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Travelling in China on/about 1 OCT?

Travelling in China on/about 1 OCT?

Old Aug 5, 06, 3:40 pm
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Travelling in China on/about 1 OCT?

I have planned a trip to PRC in late SEPT and early OCT. However, from my guide book I have learned that 1 OCT is National Day in PRC and Chinese have a week off. I assume such holiday to be 1-8 OCT.

I expect to travel between BJS-XIAN-Chengdu-SHA on/around 1 OCT but I'm concerned that all flights/trains/buses and hotels will be full due to the holiday. I assume that many Chinese will be travelling to visit family in the country side or going to BJS as tourists. I have a flexible flight ticket to/from BJS, so now I'm considering to move the trip to mid OCT to avoid the National Day. Should I do so??

Thanks.
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Old Aug 5, 06, 6:10 pm
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If you can move your trip to avoid the holiday I would recommend it. There are three main holiday weeks in China and this is one of them. This means that most of the population is on the move. Planes, and especially trains and buses will be full and parks and tourist sites extra crowded. It can be done but I would say that if you can avoid it do so.
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Old Aug 5, 06, 6:49 pm
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The Spring Festival period, when it is indeed fair to say almost the entire country is on the move, is different from the week-long May and October holidays. The Spring Festival travel period lasts far longer than a week, and is the time when everyone in China tries to get back to be together with family. The May and October travel periods last for less than a week for most, and are for those who can afford discretionary travel, leading to a very different pattern of travel overall. In theory, the three-day holiday has had one nearby weekend moved to replace the other two weekdays, so everyone is supposed to work the weekend to make up, then have seven days off--five working days and one weekend. In fact many will have both weekends.

It's in the larger cities that most people with the discretionary income for travel are found, and overall Beijing and Shanghai, for instance tend to become quieter over the May and October holidays. The atmosphere notably clears as polluting enterprises shut down, and the traffic lightens dramatically, making it much easier to get around. (In addition, in some cases, the vehicles belonging to state-owned enterprises are ordered off the city streets for the duration.) It's usually not difficult to get an upmarket hotel room during these periods as those coming into the city are mostly from poorer areas and are in many cases going to sleep in the subways. If you've got real money you go to Hong Kong, to somewhere that's a 'scenic spot', or overseas.

Museums and historic sites within these cities tend to be busy but not impossibly so. Destinations that are primarily 'scenic spots' or resorts tend to be very busy indeed, and hotel rooms can indeed by harder to come by.

As for getting around, at the beginning of the holiday and at the end, obtaining a ticket can be tiresome and expensive. But in the middle deep discounts on air tickets are still available. So the trick is to be in one place before it all gets going, stay until it has started, move on, stop moving while it's coming to an end, and carry on again after that.

In short, it's better to travel at a different time of year if possible, but travel during the May and October holidays is far from impossible, and even has its pluses if you will be staying in big cities.

Peter N-H
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Old Aug 8, 06, 8:27 pm
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Be aware the Chinese Grand Prix is in Shanghai Sep 29 - Oct 1. It is a great time to be in Shanghai, but everyrhing will be even more crowded and if you haven't already made hotel reservations you find them difficult to get around this time, at least at the better properties. All the hotels mark up the rates significantly while the F1 crowd is in town, too.
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Old Aug 8, 06, 9:25 pm
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It's generally a bit of a bugger traelling during the holiday periods - but not impossible. Things tend to be either abnormally busy, or abnormally quiet. And, truthfully, it can be difficult to predict what will be what.

If you can change the time of your visit do. If you can't don't worry - you'll end up paying more for some things and less for others. But it should even itself out.

Personally I've found the May holiday to be far worse- I have less than fond memories of rolling up at the local bus station to find it a true seething mass of humanity. And the airport was no better - albeit I did manage to get the very last seat on a flight going in the right direction so it wasn't all bad.
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Old Aug 8, 06, 10:00 pm
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Originally Posted by Peter N-H
It's in the larger cities that most people with the discretionary income for travel are found, and overall Beijing and Shanghai, for instance tend to become quieter over the May and October holidays.
I agree that those with coin do a pretty good job at leaving, but it's worth noting that they are replaced, at least to an extent, with droves of Mao-loving peasents that wish to take part in the hoop-la.

I mistakenly stayed in SH during one of the anniversary National Days a few years back; while restaurants and shops were quiet and calm, the streets sure weren't. Just getting to the subway station in Lujiazui was a challenging endeavor. I can only imagine what Tiananmen is like then.
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Old Aug 9, 06, 12:36 am
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Originally Posted by moondog
I agree that those with coin do a pretty good job at leaving, but it's worth noting that they are replaced, at least to an extent, with droves of Mao-loving peasents that wish to take part in the hoop-la.

I mistakenly stayed in SH during one of the anniversary National Days a few years back; while restaurants and shops were quiet and calm, the streets sure weren't. Just getting to the subway station in Lujiazui was a challenging endeavor. I can only imagine what Tiananmen is like then.
Haven't we both just said more or less the same thing?

I've walked to Lujiazui metro on October 1st, and to be sure it's a bit of a bun fight, but nevertheless you can walk freely to the station and get on. The Bund--anything in fact that's free--is thronged, but here and Lujiazui don't by any means represent the whole of Shanghai, which in general it's easier and much quicker to get around than usual. The sites with entrance fees aren't quiet, but they aren't packed out either. Walking back to the hotel at night there were peasants sleeping in the underpass and on benches on the Pudong side.

I've been in Beijing on October 1st and May 1st and found much the same thing. Those who haven't left town are shopping in the sales, not thronging the big sights, and the traffic is dramatically lighter, as is the pollution.

So although there are some disadvantages, these are often overstated, and there are some benefits of being in the big cities. The resorts, however, and the 'scenic spots' that are entirely tourism destinations are packed out with city folk who can afford to go there. Heading for Putuo Shan, or Lu Shan, or Huang Shan, or most of Yunnan, for instance, would be a mistake.

However, as far as Shanghai goes atldave made an important point. I'd forgotten about the F1 dates this year, and indeed they'll likely make up-market hotel rooms very hard to come by at a time when they used to be easier to find than the following week. If they dates stay as they are for succeeding years, I'd write off Shanghai for the October week (unless, of course, you want to see the Grand Prix).

For now, once the whole thing has got going, travel around the country is as easy as at low season, until the last couple of days of the holiday clogs things up again.

Peter N-H
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