Beijing Travel Guide


Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival, starts on the first day of the first moon according to the traditional lunar calendar (usually between late January and mid-February). Although it officially lasts only three days, many people take a week off work. The Lantern Festival is a colourful time to visit Beijing. People walk the streets at night carrying coloured paper lanterns. It falls on the 15th day of the first moon (two weeks after the Spring Festival starts). Tomb Sweeping Day is a day for worshipping ancestors; people visit the graves of their dearly departed relatives and clean their gravesites. They often burn 'ghost money' (for use in the afterworld) for the departed. It falls on 5 April in the Gregorian calendar in most years; 4 April in leap years. The Mid-Autumn Festival is also known as the Moon Festival and is the time families gather to eat tasty moon cakes. The festival takes place on the 15th day of the 8th moon (around September or October).

Public Holidays
1 May - International Labour Day
4 May - Youth Day
8 Mar - International Working Women's Day
Jan/Feb - Chinese New Year
1 Jan - New Year's Day
1 Jun - Children's Day
1 Aug - Anniversary of the Founding of the PLA
1 July - Anniversary of the Founding of the Chinese Communist Party
1 Oct - National Day

When to Go

Of the shoulder seasons, autumn is optimal - the weather is gorgeous and fewer tourists are in town. Local Beijingers describe this short season as tiangao qìshuang - literally 'the sky is high and the air is fresh' - with clear skies and breezy days. Spring is less pleasant - not many tourists but lots of wind and dust.

Summer (June to August) is considered peak season, when hotels typically raise their rates and the Great Wall nearly collapses under the weight of marching tourists. Winter is the extreme opposite but makes for pretty surrounds if you can stand the freezing temperatures; you'll have Beijing to yourself and many hotels offer substantial discounts. Everything is chock-a-block during the Chinese New Year (usually in January or February).

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