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Take flight for the spring festival

updated: 2009-01-19

The Chinese New Year festival is the time when the nation's transport systems are stretched to the limit. But there are still ways to get about and you can enjoy a trip or two.

With China's biggest festival, the Chinese Lunar New Year, fast approaching, a detailed travel plan is necessary if you decide to stay in China for the week-long holiday.

Preparation is crucial - tickets are usually very difficult to get as migrants battle to return home before the Spring Festival, a time for family reunion. China expects 2.32 billion passenger trips during the holiday rush. The Ministry of Railways estimated 188 million of these journeys would be train trips. Traveler-times by bus and by water will reach 2.07 billion and 31 million respectively.

But the traffic usually eases when the traditional holiday begins (this year's Lunar New Year's Day falls on Jan. 26) as most people have already got home in time for the nianyefan, or Lunar New Year's Eve dinner.

Travel destinations may be busy again after the third day of the holiday when most people usually finish their new year visits to relatives and then plan outings.

For the first 15 days of the Spring Festival travel rush, transport to big cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou is usually booked out, so buying tickets early is vital - the earlier the better. Remote destinations are not recommended-this is the only time of year that many migrants return home, so tickets are even more difficult to buy. If you can afford it, air travel is probably the best choice as most college students and migrant workers take trains or buses.


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