The annual mass migration that characterizes the Spring Festival in China is looming large and once again set to reach record-breaking proportions, with projected figures up 11.6% from last year. According to the Ministry of Transport, about 2.556 billion passenger trips will be made over the holiday period--that's one journey for every human being on the planet circa 1950.
The 40-day lunar holiday period kicks off tomorrow and runs 'til 27 February so expect buses, planes and trains to be busy, busy, busy and tickets thin on the ground to say the least (though if you haven't yet planned your holiday escape, Ctrip has still got some good deals on international and domestic flights, hotels and packages).
This year, as Apple Travel points out, the new lunar year arrives eleven days earlier than last year,which means an overlap of passenger flow with students, migrant workers and travelers all making their way around the country at the same time and likely to create more congestion on the railroads.
In 2008 heavy snowfall and ice affected Chinese New Year travel plans leaving 105 million people stranded and once again the freezing winter weather will be doing its bit to disrupt things though according to Vice-Minister of Railways Wang Zhiguo, "A lot of work has been done in preparation for the extreme weather."
As someone who has recently made it through the icy wasteland that was western Europe over the Christmas holidays, China can scarcely do worse, but then again, they have a few more billion people to consider. So, if you're planning to travel, buy tickets early, wrap up warm and take a good book (or two!).