Golden Week's silver lining

Updated: 2015-03-18 07:40

By Yang Feiyue(China Daily)

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Golden Week's silver lining

Tourists visit the Jiulong Waterfall in Luoping, a hot tourist destination in Yunnan province, in March. [Photo provided to China Daily]

More Chinese are realizing the shining side of Spring Festival's Golden Week's exorbitant travel costs-the following two months are a gilded age for budget excursions.

About 18 million Chinese traveled outside the mainland during March and April last year, a 20 percent increase over the same period in 2013, says a Chinese travel expert, who granted an interview on condition of anonymity.

Going on the road in the off-season is a good way to grab great deals.

South Korea and Japan remained the top destinations for post-festival Chinese travelers last year, the expert says.

March and April make up the off-season, when prices bottom out annually, according to Dai Yu, online travel-giant Ctrip's tourism department marketing director.

She explains the price should rebound in May from the first of that month-the May Day holiday-which is followed by summer vacations in schools.

Price cuts are fueled by airline and hotel discounts, Dai explains.

Many travel services are half-price, and some are 80 percent off, she says.

And it's a better time to visit some destinations.

Many cities in China, Japan and South Korea offer extraordinary tree blooms. And the rainy season ends in the United Arab Emirates, Mauritius and Turkey, Dai says.

"Tourists can also enjoy special festivals abroad, such as the cherry-blossom festival in South Korea's Busan," Dai says.

Taiwan's springtime delivers blasts of Oriental cherry blooms at Ali Mountain and of red sandalwood in Kaohsiung.

Domestic travel agencies have launched much cheaper customized travel products.

Ctrip claims domestic long-distance travel and outbound trip prices have plunged after the festival. The booking rates for many outbound trips have exceeded 50 percent.

China CYTS Tours Holding Co also offers 50 percent discounts for many of its group-tour services, compared with the festival period.

Trips to China's neighboring countries, including South Korea, Thailand and Indonesia, have seen prices plummet. Those to countries further afield, including Australia, New Zealand and European locales, have seen prices slashed by 2,000 to 8,000 yuan ($320-1,300), Dai says.

Ctrip's seven-day tour from Beijing to Indonesia's Bali now only costs about 4,000 yuan, after peaking at more than 21,000 yuan during Spring Festival.

Tourists can parasail and jet ski, and enjoy seascapes and polychromatic coral reefs at Pantai Tanjung Benoa, the island's southernmost tip.

The destination also offers beachside seafood barbeques at Jimbaran Beach. Or visitors can reverse roles and feed tropical fish from a boat.

They can also explore the local arts center Ubud to understand the local culture scene. Its shops and museums are packed with paintings, sculptures, music, textiles and photos.

Five-day trips to Japan, four-day trips to South Korea, six-day trips to Thailand and five-day trips to Singapore are now offered for less than 3,000 yuan on Ctrip's website.

Prices for trips from Beijing to domestic destinations, including Hainan, Yunnan and Fujian, have dropped 50 percent during March and April, China International Travel Services East China market tourism department director Zhang Jinyuan says.

Travelers can enjoy a five-day group tour to Hubei's provincial capital Wuhan, the Yangtze River and Hubei's Yichang city to enjoy cherry blossoms at Wuhan University and other traditional tourist attractions, including the Three Gorges.

The same tour from Beijing costs about 2,600 yuan in March and April.

More tourists are likely to visit southern and eastern China in spring, China CYTS Tours Holding Co product manager Jiang Peng says.

Popular Yunnan province-routes are half off, Jiang says.

A four-day group trip by train to Jiangsu's Yangzhou and Zhenjiang now costs 900 yuan from Beijing.

Tourists can traipse along the Slender West Lake and savor royal relics and a special "tea breakfast".

They can set off on Friday, take the high-speed rail and be back on Monday, without needing to take time off work.

More Chinese travelers realize not only that a penny saved is a penny earned but also how to save a pretty penny-and get the most bang for their buck during their leisure time.