Find Out Beijing Residents' Plans For Spring Festival

By Alistair Baker-Brian, February 5, 2021

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In any normal year, Spring Festival would be a time for family gatherings and perhaps even a foreign vacation. 

But the past year has been anything but normal. And with new cases of COVID-19 popping up across China in recent months, travel over the holiday period is being strongly discouraged. Some cities are offering workers financial incentives to stay where they are. 

In Beijing, many employers have requested that staff do not leave the city. Those who choose to leave must undergo a series of nucleic acid tests and 14 days of ‘health monitoring’ upon their return. 

To avoid the hassle of the extra requirements, it seems some in Beijing are choosing to stay put. That’s Beijing spoke to a few Beijing residents about their Chinese New Year plans. 

Sophie (Chinese national who has worked in Beijing for two years)

In a normal year, what would you do during Spring Festival?

I typically go home to Anhui province for Spring Festival. Normally, we have family dinner on Chinese New Year's eve, then watch New Year's Gala and make dumplings at my grandparents' house. We also usually travel to somewhere nearby my hometown and just enjoy time with family. 

What do you plan to do in Beijing during Spring Festival?

I would like to spend time with my uncle’s family and my boyfriend who all live in Beijing. I would also like to have a relaxing holiday away from the city center and maybe visit some New Year's temple fairs in Beijing.

When travel becomes easier, what’s the first place you would like to visit?

I would like to go home and visit my family in Anhui since I won’t do so during Spring Festival. And then I want to travel anywhere besides Beijing!

Michelle (American national who has worked in Beijing for three years)

In a normal year, what would you do during Spring Festival?

Travel of course! Last year I went back home to the states. This year I was looking forward to spending some time on a beach, maybe in Vietnam or the Philippines. I love exploring China and Southeast Asia.

What do you plan to do in Beijing during Spring Festival?

I have two weeks off, so my first plan on February 8 is to wake up early and watch the Super Bowl at The Local! I’ll then sleep in for a few days, attend a few cool events, go snowboarding and perhaps find a special location to hike and explore outside the city. 

February 14 is my anniversary with my boyfriend, so we’re going to plan a special activity for us, maybe a staycation in the mountains. Last but not least, on February 16, I’m throwing a big storytelling party with hosts Rachel and Nathan’s at Lenore’s for the Date Night China Season 2 wrap party! It’s going be so much fun, and will have a free flow deal. Anyone is welcome to join us!

When travel becomes easier, what’s the first place you would like to visit? 

Probably Suzhou and shanghai, but I really want to check out Chongqing as well! That was our original spring Festival break plan, so we are going to take some weekend trips as soon as we know we won’t have to quarantine or do any ‘health monitoring’ coming back into Beijing. 

Abdou (Tunisian national who has worked in Beijing for ten years)

In a normal year, what would you do during Spring Festival?

In a normal year, I would just go back to Tunisia or I would just travel to countries near China, but because of the pandemic I’m going to stay in Beijing.

What do you plan to do in Beijing during Spring Festival?

This is not my first time to spend the Spring Festival in Beijing. I really enjoy the empty roads and quietness in the city at this time of year.

I’m planning to meet friends who are also in Beijing, ride my scooter around the city and spend more time reading. 

When travel becomes easier, what’s the first place you would like to visit? 

When travel becomes easier I would definitely go back to my country as I haven’t been there for two years now and I can’t wait to see my family. 

Not everyone has decided to stay put however. That’s Beijing also spoke to Kim, who has worked in Beijing for four years, about her plans to travel to her hometown of Chongqing. 

Do you usually travel home during Spring Festival?

During my time in Beijing or in other cities in China, I have done so. When I studied abroad, I wasn’t able to because my school didn’t allow me to have time off for Spring festival holiday. 

What do you plan to do in Chongqing?

I want to meet up with my best friends from high school and spend time with my parents doing things like hiking, having tea together, shopping, watching a movie etc. Maybe I will visit some other relatives with my parents. 

Was it very difficult to book a COVID test in Beijing?

It was not too hard to book if you did it in advance. But today I went for the test without an appointment. I was waiting in line for about two hours outdoors!

When traveling becomes easier, are there other places you would like to visit?

Yes! I am very interested in traveling to South Asia or Japan. I would also like to visit South America if I am able to take two weeks off work. 

In Beijing and elsewhere across China, it seems fewer people will be traveling than in a normal year. Perhaps by 2022, the Spring Festival period will once again live up to its reputation as the ‘largest human migration.’

The interviews have been edited fo clarity and brevity. 

READ MORE: Traveling Over Spring Festival Might Not Be So Easy

[Cover image via Pixabay]

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