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China & Hong Kong/Traveling to Chengdu during Spring Festival

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Question
Dear Tom, Our son is teaching English at Sichuan University this year. He has 2 months off in January and February. My husband and I are planning a trip to see him during the Chinese New Year. Fly into Shanghai, spend 2 days, train travel to Chengdu. Stay in Chengdu 1 week. Fly to Beijing, spend 3 days, fly home.  We realize that the crowds  can be extreme during this time. Shall we forgo train travel? Is it even ok to be traveling at that time? We can deal with the less than perfect weather, we'll have proper clothes. We don't have Mandarin skills but we have an adventuresome spirit. Thank you for your advice. Debbie

Answer
Dear Debbie,
In fact, there's not many crowds in the cities during Spring Festival, because most everyone has gone back to their home provinces to be with their families. I mean, sure there are tour groups and holiday travelers at some of the famous sites, but the cities themselves are typically quiet during the New Year.

As for actual travel during Spring Festival, yes, train travel is predictably a nightmare and I would advise against it. The only exception is if you can arrange your train tickets in advance and secure a soft or hard BED (not seat!!!). Train travel in China can be a fun experience, but contending with the crowds at the ticket office is a whole new level of hell, so if you can't secure tickets well in advance, then stick with air travel.

Good luck and have fun!!!
Tom Carter

China & Hong Kong

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