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A List of Travel Ideas for China Travel During Chinese New Year

Exploring China During the Busiest Travel Season in the Year


Chinese New Year is synonymous with travel. During the biggest holiday of the mainland's year, the domestic population packs up their bags and heads home for 1 to 4 weeks. Factories, schools and offices close and it's time to eat, drink and be merry. (Think American Thanksgiving weekend travel extended over several weeks.) When you have over a billion people on the move, roads, train stations and airports get busy.

You can read more about the logistics of travel during the holidays, but here I'll discuss some ideas about where to go and what to do if you'll be here during the holidays.

1. Big Cities, Big Parties

Feng Li / Getty Images
If you'll be spending the Chinese New Year holidays in any of China's big cities (Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong, Hangzhou, Chengdu, etc.), and you want to go to a fancy do, then check local listings in English publications for parties and dinners. Most big international five-star chains and many stylish restaurants will have New Year's Eve dinners with set-menus planned. You can book a table at any of these with ease and enjoy a festive dinner that will likely include a lot of courses.

2. Boutique Hotels, Local Color

© 2012 Sara Naumann, licensed to About.com.

Many boutique hotels, especially those that operate outside China's big cities have unique offerings during Chinese New Year. Many bring in local customs and culture, offer guests a cozy atmosphere in which to enjoy the traditions and may include folk performances or other activities.

Here are a few properties that offer special New Year activities. Check directly with them to see what's on offer this year.

3. Go West, Young Traveler*

© 2011 Sara Naumann, licensed to About.com.

Book a trip to a less populated part of China. No, I'm not joking. There are parts of China, especially in the west, where open space and big sky are ubiquitous, where villagers herd sheep up the mountainside and Tibetan nomads roam the grasslands with their livestock.

Here are some ideas:

*The quote was originally "Go west, young man." Attributed to Horace Greeley, an American author.

4. Seek the Sun

Courtesy of the Hilton Sanya Resort & Spa. All rights reserved.

If you want to be in China but you seek sun and sea, then you can consider going to China's Hainan Island. Located in the South China Sea, the island has a host of beach resorts and seaside entertainment.

Yalong Bay, Hainan Island

5. Grab Winter by the Horns: Go North!

Xinhua News Agency. 2008. All Rights Reserved.

If you're going to be in China during the winter holidays, why not embrace the cold? Head up to Heilongjiang Province and try to catch the Harbin Ice & Snow Festival. The festival usually begins in early January and goes through early February. Sometimes this overlaps with Chinese New Year, but regardless, you'll be able to see the snow and ice sculptures even after the festival is over. And it will still be cold. I promise.

If you just want winter fun, check out any of China's ski resorts. A relatively new sport to take hold in China, the ski slopes are being developed more and more and it's becoming a popular place to ski.

6. Book a Tour

© 2012 Sara Naumann, licensed to About.com.

When in doubt, get in touch with a travel agency. You can have them book everything from inbound flights and a day-by-day itinerary, or just contact a professional to get some advice and ask questions. I've had really very good luck with all the agencies I list below. They are professional, willing to help and great with families.

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