China’s National Labor Day is every year on May 1st giving the mighty work force of China a long weekend. One of the major Chinese “golden weekends” around 41.2 million trips are expected to be made by train this year from April 30th to May 3rd. The Chinese people take advantage of extended weekends to make pilgrimages to landmarks and national parks creating a swarm of tourists in many urban locations
The number one spot for most rural Chinese people is The Forbidden City. If you live in Beijing try to avoid line 1 on the subway as it will be packed to the limit. Conveniently situated across from Tian’an men square, tourists can soak up ancient history and communist party history.
National parks in China also see huge bumps in tourism as the weather turns nice and plant life blooms. Zhangjiajie national park is fast becoming the major outdoor destination for tourists. If you don’t recognize the name look at the picture and see if it reminds you of a certain James Cameron movie. Zhangjiajie inspired Cameron’s floating mountains in the movie Avatar and were prototypes before shooting the movie. The Chinese government was so taken by the director’s set choice that they renamed one of the major peaks “Hallelujah Mountain” after the floating landscape in the movie.
And, of course, The Great Wall will be an unending line of sight seers slowly winding through the mountainous region north of Beijing. Busses and private cars shuttle endlessly along the highway between the city and the most famous wall in the world. Lines of people stretch as far as the wall itself during these peak tourist days and might be as impressive as the wall itself but infinitely more frustrating. Even the more adventurous tourists who hike out to remote sections will be surprised to find the lines of people have followed them across seemingly impassable terrain.
With the spike in tourism it might be a better idea to stay at home this weekend and catch up on some reading. If this is your last chance to see the many landmarks in China then be brave, be strong and be unrelenting when pushing your way through the incomparable crowds of tourists during this Golden Weekend!