As we gear up toward the much-anticipated Lunar New Year festivities, there's one thing on everyone's mind: Chunyun 春运, the annual migration that will see 9 billion trips being taken this year. Whether you're seasoned to living in China or embarking on your first China adventure, navigating this bustling period can seem like a daunting task. But don't worry, ASI Movers prepared some insider tips and insights to ensure your journey is as smooth as the Dragon's flight!
What Is Chunyun 春运?
Picture Credit: Hiurich Granja
Chunyun, also known as the Spring Festival travel rush, is the world's largest human migration, encompassing several billion passenger trips each year during its 40-day period. This massive movement, occurring between January 26th and March 6th this year, sees millions of individuals journeying across China to reunite with loved ones for the Lunar New Year celebrations.
Originating from the traditional practice of returning home to spend time with family during the holiday season, Chunyun has evolved into a phenomenon that reflects the economic, social, and cultural dynamics of contemporary China. For many, this period represents a rare opportunity to take a well-deserved break from work or studies, with children enjoying a month-long vacation and migrant workers seizing the chance to return to their hometowns. For those who live abroad, it is also the chosen moment to return to their hometown to visit their relatives.
While Chunyun primarily involves domestic travel, there's a growing trend of combining the Spring Festival celebrations with tourism, particularly among urban Millennials and Gen Z. Additionally, international travel has gained momentum, fueled by the return to normal following the pandemic and new visa exemptions, with the National Immigration Administration forecasting a significant increase in border clearances.
Why Does Everybody Go On Vacation At The Same Time?
If you're caught in the midst of Chunyun crowds, you might question why it's necessary for everyone to travel at once. However, there are compelling reasons behind this bustling period.
The Lunar New Year holds immense cultural significance, serving as a time for family reunions, cultural festivities, and the observance of traditional rituals. By synchronizing vacations, Chunyun enables families, whose members often live far apart and away from their hometown, to gather together simultaneously.
Moreover, it facilitates efficient coordination of travel logistics and minimizes disruptions to businesses and public services during this significant holiday period.
In short, this synchronized vacation period enables family reunions and allows people to preserve cherished customs all the while minimizing its impact on the economy.
Timing Is Everything
When it comes to Chunyun, timing can make all the difference. While the peak travel period typically falls around the weeks leading up to the Lunar New Year, consider traveling during off-peak hours if possible. Early mornings and late nights might not be the most convenient, but they can significantly reduce your wait times and ease the congestion.
Pack Light, Pack Smart
As tempting as it may be to bring along your entire wardrobe for the New Year celebrations, remember that traveling during Chunyun means dealing with crowds and limited space. Opt for packing light and sticking to the essentials. Bonus tip: consider bringing along some snacks and entertainment to keep you fueled and busy during those inevitable travel delays.
Despite your best-laid plans, it's essential to remain flexible during Chunyun. Delays and unexpected hiccups are par for the course during this bustling period, so try to roll with the punches and keep a positive attitude. Who knows, you might stumble upon some unexpected adventures along the way!
Make The Most Of Chinese Apps, Including Crowd Insights
Navigating transportation during Chunyun can be overwhelming, but local transportation apps can be invaluable tools to help you get around efficiently.
If you are looking for an all-comprehensive app for your upcoming domestic travels within China, we recommend you use 高德地图 (Amap). Despite being only available in Mandarin, this app allows you to not only get directions, pictures, and ratings of your next stop, but also to book a cab, a hotel, or a train ticket, find things nearby to do and restaurants, book tickets to tourist attractions and check the crowd levels of the places you will go to hour by hour.
If you would like to stick to English, the English version of Ctrip called Trip is the perfect alternative both locally and internationally.
Not sure of which ride-hailing app to use for your upcoming international travels? Check this comprehensive map!
Source: Jonathan Marciano for Similarweb
Explore Rural & Less Crowded Routes
While major highways and transportation hubs may experience heavy congestion during Chunyun, rural routes, and scenic byways can offer a more relaxed and picturesque travel experience. In particular, rural bus stations in smaller towns and villages can offer a quieter and more relaxed travel experience. Consider taking advantage of these less congested bus stations for shorter-distance travel, exploring rural areas, or simply taking a detour during the Lunar New Year period to avoid crowds and discover hidden gems along the way.
Plan Ahead, Way Ahead
As you probably know, last-minute planning is not an option during this period. With millions of people hitting the roads, rails, and skies, tickets run out fast. Besides transport and accommodation, be sure to also book tickets to the attractions you plan on visiting in advance!
Picture Credits: Daniel Liu
At ASI Movers, we understand the importance of a smooth and stress-free travel experience, especially during Chunyun. Whether you're relocating to a new country or simply heading home for the holidays, our team is here to support you every step of the way. From expert packing and logistics to personalized assistance, we've got your back, so you can focus on what truly matters—making memories with your loved ones.
So here's to a happy and hassle-free Lunar New Year travel experience! Safe travels, and may the Year of the Dragon bring you prosperity, happiness, and countless adventures!🐉🧧
Curious about the impact of CNY on your upcoming move? Read ASI Logistics' insights on the effects of the celebrations on the logistics industry.
- Abril, G., & Bonet Bailén, I. (2024, February 5). The “Chunyun”: The largest annual migration on the planet becomes an economic barometer for China. EL PAÍS English. https://english.elpais.com/international/2024-02-05/the-chunyun-the-largest-annual-migration-on-the-planet-becomes-an-economic-barometer-for-china.html
- Marciano, J. (2016, August 21). Who runs the world? uber! | Similarweb. Similarweb. https://www.similarweb.com/blog/research/market-research/worldwide-ride-hailing-apps/
- Xiong, X., & Lei, T. (2024, January 25). China braces for Spring Festival Travel Rush with record 9 billion passenger trips expected. Global Times. https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202401/1306103.shtml
- Zuo, M. (2024, January 25). With Lunar New Year boon a stopgap, China’s economy has other 2024 priorities. South China Morning Post. https://www.scmp.com/economy/economic-indicators/article/3249720/chinas-lunar-new-year-travel-surge-boost-economy-property-market-and-private-firms-remain-top