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Just south of Shanghai, Zhejiang (浙江) is a stunning province. With great cities like Hangzhou, home to the famous west lake, and Wenzhou, which is famous for having the most difficult dialect of Chinese, there is plenty for the urban explorer to handle. These cities and towns are also home to many famous people in China's long history including poets and architects. Don't just stop in the cities, Zhejiang is home to an amazing coastline with countless islands and beaches, just avoid the typhoon season which can get really bad. If bored of the coast and the cities go inland and explore mountains covered with trees and bamboo forests. Some of China's best remote mountain biking is to be found in these mountains. Overlooked by many travellers, Zhejiang is a great destination.
China has three "Golden Week" holidays per year. People get a mandatory two or three days off work for each holiday, and workers' companies can grant them the rest of the week off, making each holiday a total of 7 days. As you can imagine, having almost 1.4 billion people with the same days off can make travelling at these times arduous to say the least.
Travelling during the Spring Festival/Chinese New Year is incredibly difficult. Chinese New Year is China's Christmas, so the millions of migrant workers and students flood back to their home towns. Everybody else takes the opportunity to spend their hong bao (gifts of money traditionally given at CNY) and go travelling. Most of the time, since you are only allowed to purchase train tickets 6 days in advance and must be present in the city of origin, sometimes only standing room tickets are available. Be aware! The Spring Festival is undoubtedly the busiest time for the Chinese transportation system. Flying will avoid the crowded trains, but book early and expect to pay higher prices. All the main tourist attractions will be crawling with tourists (worse than usual), so unless you like crowds, it's best to avoid it altogether.
Chinese New Year is based on the lunar calendar, so the date changes each year. The Chinese New Year/Spring Festival holiday is 7 days long and usually starts on New Year's Eve.
The two other national holidays are October 1st, National Day, celebrating the founding of the People's Republic of China and May 1st, which is International Labor Day. Almost all Chinese get the two holidays off and many take the opportunity to travel. If you want to avoid the crowds, fly, but it should get a lot less busy towards the end of the week.
Zhejiang has a pleasant climate though summers can be hot and humid. Maximum temperatures during the June to September period are around 30 °C and nights are a balmy 24 °C or 25 °C. Winters last from December to March when it's between 8 °C and 12 °C during the day and still above zero at night. Occasional frost and snow are possible though. Rainfall (or some snow in winter) is possible in all months, though summers see more heavy showers with higher amounts in total.
Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport (HGH) is a major airport with extensive domestic service and some limited international service. All major cities in and most minor cities in China have direct flights from Hangzhou. International flights mainly serve other cities in North East Asia like Tokyo and Seoul. Since May 2010, KLM flies 3 times weekly between Hangzhou and Amsterdam, the first direct flight to Europe. Low-cost carrier Air Asia X operates the Hangzhou - Kuala Lumpur route. To get to and from the airport there are buses to downtown Hangzhou. There are also buses to other areas nearby in Zhejiang and a direct bus to downtown Shanghai.
Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG) has a direct shuttle bus connection to Hangzhou. It costs around 25 RMB. There are airport buses to downtown Hangzhou and Xiaoshan as well as to prefectures further away such as Yiwu.
Hangzhou Train Station (杭州火车站) is a major train hub for the south east coast of China and thus for Zhejiang as well. There are many trains every day to Shanghai and several overnight trains every day to Beijing. Every major city in China is connected to Hangzhou. There are also fast trains to Beijing, Nanjing and Shanghai.
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