STUCK IN TRAFFIC

Photos: What half a billion tourists on the move look like during China’s Golden Week

Obsession
China's Transition
Obsession
China's Transition

This week, half a billion people in China are expected to be traveling during the seven-day-long National Day celebration, known as “Golden Week.” By one estimate, they’re expected to spend some $72 billion at home and abroad during the week.

After just four days, 415 million people have traveled, spending a total of 339.7 billion yuan ($50.9 billion) just in China, according to the China National Tourism Administration (link in Chinese).

Billions will be spent on transportation alone—that’s a lot of gas, train tickets, and cup noodles for the road.

Beijing welcomes you

South Korea, Thailand, and Morocco might be calling, but the pull of China’s capital city is still powerful. Millions will visit Beijing this week, flocking to famous sites like Tiananmen Square, the Great Wall, and the Forbidden City.

The National Day holiday is observed annually on 01 October, and this year marks the 67th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.
Visitors queue to enter Tiananmen Square during National Day celebrations in Beijing on Oct.1,2016 (EPA/WU HONG)
The National Day holiday is observed annually on 01 October, and this year marks the 67th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.
Tourists gather in Tiananmen Square during the 67th National Day celebrations in Beijing, China on Oct.1, 2016. (EPA/WU HONG)
Tourists exit the Forbidden City on a day with high levels of air pollution in Beijing, Monday, Oct. 3, 2016. Saturday was China's National Day holiday, the start of a weeklong holiday period during which millions of Chinese travel and visit tourist sites.
The Forbidden City in Beijing saw a record 20,000 tickets sold in two hours on Oct. 2, 2016. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
Chinese passengers line up to buy tickets at the Beijing Railway Station in Beijing city, China on Sept.27,2016. before the seven-day Chinese National Day Holiday. will fall on 01-07 October 2016.
Chinese passengers line up to buy tickets at the Beijing Railway Station on Sept. 27, 2016 before the seven-day Chinese National Day holiday. (EPA/WU HONG)

Glass bridges and Mickey Mouse

According to a report by Chinese travel booking site Ctrip and government-backed body China Travel Academy, the southeastern city of Hangzhou tops China’s 10 most popular travel destinations (link in Chinese) this year. The city, known for its scenic West Lake, recently built a new airport expressway, pedestrian walkways, and repaired roads for the G20 summit.

The city is also capitalizing on a craze for glass bridges in China, as Flying Dragon Bridge, the longest glass bridge in Zhejiang province, welcomed its first visitors on Oct. 1. The bridge is located in Xinchang County, an hour’s drive from Hangzhou. Some visitors waited for three hours to walk on the glass bridge. Flying Dragon Bridge can hold 4,000 visitors at most.

zhejiang-flying-dragon-bridge-combination
People taking pictures on a glass bridge.

Shanghai Disneyland, the first Disney theme park to open in mainland China, also saw long lines. Visitors reportedly waited about two hours for some rides. Entrance to the park costs 499 yuan ($75) (link in Chinese) at peak times like National Day.

disneyland-combination
Shanghai Disneyland during the National Day holiday.

But unexpected weather can make things much worse. At least 1,000 visitors were stuck overnight (link in Chinese) at the cable car station going up to Mount Hua in northern Shaanxi province on Oct. 3, after the area was hit by strong winds (link in Chinese).

mount-hua-weibo
Pictures on Weibo show visitors stuck at the Mount Hua cable car station.

Spending less in Hong Kong

Chinese tourists dropping huge amounts of money in Hong Kong is a thing of the past. Though mainland Chinese visitors to Hong Kong during the first three days of the holiday grew 3.6% from the same period a year ago, retailers said spending was much more muted than in previous years.

Hong Kong China National Day
Fireworks over Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbor on Oct. 1, 2016. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

Some blame the rising tensions between mainland China and Hong Kong for driving Chinese visitors away from the city, but as China’s economy slows, tourists are also less willing to spend. Hong Kong posted a 10.5% drop in retail sales in the first half of 2016, the worst performance in 17 years.

Pro-China supporters march at Tsim Sha Tsui shopping district to celebrate China's National Day in Hong Kong, China October 1, 2016.      REUTERS/Bobby Yip - RTSQALZ
People march in the Tsim Sha Tsui shopping district to celebrate China’s National Day in Hong Kong on Oct. 1, 2016. (Reuters/Bobby Yip)
Visitors from mainland China watch a march by pro-China supporters at Tsim Sha Tsui shopping district to celebrate China's National Day in Hong Kong, China October 1, 2016.      REUTERS/Bobby Yip - RTSQAMA
Visitors celebrate China’s National Day in Hong Kong on Oct. 1, 2016. (Reuters/Bobby Yip)
home our picks popular latest obsessions search