There are two special travel periods in China, the first one is the Spring Festival travel rush (also called Chunyun in Chinese) and the second one is the National Day Holiday period. During these two periods China faces an extremely high traffic load, which results in great transportation problems, especially on the railway services. The main problem is that the demand for tickets far exceeds the supply.
The travel rush during the Spring Festival is considered to be the largest annual migration in China. Millions of people working or studying out of their hometowns will go back to reunite with families as the Chinese Spring Festival approaches. Lasting for about 40 days, the rush usually begins 15 days ahead of the festival and 25 days after that. It is reported that the number of passengers hit over 3.15 billion during the 2012, Spring Festival travel rush. A perfect time for many people in China to travel is during the National Day Holiday, since this is one of the two public holidays of seven-days.
China has adopted various measures to alleviate the problem, such as opening many temporary trains, opening and extending the working hours of ticket booths. In 2012, the 'Real-Name Train Ticket Policy' is applied to all trains in China, in order to solve the problem of scalpers. But then again, the shortage of tickets supply can’t be decomposed by these measures, it is still very difficult to buy train tickets during these periods.
Therefore, we recommend that if you are planning to tour through China, you’d better avoid the travel rush periods. This in order to prevent the ticket problems and the squeezing through huge crowds, gather at major tourist attractions.
If you must travel during the Spring Festival, it is easier to take a flight. However, bear in mind that due to the large passenger volume, airlines hardly offer any discounted fares during these travel rushes and delays happen all the time. And you should book tickets as early as possible to avoid that the tickets are sold out.