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Chunyun - Spring Festival Travel Rush in China

 The 2020 Chunyun is from January 10 to February 18, when train tickets will be under great demand. TravelChinaGuide recommends you to avoid traveling to China during the period or book the tickets as early as possible.
Spring Festival Transport Peak
 See Video of Spring Festival Travel

What is Chunyun? 

Chunyun, also known as Chinese New Year Migration, Spring Festival Travel Rush, Chinese New Year Travel Rush, Lunar New Year Travel Rush is the largest human migration on earth happening annually. It usually begins 15 days ahead of the Chinese New Year and 25 days after, lasting for 40 days. The Chunyun 2020 lasts from January 10 to February 18. During the Spring Festival Rush, China, especially its railway system, faces an extremely high traffic load, which results in great difficulties to obtain a ticket, crowded railway stations and train carriages…  

 2019 / 2020 / 2021 China Public Holiday Calendar for your reference

What are the reasons of Chinese New Year Migration? 

Millions of people working or studying out of their hometowns will be hurrying home to reunite with families as the Chinese New Year (Spring Festival) approaches. This long-held tradition is the main reason for the rush. The other is that the holiday is one of the two week-long holidays of the year, a perfect travel time for many people.

Traveling by Train during Spring Festival Travel Rush

Try not to travel by train during the Chinese New Year Festival. If have to, below are some tips for you to avoid troubles:

Buy tickets as early as possible

If your China tour is happen to be arranged during the Chinese Lunar New Year, you had better make early plan and contact a travel agency or ticket agency to book ticket for you.

To book the ticket on your own, you have to be in China, know some Chinese, and also have a Chinese bank card that supports online payment if booking through internet. Now a ticket can be bought through internet and telephone 30 days in advance and 28 days prior to departure at stations or some ticket windows in towns and cities; due to adoption of real-name ticket policy and identity verification, some ticket outlets in downtown are unable to issue tickets for foreign/ Hong Kong/ Macau/ Taiwan passengers. For detailed methods of booking a ticket, read How to Buy Tickets and How to Buy Tickets Online.

Please note that if you book through internet, you just need to pick up your ticket before departure at stations by showing your valid ID certificate, usually passport. During the Spring Festival Rush, there are more chances to get a ticket through internet than purchasing at stations or ticket windows.

Spring Festival Travel Rush in China

Reach the station at least 1.5 hours prior for boarding process

During the Chinese New Year Travel Rush, the steps of taking a train will take longer time as everywhere of railway stations are crowded with people, so you are advised to get to the station at least 1.5 hours prior to departure. Most stations will set temporary waiting rooms outside of station halls and air-condition and heat are not available, so remember to wear warm clothes as most cities in China are cold during Spring Festival.

Travel light & take care of your luggage

Avoid taking heavy luggage as it will be inconvenient for you waiting in lines to enter the station hall, check in, and get onboard. Also, take good care of your luggage when you are in the crowd. After you get into your carriage, keep your luggage in sight or put it under your lower berth, and try not to expose your personal information to strangers. 

Upon arrival, get to your hotel by official transport

Do no throw away your ticket after arriving at your destination, as the ticket carries your personal information. When you get out of a station, ignore the “kind-hearted” venders and take official taxies or buses to your hotel.

Long Queue for Buying Tickets at a Bus Station
Long Queues in the Booking Office
Crowded Waiting Hall of Xi'an Railway Station
Crowded Waiting Hall of Xi'an Railway Station

Railway Passenger Figures during Chunyun

Year Passengers Volume (million) Growth (%)
2019 (January 21st - March 1st) 410  7.4
2018 (February 1st - March 12th) 382 6.8
2017 (January 13th - February 21st) 357 10.1
2016 (January 24th - March 3rd) 325 10.2
2015 (February 4th - March 15th) 295  10.4
2014 (January 16th - February 24th) 266 12
2013 (January 26th - March 6th) 240 12.1

