2019 welcomes the year of the pig. This Chinese zodiac sign ushers in good fortune for the New Year; however, the week of Spring Festival may not be a fortunate time to go sightseeing.
It's now the New Year! Officially! In China, it's celebrated over a month later over Spring Festival and it is THE occasion of the year. Last year, I experienced Chinese New Year first hand in Shanghai, China. Excited, thinking the city would be empty, I found my plans sadly spoiled. I would not be able to explore the city as easy as I thought would. It was no where near empty! Sure, the local spots were not overrun, but the tourist destinations certainly were.
There are two things that musts be considered when wondering around Shanghai in the Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival--weather and crowds. It's still winter time, and that means its cold and wet for the most part. Also, destination hots pots must be strategically planned to avoid the influx of crowds. However, I would not recommend this as the time to go visiting Shanghai's top ten must or the country's for the most part.
If you're in Shanghai for Chinese New Year, here are some places to avoid...
Don't expect deserted city feeling vibes. When you step outside the metro, pop out your car or unload from a bus you hit the myriad amount of people stuffed and shuffling to see the classical garden. There will be a fenced of line that wraps around into the market streets for the garden entrance. Sure the lantern decorations on the inside might be worth, but if you go during this time, you'll need a tent and three days worth of food as you wait.
Just no. Maybe you can get a nice shot on the East Bund, but definitely not the West Bund which gives you the scenic backdrop. It will be a fight for a spot on the railing. You can literally feel the herding increase with each step closer to the anticipated place. Everywhere is full. Everyone is trying to get the typical skyline shot or three tower shot, and it’s just not as enjoyable. Also there will probably be a random person in your shot.
Any temple in Shanghai.
Any of them. Jing An Temple, the Jade Buddha Temple…. Nope. They are all full and you will be competing with everyone’s smart phone and selfie stick for a decent picture.
If you want to see these locations, I suggest you make plans a few days before or after. The decorations will still be out, and you will not be competing with city residents to see them. Shanghai is huge city, over a small space, but with millions of people. You don’t want to be stuck in it. Trust me.
Have you ever traveled somewhere and there were unexpected crowds, or it was peak season? How did you manage? Let us know!