October 1 is a huge holiday in China! It’s the founding of the People’s Republic of China, and China celebrates with a week long holiday from October 1 – 7. This gives Chinese people enough time to visit their families and go back to their hometowns. For expats living in China, this is a great holiday because it means you have a week off to travel!
Unfortunately, due to the large amount of other people traveling home and to other destinations, it can be hard to find a great place to travel that won’t be super crowded.
No matter where you choose to travel in China you run the risk of crowds, but there are certain places that will definitely be less crowded and give you a better experience traveling.
Here are my tips about where to travel during the National Holiday, learned either from my personal experience or from what friends and other people have told me.
Tips for Traveling During the Holiday
- Avoid traveling on the first and last day of the holiday -train stations and traffic will be crazy!
- Book tickets far in advance – the prices will increase and lots of destinations will sell out quickly! Planes are usually more available than trains.
Where to Avoid Traveling During the National Holiday in China
Major tourist sights are best avoided during this holiday! They will be super crowded and it will make it more difficult to enjoy your holiday. (But hey, if it’s the only time you have to travel sometimes you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do.)
- Zhangjiajie National Park
- Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City
- Huangshan Mountain
- Mount Tai
- Lijiang and Kunming
If you are traveling to these popular locations, try to find lesser visited places nearby, and wake up very early to beat the crowds.
Where to Travel During the Chinese National Holiday
Here are some of my recommendations for lesser traveled places, or places off the beaten track. While they still might have crowds, it will be less so than other places.
I took a trip to Inner Mongolia during the National Holiday in 2018 with a tour group called CET. While we went with a large group, it was actually organized nicely, didn’t feel over crowded, and we met lots of great friends! You can stay in a yurt, go horseback riding, and see the deserts of China.
I traveled to Yangshuo during the National Holiday in 2017 with some friends who visited from the US. I expected it to be more crowded but was actually still very nice! It might be more touristy and crowded than it was several years ago, but if you plan it right it will still be nice.
Guangzhou or Shenzhen
The National Holiday is actually a great chance to explore bigger cities you haven’t visited yet. There are usually lots of trains available, and many people leave bigger cities to travel home during the holiday. Both Guangzhou and Shenzhen have lots to do and see and can be check off in a few days each. Before I ever lived in Guangzhou, I traveled here with friends to celebrate the National Holiday in 2016.
Camping on the Great Wall
For the National Holiday in 2019 I went camping on the Great Wall with Great Wall Fresh! This is a great option because they take you to a wild section of the wall near their home, so it’s not popular or crowded at all, even during the holiday. It was a bit chilly on the night we went, but others had great weather during this time!
I also visited the Huanghuacheng Section of the Wall during the holiday and loved it. Read about my experience here: Huanghuacheng Section of the Great Wall: Lake Views and No Crowds!
Chinese Friend’s Hometown
My first year in China I was living in the Hunan Province in a small city. For the National Day holiday we took a bus to an even smaller city to celebrate. It was so much fun, and we avoided the crowds at train stations altogether! We met her family, tried traditional foods, and learned how to play mahjong and other tradtional Chinese games.
If you’re looking to learn more about local Chinese families and avoid the hassle of planning a big trip, ask a Chinese friend to go home with them! I’m sure they will say yes haha.
Travel Outside China
If you’re looking to completely avoid the crowds, traveling outside of China is an option. You have a week which is enough time to visit somewhere in Southeast Asia!
Some great places to look:
- South Korea
Traveling During the National Holiday in China
Overall, the National Holiday is an exciting time for both expats and local people in China! Make the most of your holiday time and plan it in advance to make sure you can get tickets and enjoy your trip.
Check out some of my other favorite trips in China [that were not during the National Week 😉 ]
- Furong Ancient Town: The Magical Waterfall Village of Hunan, China
- A Guide To Visiting the Forbidden City
- The Xijiang Qianhu Miao Village in the Guizhou Province of China
- Gubei Water Town & Simatai Great Wall