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Spring Festival Survival Tips

Our Guide to Surviving Spring Festival


“Spring Festival Sucks!” Shouted a foreign man in a dive bar in Sanlitun, Beijing. Chinese New Year is just around the corner and similar opinions are being spouted by laowai around the nation.

Ah, the fireworks, the feasting, seven-days holiday, Spring Festival is supposed to be fun isn’t it? Apparently not when you are stuck in town and everyone is away traveling to exotic climes, leaving you desperately wandering the streets with nothing to do the temperature outside way, way below zero.

Hide yo’ wife, hide yo’ kids, ’cause this is the Spring Festival Apocalypse! Whether you are on a budget, stuck in town with work, or just wanting to have a staycation, here are some of our tips on surviving the Spring Festival Apocalypse.

1. Arrange an (Anti-)New Year Party
You are not going to be the only one staying in the city. Why not build an army of people with the same skeptical views as you and arrange an Anti-New Year Party? We are not talking about some serious, political monkey business here. But, quite simply, a rendezvous you arrange at home. On New Year’s Eve, there will be no watching the CCTV Gala, no dumplings, no hongbao. Keep it simple: quality time with friends. Pizza. Booze. Bring it on!

2. Eat Master your Dumpling Connoisseur Skills

image: Absolute China

image: Absolute China

If you choose to awkwardly join one of your Chinese friends’ family dinner, then, don’t be a lame-ass foreigner. You still have some time until the New Year;  impress your host with your dumpling-making skills. Know your dumplings! Here is a guide that has all you need to know about dumplings: Dumplings 101.

3. Not a foodie? Try Baiijiu.

Image: jtgeek

Image: jtgeek

Before you pass judgement on what is a furiously strong booze, you have to learn to understand Baijiu in terms of its taste and smell; you have to understand how to appreciate the beauty of baijiu. Sex on the Beach, Pina Colada? Sure but you are going to create your own Baijiu cocktails. Nothing’s more exotic than when East meets the West. Not surprisingly, these will blow your mind, and knock you out:

Sex on the Beach:
1 ounce baijiu
3/4 ounce peach schnapps
1/2 ounce creme de cassis
2 ounces orange juice
2 ounces cranberry juice
Orange slice and maraschino cherry for garnish

Choco Baijiu (yes, really):
1 ounce baijiu
1 1/2 ounces creme de cacao
Hershey Hug or Kiss for garnish
Powdered cocoa for rimming

Baijiu Colada:
2 oz pineapple juice
1 oz baijiu
1 1/2 oz cream of coconut
Pineapple wedge for garnish
Maraschino cherry for garnish

And when cocktailing it up, why not try these Traditional Chinese Drinking games?

4. Make yourself at home in a bar
Head to your local bar and share the New Year’s joy with idle visitors and the waiters who couldn’t get home. Pack whatever you find fun: a PSP, a Wii, or even just simple board games, and ask your new friends to join you.

5. Roam the streets like you’re Spartacus… Or Sunzi

Source: Shandong Travel Bureau

Source: Shandong Travel Bureau

It’s the only time of the year where the city’s streets are not filled with honking cars and buzzing traffic. Buy a skateboard, roller skates, or a bike, and just have a random marathon, completely roaming the empty street on your own, shouting: “I am Spartacus!” Or perhaps, the Chinese culture equivalent; “Wǒ shì sūnzi!” (我是孙子)!

6. Learn a new Chinese hobby or craft.

Image: Chessbase

Image: Chessbase

Seriously, it’s Spring Festival soon and you still don’t know how to play Chinese Chess or
draw Caligraphy, or even kick some Shuttlecock? Man-up and learn you wuss!

7. Random Speed Dating!

Image: China Daily

Image: China Daily

Come on, admit it. It is a festive holiday and you are all alone. So, try a random speed date with a hot local. Politely go up to somebody in a bar and strike up a conversation. You don’t speak Chinese? Don’t worry, we’ve got your back:

Hey, Sorry to disturb you:Nǐ hǎo, bù hǎoyìsi dǎrǎo nǐ yīxià (你好,不好意思打扰你一下)
What’s your name? Nǐ jiào shénme míngzì? (你叫什么名字)
What are you doing this holiday? Nǐ fàngjià de shíhou yǒu shé me dǎsuàn? (你放假的时候有什么打算?)
How do you celebrate New Year?:Nǐ zěnme guònián? (你怎么过年?)
What’s your number?Nǐ de shǒujī hàomǎ shì duōshǎo? (你的手机号码是多少?)
Let’s meet up tomorrow, ok?:Wǒmen míngtiān jiànmiàn, hǎobù hǎo? (我们明天见面,好不好?)
Are you free tonight?: Nǐ jīn wǎn yǒu kòngr ma? (你今晚有空儿吗?)
Let’s have a drink!: Wǒmen yīqǐ hējiǔ bā! (我们一起喝酒吧!)
Happy New Year! / Happy Spring Festival!Xīnnián kuàilè! /Chūnjié kuàilè! (新年快乐! / 春节快乐!)

8. A day with Shifu
Sometimes a taxi driver or even black taxi driver can be a good companion when you feel alone in the city. Some of them are surprisingly intellectual and can talk about anything from Soviet Communism to the Cultural Revolution. So, don’t be shy. Spend a bit more and pamper yourself; find your Mr. Right and negotiate a price, ask the shifu to give you the full package: a no expenses spared tour of the whole city. Who knows,  you might just end up with a free New Year’s dinner or even a great new friend.

9. Light firecrackers!

Image: Beijing Gov

Image: Beijing Gov

When all else fails, buy some mega-crackers and do it like a pro, or, in this case, like a Chinese. According to China Daily, a total of 313,000 cartons of fireworks were sold during Spring Festival in Beijing last year, and three major fireworks companies in Beijing already plan to stock 643,000 cartons of fireworks this year. When everything else is already red-colored, just be careful not to set yourself on fire.

10. Write yourself a rap
springfest beijingstateofmind_master
So, you have considered our survival guide and made yourself a plan. What’s next? Well, a lot of us have put our hands-up in the air and sung along to Beijing State of Mind, and a few of us have learned about Chinese economic development with “Mo Money Mo 发展”. This year, it’s your turn to make a breakthrough and make a rap about how you survived the Spring Festival Apocalypse. So get on it, now!


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