 Further Reading:
    Train Travel in China during Holidays
    Passenger Rail Transport in China
    China Train Travel - A Beginner’s Guide

- Last modified on Mar. 15, 2019 -
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    Posted on Mar. 29, 2019
    Excellent service, I had little time to get to the station so it was very helpful having all this right at hand. Everything with my two tickets you kindly organized for me was fine, train perfect also.
    Posted on Mar. 21, 2019
    I would like to say I would be happy to use these services again for future travel, and also to refer my friends.
    The train trip from Chongqing to Yueyang started out with some confusion because I didn't know which station I was departing from. I started out at Longtousi, but was re-directed to CQ Bei. The departure station wasn't written in English on the ticket. The train ride was relaxing and enjoyable. I definitely recommend traveling by train whenever possible. The train was almost 2 hours late arriving in YueYang, which I didn't know until another passenger told me. My hosts in Yueyang explained that this is not an uncommon occurrence. It would be good for travelers to be aware of this, in case they are trying to connect with another transportation service. The bullet train from Yueyang to Shanghai was very easy for a foreigner to take, and the Hongqiao station in Shanghai was easy to navigate, as well as to take the subway. As a foreigner traveling in your beautiful country, I appreciate your service when scheduling my travels!...More
    Posted on Mar. 08, 2019
    Everything was fine during my trip to Jinan and Beijing. Thanks for your support!
    Posted on Mar. 01, 2019
    Without your agency support for ticket purchasing, it would have been a lot more difficult to manage it at the train station.
    I highly recommend all foreigners travelling to China, who plan to travel by train, to purchase the train tickets in advance. It saves a lot of time, it is easy and straight forward. You and team did a great job, thank you.
    Posted on Feb. 22, 2019
    I was very happy with the booking procedure you provided. We need to booked many many trains ride and your end did it without any mistakes. Everything is as instructed, which make it very easy for the booking. Mostly appreciated that your end actually really help us choose the seating position on each train as we prefered it. it makes a huge different in our travel. And ticket is deliverd very quickly.
    Train ride was our favourite, its no hussle, comfortable and easy. Every train arrived and departed on time. Its easy to check in and find our train. High speed train have a very comfortable 2nd class seat, and soft sleeper train is very comfortable (we were blessed with good bunk mate as well in each of our train). Plus the view is great....More
    Posted on Feb. 09, 2019
    My experience with you was very good and I can only recommend your services. You were very responsive and helpful. I will be very happy to use your services again in the future. All the best!
    Posted on Feb. 03, 2019
    Overall, I am very happy with the procedures and communication that we had, during the booking. The Shanghai train facilities were very nice, while I was waiting. The instructions that were provided by TravelChinaGuide were very helpful in guiding me through the process at the station. The train ride was comfortable and the staff visited the car regularly to see if travelers required any refreshments.
    Again, I am very happy with the service and overall experience. Thank you for all of your help!
    Posted on Jan. 27, 2019
    I found that booking the tickets online was very easy to do. There are few ways for foreigners who don't speak Chinese to purchase tickets in advance so this is a very useful service. The train trips all went well also. We travelled during winter and all trains were nicely heated.
    Posted on Jan. 18, 2019
    We took the train from Beijing to Shanghai and back. The entire experience from booking to travel was extremely easy. The staff was quick and professional, when changes to the original trains I ordered came up the change was very simple. My tickets were waiting as promised at my hotel. The train station was easy to explore as a foreigner, as a foreigner the only advice I could give would be do not expect orderly lines to board the train.
    As far as booking the only thing I would change would be knowing the direction of the seats, upon our return trip we were seated in a beautiful car but opposite the train running direction. We gradually feel sick and had to find people in a lower class car to change seats. We will be returning next year with friends and will be taking the train again, we were very satisfied....More
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    Posted on Jan. 11, 2019
    Really satisfied with every aspect of the service and support received. Thank you!
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