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The Lunar New Year of the Dragon brings Travel to China

The Chinese Lunar New Year welcomed the Wood Dragon on February 10, 2024, beginning a year that many in China hope will bring good luck and more travel!  The Lunar New Year commences what is also known as the “Spring Festival,” in China and Hong Kong, however, people around the world celebrate this lunar calendar event. 

One of the traditions, known as “chun yun,” is the world's largest annual migration with millions of people from all over the world returning to their hometowns in Asian countries to visit family for the Lunar New Year. This annual migration is a 40-day period of travel while traditional New Year celebrations are observed throughout the 15 days.

Below, we share some traits of the Dragon and travel tips to China for the year ahead!

The Year of the Dragon Brings Good Fortune and More Children! 

The Year of the Dragon is considered especially significant, as the dragon is a celebrated mythical creature that symbolizes imperial power and good luck. In Chinese culture, dragons are “in a class of their own, regarded as the givers of abundance and longevity.” The Chinese believe that a child born in the year of the Dragon will bring good luck, and it is forecasted that there will be a spike of babies being born in China this year.

The Dragon zodiac sign occupies the 5th position in the 12-year cycle of the Chinese Zodiac. In accordance with the Chinese Five Elements Theory, which encompasses Wood, Metal, Fire, Water, and Earth, each year is also associated with an elemental attribute in addition to the zodiac sign.  This particular Dragon embodies the Wood elements.

Lunar New Year Traditions and Celebrations

While the Zodiac is one of the most famous parts of the Chinese New Year, this major holiday has over 3,000 years of history with plenty of other traditions to discover! After cleaning their homes the week before the Lunar New Year begins, there a celebrations with returning family members filled with plenty of food and sharing of the well-known red packets. Known as hongbao in Mandarin and lai see in Cantonese, these packets contain monetary gifts, though it the red envelope itself that holds the most significance.  

These Lunar New Year celebrations lasts 16 days, culminating with the Lantern Festival, one of the most exciting events! The Lantern Festival, celebrated this year on February 24, dates back over 2,000 years, making it one of the oldest traditional festivals in the world. On this day, everyone leaves their homes to light lanterns with families and friends, illuminating the sky with various shapes as the moon rises.

Unsurprisingly, lanterns play a central role in this joyous occasion as they symbolize the return of light after the cold darker winter nights, hope, good fortune, and family unity. The round shape of lanterns further signifies reunion and completeness.

Travel Tips for Navigating China

Although you may not have been able to make it to China for this year’s Lunar New Year celebrations, travel to China at any time is a rewarding and exciting experience!  Since COVID restrictions have been lifted, travel to China has become so much easier and more accessible. Additionally, starting January 1, 2024, Americans no longer have to submit detailed travel plans, streamlining the visa process and enabling faster approvals.

If you choose to take advantage of these new policies to travel to China, there are some tips to ensure that you are fully prepared to get the most out of your adventure:  

  1. One of the first things that you are going to want to do is ensure that you have mobile payment apps downloaded onto your phone, as most tourist sites, restaurants, and transportation only accept contactless mobile payment. In China, the go-to app for this is the popular social networking app WeChat, which has gone from an instant messaging platform to essentially the one and only app that anyone in China needs to have on their phone. Aside from using WeChat to communicate with people while in China, most businesses use the WeChat Pay feature to facilitate easy contactless payment.

  2. Another app that you may want to consider downloading is DiDi, a taxi-booking app to make sure that you can get around without stress!

  3. Finally, consider downloading a translator app with a camera scanner to allow you to read menus, maps, street signs, and more. Some popular apps in China include Waygo or Pleco.

Culturally Immersive Trips to China

Global Family Travels is excited to bring back our journeys to China, after a brief pause during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our immersive China trips are family-friendly and give you the chance to explore some of China’s best-loved destinations, such as the Great Wall, and the famous Terracotta Warriors in Xi'an. Global Family Travels China adventures emphasize authentic cultural immersion experiences to give you a true taste of China and amazing opportunities to live and work with a Chinese family, or volunteer in a Sichuan panda sanctuary, and more!

For more information on Global Family Travels and our China programs, visit this link, or contact us for a custom built adventure!


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