Chinese New Year is one of the best times to travel to China, marking the most important festival in Chinese culture, written on the lunar calendar as the day of the second new moon. It is also called Spring festival because it means looking forward to spring – even though it is winter for most of China.
What the big day entails…
The main activities on Chinese New Year include:
- Putting up decorations including red Chinese lanterns
- Eating reunion dinner with family on New Year’s Eve
- Lots of firecrackers and fireworks!
Other main attractions to enjoy…
To truly experience Chinese New Year and enjoy a stress-free holiday you can always book a private trip to Beijing where you can see the historic Great Wall. A must see is Hong Kong’s Firework Display over the Victoria Harbour which I can confirm is one of the most spectacular firework displays in the world, lasting 25 minutes. It is perfect. With no admission charge you can literally watch from anywhere – although the best spots are by the waterfront.
Most importantly, make sure to visit the Chinese New Year parade which has a string of entertainment to follow; from marching bands, troupes of acrobats, exotic lions to those iconic Chinese dragons you see on the telly! After all that excitement and fun, you should take a cultural trip to Beijing’s Ditan Park Temple Fair where a ceremony re-enacting the Qing Dynasty is performed every morning at 10am until the seventh day of the lunar year.
Some top tips to help you stay ahead of the Chinese New Year madness:
Although it is the most exciting day of the year for Chinese culture, it is also the busiest time of the year. Make sure to arrange your itinerary beforehand so that you can avoid much of the transport stress. On this day of festivities, trains are likely to be sold out – so perhaps try avoiding travelling by railway and bus or just book well in advanced. Also, keep an eye out as most businesses do tend to shut on Chinese New Year, however most tourist related enterprises such as large restaurants, attractions and hotels should be open.
Speaking of crowds, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s website reminds us that China has high levels of air pollution in major urban and industrialised areas, which may aggravate bronchial, sinus or asthma conditions. If you have any pre-existing medical conditions, you should really check the pollution index levels before travelling. For an extensive list of health precautions to take before travelling, just take a look at the Top Health Tips for China
Local Laws and Customs:
As of November 1st, 2018, China has introduced the requirement for everyone applying for a visa between the ages of 14 and 70 to submit their visa application in person at a Visa Application Centre. In addition, foreign nationals over the age of 16 are required to carry their passport at all times in case of random police checks by the authorities. A quick tip for those with a dual nationality – China doesn’t recognise dual nationality so do check the FCO’s Advice on what to do in case you get stuck.
Remember, in the event that you do get lost in a magical Chinese dragon or get into trouble with the authorities whilst on your visit, you can always contact your nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. Be sure to check out the FCO’s website, Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram for travel updates, tips and advice.
Sara Miah is a third-year Politics student and Student Brand Ambassador for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.