tourism Sites: Overcrowded

Price of Travel: Highly increased prices for lodging and flights

Bullet train Tickets: prices are steady, but very difficult to purchase tickets

Make sure to avoid this 7-day national Chinese holiday if possible! It is definitely the worst time to travel to China. Countless Chinese families choose this time to travel around the country, leading to overcrowding in nearly all tourist attractions and public transportation stations. In addition, the more convenient high-speed train tickets to the major cities such as Beijing and Shanghai are easily sold out. For the hotels and tickets still available, prices are highly increased to reflect this very crowded time.

Tips for traveling during National Day

1. If you happen to be travelling during National Day week, we still have some tips that could help you. The peak times for Chinese travel groups is usually in the early morning. By avoiding this time and the travel groups, you can save up to an hour of waiting time at most restaurants and tourist attractions.

2. Quieter areas of west China, such as the Guizhou and the Silk Road including Xinjiang & Gansu, are still reasonable in terms of crowding and prices and you may want to consider touring those areas rather than the larger cities.

3. To avoid price increases, finalize all hotel bookings and flight tickets long before the price increases take place.

Chinese New Year (Spring Festival)

temple fair during Chinese New Year, a worst time to visit China

Dates: from Lunar New Year's Eve to the 7th day of the first lunar month (usually late January to middle February)

Summary: possible Avoid

Public Transportation: Overcrowded

Tourism Sites: crowded

Price of Travel: a bit increased prices for lodging, and highly increased for tour guide and flights

Bullet train Tickets: prices are steady, but very difficult to purchase tickets

Spring Festival is the most important festival for Chinese family reunion, and now gradually becomes a holiday for traveling with family. During the Chinese New Year, all forms of transportations are heavily overcrowded as people rush to buy tickets and travel home to spend the celebrations with their families. This rush period usually occurs two weeks before the festival date, and roughly three weeks after for a total period of about 40 days.

Reason to travel during Chinese New Year

Although the crowded transportation is a reason to avoid these dates, it is also the best time for travelers to experience the traditional festivities and celebrations that only happen during the Chinese New Year. Throughout many cities, there are unique fairs and performances that celebrate the traditional culture of the residents and the nation.

Tips for traveling during Chinese Lunar New Year

1. If you need to travel between cities during your trip, the best time to do so is during the 4 or 5 days after the festival begins. From January 24 – 30, 2020, the majority of Chinese families will stay at home to celebrate with family, leaving travelers with less crowded situations as well as cheaper and more available tickets, especially by plane.

2. Recommended things to do & what to see during Chinese Lunar New Year: 

  • Beijing Temple Fair, introducing various forms of traditional Chinese culture, arts, handicraft, and street foods 
  • Guizhou Lunar New Year Festival Tour, to the minority areas of China, and enjoy Tiaohua Festival of Long Horn Miao, Fire-dragon Festival, Lusheng Music Festival, and authentic family homestay 
  • Harbin Ice Festival, from Jan 5 to Feb 5, yet with snow sculptures and ice activities lasts until early March 
  • Flower market in Hong Kong and Guangdong province
  • May Day (Labor Day)

    West Lake is one of the places to avoid visiting during May Day

    Dates: May 1-3/5

    Summary: possible Avoid

    Public Transportation: crowded/overcrowded

    Tourism Sites: crowded/overcrowded

    Price of Travel: normal price for 3 days off, and probably highly increased for 5 days off

    Bullet train Tickets: prices are steady, but very difficult to purchase tickets

    In China, there may be 3 days off or 5 days off for Labor Day. If it is 3-day holiday, some Chinese may go traveling, while many other will choose stay at home or visit the suburbs or nearby places. If it is 5-day long-period holiday, the majority of Chinese may travel to other cities, causing traffic gams, increase in travel cost, and therefore making it a worst time to visit China for foreign travelers.

    Other Holidays and Dates to Avoid Traveling to China 2021 

    - New Year: Jan 1-5, 2021

    - Tomb Tomb-Sweeping Day (Qingming Festival): Apr. 3 – 5, 2021

    - The Dragon Boat Festival: Jun. 12 - 14, 2021

    - The Mid-Autumn Festival: Sept. 19 - 21, 2021

    The above three days holidays/festivals are celebrated national wide in China. Avoid traveling to China during these dates if possible, as they may cause heavy traffic, crowds at the attractions, and price increase for your China tour. However, if don’t care about the crowds, want keen to experience the traditional festival celebration in China. you may still travel to China during these periods.

    Tibet Closed from February to March

    Don’t plan your trip to Tibet on February or March, as the whole area is likely to closed to foreign visitors when the local people are celebrating the Tibetan New Year. You may consult with our the travel consult at ETC for further information.

    Places to Avoid on your China Tours during the Holidays/Dates Above

    After talking about dates to avoid for your China tours, further understand the places that are likely to get overcrowded these the public holidays you should avoid visiting. Instead, travel to the quieter and no crowded places in China if possible.

    ■ The Forbidden City, Beijing

    ■ The Badaling Great Wall, Beijing, but the Mustianyu is less crowded, while Jinshanling or Simatai even better

    ■ The West Lake, Hangzhou, where you can expect the scene of seas of people

    ■ Yellow Mountain, Huangshan – people are seen all over the mountain and its peaks, and you may have to queue up for two or three hours 

    Lijiang Old Town, but you can visit the Baisha or Shuhe old town instead, and the nearby natural areas

    Guilin -- all of the hotels will be over booked, and you see tourists everywhere


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