Lonely Planet Writer

World's largest human migration to get underway for Chinese New Year

Lunar New Year is fast approaching and the holiday brings with it what is described as the world’s largest human migration – almost 3 billion trips are expected to be taken in a 40-day period.

A tourist lies on the floor cast with shadows of traditional Chinese lanterns ahead of the Lunar New Year celebrations in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016. The Lunar New Year which falls on Feb. 8 this year marks the Year of the Monkey in the Chinese calendar.
A tourist lies on the floor cast with shadows of traditional Chinese lanterns ahead of the Lunar New Year celebrations in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016. The Lunar New Year which falls on Feb. 8 this year marks the Year of the Monkey in the Chinese calendar.

The chūnyùn period, or Spring Festival travel season, is a period of time around Chinese New Year where many people are travelling for holidays, either home to visit their families or on a vacation.

China’s Ministry of Transport is predicting 2.9 billion trips during the 40-day Spring Festival period between 21 January and 3 March, reports the Associated Press. China’s total population is just under 1.4 billion.

Macau during Lunar New Year.
Macau during Lunar New Year. Image by travel oriented / CC BY-SA 2.0

This year, Lunar New Year will be celebrated with parades, festivals and parties on 8 February, marking the beginning of the Year of the Monkey.

Travel is an integral part of the holiday, as it is customary to head home to spend time with family. That brings many workers and students back to their communities, sometimes for the only time in a year, reports Bloomberg. While many people are travelling towards home, neighbouring countries are expecting a boost in tourism.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand says it is expecting to attract about 1.01 million international visitors between 6 and 14 February, a 19% increase over the previous year. Almost half of those visitors are expected to come from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia.

Chinese New Year decorations.
Chinese New Year decorations. Image by Warren R.M. Stuart / CC BY 2.0

Other nearby countries are looking at ways to get a share of tourists during Lunar New Year. Indonesia celebrates Chinese New Year as an official holiday, reports ECNS, and Indonesia is hoping to lure travels to its beaches and holiday celebrations, as the ministry of tourism began last-minute promotional events in Chinese cities.

However, with the spring migration comes many travel problems like crowding and delays. This year, some of those issues have been compounded by snow in central China, which caused flight cancellations and delays.

While Lunar New Year will be celebrated around much of Asia, there are also many other cities around the world, like London, New York, and Melbourne, which hold some kind of celebration.

Read more about this year’s Chinese New Year festivals around the world here.