Today’s Birthday: Guóqìng Jié, 国庆节, or National Day

National Day for China is an official holiday every October 1. It celebrates the founding of the People’s Republic of China on October 1, 1949. It’s since morphed into National Day Golden Week, when everyone in China has a week of vacation. Here’s the post I wrote when we visited China as National Day Golden Week began. – Jadi

I’ll travel pretty much anywhere at the drop of a hat. Go around the world for 7 weeks? Cool! When do we leave? Overnight trip to Munich? Sounds grand, which beer hall do we want to have dinner at?

But. There are times when travel is not   –  quite  –   optimal. The rainy season offers big bargains and great deals for a reason. (Like, you’re going to be wet most of the time.) Another time period to debate traveling in is when other countries have their special holidays. Sure, Christmas Market season anywhere in Germany or areas that have a tradition of a Weihnachtsmarkt is a good time to go. However, a National Day will probably mean shops and sights are closed up tight.

And, trust me on this one, you really don’t want to go to China when it’s National Day Golden Week, and 1.3 BILLION people are on holiday.

They will all be taking their vacations. Spots that are usually crowded anyway are going to be jam-packed. This is not an experience for visitors with weak hearts or fear of crowds.

We learned this the hard way: first-hand. We did this at one of China’s most popular tourist sites: The Terracotta Army in Xi’an.

We got tickets and seats on a tour bus to get to the site. Our charming tour guide pointed to the buildings that house the terracotta army, pointed to the number of our bus, and finally pointed to her watch. No way she was going to push through the crowds in the massive hangars – she’d meet us at the designated time, back on our bus.

And in we went…. To this day I’m not sure what astounded me more. Was it the sheer size and scale of the clay army from 210-209 BC that was discovered in 1974?

This is 1 of 3 hangars and the Chinese are still excavating

Or was it the mass of tourists both foreign and native who completely filled the viewing areas?

Those are streams of visitors lining the windows

One thing I do know for sure. That October trip to China during Golden Week cured whatever claustrophobia I may have once had. If I could survive the crowds we experienced in Beijing, Xi’an and Shanghai, I’ll survive them anywhere.

A small break in the big crowds

NOTES: ©Jadi Campbell 2018. Previously published as The Terracotta and People’s Armies. All photos © Uwe Hartmann. To see more of Uwe’s photos and pics from our trips go to

My books are Broken In: A Novel in Stories, Tsunami Cowboys, Grounded, and The Trail Back Out.

Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award. Broken In: A Novel in Stories was semifinalist for the international 2020 Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award from Hidden River Arts and Finalist for Greece’s 2021 Eyelands Book of the Year Award (Short Stories). The Trail Back Out was the 2023 San Francisco Book Festival Winner for General Fiction, American Book Fest 2020 Best Book Award Finalist: Fiction Anthologies, Runner-Up for the 2021 Top Shelf Award, 2021 IAN Book of the Year Award Short Story Collection Finalist, and awarded a 2021 Wishing Shelf Red Ribbon. The title story The Trail Back Out was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award.

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

4 thoughts on “Today’s Birthday: Guóqìng Jié, 国庆节, or National Day”

  1. I haven’t been in China during Golden Week, but I have been in Japan during Golden Week. At least I knew about it ahead of time and prepared accordingly.
    I’m glad I got to see the Terracotta Warriors and the Forbidden City with just normal size crowds, 🙂

    1. Alison, even knowing about Golden Week ahead of time couldn’t prepare us for the crowds! Glad you go to the Terracotta Warriors with the chance to actually enjoy them!

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