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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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    5.020 Reviews
    Mr. Joshua
    Australia
    Posted on May. 28, 2019
    Hello, I thought your booking service was very good. It started well with great communication through the booking process that was easy, payment was secure via paypal and then delivery of tickets to the hotel was superb. Literally rocked up to the hotel and they presented myself with a package of tickets straight up which was a relief. It was run so well that there was nothing to really comment about.

    I thought the journey was very good, the train left at 22.00, so it was overnight. I had a soft sleeper and was in the top bunk. This may be a hassle for unfit people or fat people, being fit though it was no problem getting up. The bunk itself was very nice to sleep in and managed to get a full 8 hours which was great. Boarding might have been the biggest worry, just getting on, there wasn't much English in the stations. Found the waiting room though using some street smarts and once getting on, it was full steam ahead. The conductors in the rail hall though were all very nice and using hand signals we manage to get the job done. A massive crowd also helps to follow.

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    ...More
    Ms.Monika
    Poland
    Posted on May. 19, 2019
    My experience was very good. The tickets arrived on time. It was very easy to navigate at the stations and we didn't have any problems.

    I would recommend everyone to travel by train in China and using your booking service.

    The only suggestion would be to make sure that the currier service can speak English as we had little problem with receiving our tickets because of the currier's misunderstanding.
    Mr.David
    France
    Posted on May. 07, 2019
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    Mrs.Barger
    USA
    Posted on Apr. 18, 2019
    We were very pleased with your service! Our train tickets were waiting for us at our hotel as promised, and we had absolutely no issues. I will definitely use your service on my next trip to China! Thank you for everything.
    Mr.Christian
    USA
    Posted on Apr. 09, 2019
    My experience was excellent. I loved that I could use paypal for the transaction. The service was very prompt and easy. I'd say it's the best experience I've had buying train tickets in China. I will definitely use your service again. Thanks!
    Mr.Schmidt
    Mexico
    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.
    Ms.Winnett
    USA
    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
    Mr.Soukup
    Germany
    Posted on Mar. 08, 2019
    Everything was fine during my trip to Jinan and Beijing. Thanks for your support!
    Mrs.Diana
    Romania
    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.
    Ms.Henny
    Indonesia
    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.
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