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National Day

Tiananmen Tower on Festival
Tiananmen Tower, Beijing on National Day
The word National Day, appeared in Chinese language as early as in the Western Jin Dynasty (265 - 316 AD). In ancient China, it usually fell on the day when the emperor ascended the throne or was born. Nowadays, it is celebrated on October 1st every year to commemorate the founding of People’s Republic of China. On that day, lots of large-scaled activities are held nationwide. Besides, the seven-day holiday from Oct. 1st to 7th is the so-called "Golden Week”, during which more and more Chinese people go traveling around the country. 

Origin

October 1st, 1949 was the memorial day for the founding of the People’s Republic of China. One thing should be noted is that the PRC was not founded on that day, but on September 21st, 1949. The grand ceremony held at Tiananmen Square on October 1st, 1949 was to celebrate the forming of the Central People's Government of the brand new country. Later on October 2nd, 1949, the new government passed the ‘Resolution on the National Day of the People's Republic of China’ and declared October 1 to be the National Day. Ever since 1950, every October 1st has been grandly celebrated by Chinese people.

Customs
 Military Review & Parade at Tiananmen Square
Altogether 14 military reviews have been held on October 1st since 1949. The most representative and influential ones include the military reviews on the founding ceremony, the 5th anniversary, 10th anniversary, 35th anniversary, 50th anniversary and 60th anniversary. Those impressive military reviews have attracted people from both home and abroad to watch. Following the military reviews are usually huge parades by common people to express their patriotic feelings. The Military Review & Parade is now held in a small scale every 5 years and in a large scale every 10 years.
Celebration on Tiananmen Square, Beijing
Celebration on Tiananmen Square, Beijing
    
Festooned Vehicle on Tiananmen Square
Festooned Vehicle

Other Celebration Activities
Other activities like flag-raising ceremonies, dance and song shows, firework displays and painting and calligraphy exhibitions are also held to celebrate the National Day. If one loves shopping, National Day is a great time, for many shopping malls offer big discounts during the holiday.

Holiday Schedule

The legal holiday for National Day is currently 3 days in mainland China, 2 days in Macau and 1 day in Hong Kong. In mainland, the 3-day is usually connected with the weekends ahead and after, hence people can enjoy a 7-day holiday from Oct. 1st to 7th, which is the well-known “Golden Week”. This is the longest public holiday in China besides the Spring Festival holiday. Falling in the autumn generally with clear weather and comfortable temperature, the holiday is a popular period for travel.

Travel Tips
During the Golden Week, lots of Chinese go traveling. It leads to a sea of people at attraction sites; train tickets difficult to get; flight tickets cost more than usual; and hotel rooms in short supply…
Bustling Nanjing Road on National Day
Bustling Nanjing Road, Shanghai
    
Crowded Railway Station during National Day Holiday
Crowded Railway Station during the Holiday

To make your travel in China easier and more comfortable, here are some tips for reference:
1. If possible, avoid traveling during the “Golden Week”. One can make it just before or after the “crowding period”. During those time periods, there are usually fewer tourists, the cost is comparatively lower, and the visit is more satisfying.
2. If one really needs to travel during the National Day holiday, try to avoid the first two days and the last day of the "Golden Week”. Because they are the busiest time for transportation system, when the flight tickets are highest and train and long-distance bus tickets are hardest to buy. Also, the first two days are usually the most crowded at the attraction sites, especially the famous ones.
3. Avoid hot destinations. These places are always crowded of visitors during the “Golden Week”. Choose some not so famous tourism cities and attractions, where there are fewer visitors and one can enjoy the scene more leisurely.
4. Book flight / train tickets and hotel rooms in advance. There may be more discounts for flight tickets if one books earlier. For trains in China, the tickets are available 20 days prior to departure. The thing is the train tickets may be booked up in minutes once available, so please be prepared. The hotel rooms in hot travel destinations are also in demand. In case there is no place to stay, one should better book them in advance too. If one happens to book rooms upon arrival, try your luck at some business hotels.  

Useful Booking Tools: China Flights              China Trains           China Hotels

 Further Reading:
 2014 / 2015 / 2016 China Public Holiday Calendar is available for you to know the schedule of all holidays in China and better make your travel plan.