Trains, Planes And Massive Crowds!| 5 min read
After all the confusion of working the weekends to make up for other days, teaching Fridays lessons on a Saturday and Mondays lessons on a Sunday, throw in 3 days off for the Mid- Autumn festival (just to make it a little more confusing), back to work for 6 days and hey presto more days off!
So its time for another holiday!? You have 7 days off and the next question is- what’s it for and where can I explore?
Every year in Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau, the Peoples Republic of China celebrates National Day on October 1st.
The 7-day national holiday is one of two major holidays celebrated in China and is referred to as ‘Golden Week’, the second one being the Chinese Spring Festival.
The holiday was implemented in 2000 and it gives you three days of paid holiday and then the surrounding weekends are re-arranged, which if your anything like me you were baffled by it and confused why you should have to wake up so early on a Sunday morning to go to work! But, there is a good logic to this- it is so that workers in Chinese companies always have 7 consecutive days off to visit their families. Many Chinese people work away from their hometowns and they look forward to the holidays where they travel home and spend some time with their families.
National Day is celebrated with a variety of Government- organised events such as firework displays and concerts throughout China. Large public places like Tiananmen Square in Beijing, have parades and are decorated with festive themes. You may also see portraits of honored leaders displayed in public places.
This period sees a massive boom in travel and tourism, with everyone wanting to travel throughout China, which means it’s a must to get in early and buy tickets if you want to go anywhere! The larger cities in China get flooded with tourists and major attractions are inundated with people.
Having spent my first October National holiday traveling from North East China to Beijing for the Golden week holiday, I was completely shocked by the masses of people everywhere, I really did feel like a lost foreigner as I arrived in Beijing’s overly crowded main train station clutching my map and being pushed in every direction when trying to find the exit.
Needless to say I had been quite ignorant when I had been told that the combination of golden week tourists and Beijing’s rush hour was fatal- yet I had still gone ahead and booked my train to arrive at 5pm! (It’s certainly something’s I avoided the year after!)
As ever the un-planned traveler, the next day I rocked up to the Forbidden City at midday, to be confronted by a shockingly long queue, I waited for the line to go down almost kicking myself as I received a text message from my buddy at my school back in Shenyang saying “remember to go sightseeing early in the morning, there are no queues”.
Once inside I was glad I had waited so long as it was everything I had expected and much more! At one point though I was being swept along by the crowds of people and ended up following a tour group- each person on the tour was given a bright orange hat incase they got lost and I seriously considered investing in some kind of illuminous hat so my friends could find me again!
The rest of the week I spent visiting the Great Wall, various temples and markets and after deciding to get up and out of my hostel early I had no problem seeing everything Beijing had to offer!
You can use the chance to see some of the great and beautiful places China has to offer during your time off and I have prepared some tips to ensure your traveling go smoothly!
Tips for traveling in Golden Week:
- Buy your tickets in advance, chances are train and plane tickets will all sell out close to the holiday.
- It is advised not to travel on a one way ticket as its not assured you will be able to get a return ticket back from your destination.
- Always tell your school where you are traveling to and give them the date which you expect to return.
- When traveling don’t leave any of your belongings unsupervised.
- Book your accommodation before you depart, don’t rely on hostels being available if you just turn up without a reservation!
- Always carry your passport with you as well as making a copy of it for back up!
- When planning to go sightseeing go early in the morning to avoid queues and get the most out of your day.
- In crowded areas keep a careful eye on all your belongings. Investing in a money belt is always a good idea when traveling anywhere.
- If traveling in group’s pre- arrange a meeting place in case anyone gets lost.
Will you be going on the Teach and Travel China trip to Inner Mongolia?
For all of you who have arranged with us to come on the Inner Mongolia, we here at ImmerQi look forward to seeing you again for some great fun in the Mongolian deserts and grasslands!
Still deciding on a place to visit? Check out our raw China guide located in our participant’s section for some ideas of where to travel to!