Smooth travels for Chinese New Year

Michele Koh Morollo
Y! Travel Journal
Have a pleasant fun-filled Chinese New Year trip to welcome the Snake year. Picture: Thinkstock

Heading to an Asian city this season? Make it a hassle-free holiday with these tips.

Travelling before, during or after Chinese New Year can be a bit tricky, as you’ll have to “compete” with those who want to leave or celebrate the season with their loved ones overseas. If you’re planning to visit China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan – or even Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia – these suggestions can help you breeze through the CNY frenzy.

Book ahead
If you want to dine out on Chinese New Year, make reservations at least two to three weeks in advance. You may even be better off getting a table at a non-Chinese eatery on 10 or 11 February, as most Chinese restaurants will likely be closed.

Rent a car
If you don’t want the hassle of jostling with other commuters on buses or subways, try renting a car during your stay. Book your vehicle at least three weeks before your arrival date. It will probably be a good idea to get a GPS from the rental company too.

Don’t get stranded
In the weeks leading up to Chinese New Year, it might be difficult to buy tickets from capital cities going to smaller cities – so make sure you book all your connecting flights from a travel agent in your home city. After the seven-day holiday, the trend reverses and it may become more difficult to buy tickets from the smaller cities to the major ones – so purchase those in advance as well.

Avoid travelling by rail if possible. Trains are the most popular form of domestic inter-city transport, so railways are always packed and it’ll be hard to get tickets. If you plan to travel within China during this period, it might be best to do it by air.

Do some research
The best part about travelling during Chinese New Year is all the festivals and events. If you want to catch the shows, street fairs and celebrations, find out their schedules and locations. Give yourself some extra time, as you may need to make your way through a sea of people to get there.

Be comfortable
It’s still cold in China this February, so bring plenty of warm clothing.

Just chill
Sport a good attitude, a little patience, a sense of humour and a smile. There’ll likely be congestion and long waits, so stay cool and enjoy the adventure. After all, Chinese New Year is a time to celebrate – and what’s a party without the crowds?