International Labor Day in China

Menglun tropical botanical garden, Xishuangbanna
Feng Wei Photography / Getty Images

Chinese workers and students get a few days off for the May 1 holiday period. Depending on when May 1 falls, people might get an "extension." So, for example, if May 1 is a Saturday, the public will get an extension and have Monday, May 3 off.

Travel During National Holidays

Many workers may extend the weekend to make it a longer holiday which can translate into millions of Chinese traveling domestically and internationally. Travel fares double and triple and advance bookings must be made weeks, even months ahead for international travel. Hoards of tour groups flock to the major tourist destinations of China, so you can forget having a quiet moment to ponder how the Great Wall was built.

May Holiday Travels

If you can avoid it, it's advisable not to travel domestically during the week around May 1st. According to 2004 statistics, 90 million tourists were expected to travel; in 2006, China’s main tourist destinations saw a 17% increase in visitors. Four million tourists traveled to Shanghai alone.

If You'll Be There Anyway

However, if you are in China, you'll find the weather in May is usually very nice, if a little wet. Government offices and banks will be closed for a few days around May 1, but almost everything else, from tourist spots to shops, restaurants, and even the post office will be open for business.

Here are some suggestions for travel during the May holiday:

  • Xishuangbanna - This region of central-southern Yunnan is tropical and lush. totally different from Shanghai. You can relish in the greenery and vegetation and explore the gardens at Yourantai outside Jinghong as well as the skywalk at Wang Tian Shu.
  • Wuyishan - This is another great area to explore in spring. The nature in this famous for tea region in Fujian Province is beautiful and there are many mountain and scenic areas to explore.
  • China's West - If you've got even more time, take a full week or more to go out to China's western reaches where you'll find even fewer tourists and great weather:
    • Xinjiang - You might find it's still quite cold, especially if you're planning a trip up the Karakoram Highway but the rest of the region will be warmer and you'll get to see the desert in spring.
    • Lhasa & the Tibetan Autonomous Region - May is when travel season in Tibet really opens up but it's still not so overly popular that you'll be fighting tourist hoards.
    • The Silk Road - Any dots along the Silk Road will take you away from the more popular places to travel over the May Holiday period. Try a road trip on the Hexi Corridor, the strip of ancient Silk Road that connects Lanzhou with Dunhuang.
  • Hainan Island - While this is a popular time to go, if you book in advance, you might be able to find some deals. The beaches in Hainan are great to visit in early May. It's not overly hot yet but you'll still get to enjoy beach style and swimming at any of the numerous Hainan resorts such as the Intercontinental Sanya.
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