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Spring Festival Travel Rush in China

 The 2019 Spring Festival Travel Rush is from January 21 to March 1, 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 Spring Festival Travel Rush? 

The Spring Festival Travel Rush, also known as Chunyun and Chunyun Migration in Chinese, or 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 2019 lasts from January 21 to March 1. 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 Chunyun? 

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 Spring 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 Spring Festival Rush

Year Passengers Volume (million) Growth (%)
2019 (January 21st - March 1st) 413 (prediction) 8.3
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 Jan. 02, 2019 -
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    5.07 Reviews
    Ms.Asquith
    USA
    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
    Ms.GAYLE
    United Kingdom
    Posted on Jan. 11, 2019
    Really satisfied with every aspect of the service and support received. Thank you!
    Mr. BROWER
    USA
    Posted on Jan. 05, 2019
    I had a great experience with Travel China Guide. I don’t have any complaints about your service. My only advice to other travelers is to get to the train station early to make sure you can find the area to pick up your tickets. I was running late because my bus got stuck in traffic, and it was very hard to figure out where to go since I don’t speak Chinese. If you don’t have a Chinese ID card you can’t use the self-service kiosks, and the booths near the kiosks are closed in the evening.
    Mr. MARTINO
    Spain
    Posted on Dec. 26, 2018
    All was perfect. To make the boarding faster and easier, you should consider about e ticket like air-ticket. It would be great to be able to receive the ticket on the mobile phone, maybe via an application.
    Mr.GILAD
    Israel
    Posted on Dec. 14, 2018
    As before your service proved to be excellent and highly reliable.
    I ordered train tickets and asked them to be waiting for me at the hotel reception. Three days before my arrival I received a tracking number for the tickets delivery. When I arrived to the hotel the tickets were waiting for me as promised.
    The extra cost of 7 dollar that I had to pay for the delivery is noting in compare to the ease of boarding the train and the assurance that there will be no issue acquiring the tickets.
    Thank you again and will sure use TravelChinaGuide it my next visit to China....More
    Ms.JULIE
    United Kingdom
    Posted on Dec. 08, 2018
    This is just to confirm that we were very satisfied with the service you provided. The trains were all booked as we requested and the tickets arrived promptly and exactly as you said they would. We thoroughly enjoyed our holiday and we would definitely use your services again when we next come to china. Thank you.
    Ms. AHLSTRAND
    Sweden
    Posted on Dec. 03, 2018
    Overall I am very happy with the booking procedure. It is very easy to book the tickets and to get respons from you if needed. The trains in China is always a pleasure. Always on time and in good conditions. All is very good!
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