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Chunyun - Spring Festival Travel Rush in China

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 2023 lasts from January 7 to February 15. 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…  

2023 / 2024 / 2025 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, or at stations or some ticket windows in towns and cities 15 days before departure; 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.

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

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 (%)
2022 253 16
2021 (Influenced by COVID-19) 218 3.5
2020 (Chunyun was not formed due to COVID-19.) / /
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 updated on May. 30, 2023 by Catherine He -
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