When there’s a national holiday in China, you can pretty much count on everyone in the country to take to the streets in celebration. Making for some of the most spectacular and claustrophobia-inducing crowds in the world.
Springtime is rife with national holidays for the Chinese, who celebrated Tomb Sweeping Day (also known as the Qingming Festival) on Monday, April 4, and have been celebrating cherry blossom season since the trees started blooming.
If you’re visiting China during the holidays, you may not even be able to see some the country’s most famous sites. After all, the locals took advantage of the most recent long weekend to do the same. The Daily Mail reported that swarms flooded the Great Wall of China, Yuyuantan Park in Beijing (also packed with cherry blossom viewers) and Mount Tai. The latter, according to a local site, saw more than 27 million tourists over a mere three day period.
On Tomb Sweeping Day—when more than a billion people in China travel in a collective mass to sweep the graves of their ancestors and to offer the spirits gifts (including whole chickens, wine, and incense). More than 2 million pounds of paper products—mainly faux money and models—are burnt in memory of the departed relatives and friends.
Want to avoid the droves? Consider visiting in June. There aren’t any domestic holidays (so you won’t be fighting for shoulder room on China’s already-teeming subways), and it’s Beijing’s shoulder season: meaning major deals on hotel rooms.
Melanie Lieberman is the Assistant Digital Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @melanietaryn.