Expert Travel Tips for a Safe and Healthy Chinese New Year

26 January 2017 ,  —


  • With more than 3 billion trips expected on roads, trains, planes and ships at peak between now and 5 Feb, good preparation is key to ensuring a healthy, safe and happy Chinese New Year.
  • Huge crowds can cause travel delays and pose potential security risks.

cny lantern main picture

With over a billion people, including over 800,0001 business travellers and international assignees, about to enjoy the celebrations of the lunar New Year festival to welcome in in Year of the Rooster, International SOS and Control Risks offer tips to keep both travellers and those staying at home in China safe, secure and healthy. 

“After a hardworking year, it makes sense that people would like to make the most out of the holidays to relax and enjoy the festival with family and friends”, said Dr. Shu Zhang, Medical Director for International SOS China. “However, it is important to remind people that risks will be all around this festive season with increased traffic on the road, the flu season in the northern hemisphere, and medical institutions  working reduced operations over the  holiday period .”

With huge numbers of people travelling, crowds pose potential risks to those on the move and those staying in their resident city. 

Tony Ma, Director, Client Liaison for International SOS and Control Risks in China said, “Whilst China is generally a safe place, it is expected that petty crime will surge particularly in crowded gatherings such as in public transport hubs, tourist sites and when visiting the temple fairs, a popular tradition during the Chinese New Year. Planning ahead and staying vigilant is critical to minimise risks during this time.”

Top tips to keep in mind:

  • Preparation is essential – plan your schedule, book tickets, check local news and security alerts and leave plenty of time to get to your destination.
  • Stay alert in crowds – where possible, avoid crowded places and if you do find yourself in a crowd, remain vigilant, with a planned exit route if necessary. Theft and petty crimes can be prevalent in crowds so be on your guard and make sure your possessions and valuables are in a safe place.
  • Pollution – air pollution may be worse than usual, exacerbated by fireworks. People who have underlying health conditions which are affected by poor air quality should minimise time and activities outdoors. Respirators can reduce the amount of inhaled pollutants, however see your doctor for an individual recommendation. 
  • Keep copies – copy essential travel documents including your passport, insurance documents and details of any medication. 
  • Medical services - during the holiday season, hospitals and clinics in China will have reduced staff and services, so it’s prudent to check the schedule of available services in your local hospital.
  • Watch out for fireworks – fireworks are very popular so make sure you’re following instructions if using fireworks and stay alert in public places where fireworks may be used.
  • Be careful on the roads – every year over 1.24 million people die globally in traffic accidents. During the Chinese New Year the numbers of cars and people on the roads will dramatically increase at the beginning and end of the festival, and at popular tourist spots so additional vigilance is advised. 
  • Be vigilant of taxis – even for locals, taxis in China can be a problem. Generally, it is more convenient for foreign visitors to pre-arrange a pick-up. If you must take a taxi, ensure that you have the destination address written down and tell others about your journey. Always insist that the driver uses a meter and never use an unlicensed taxi.
  • Healthy – Chinese New Year is in the midst of the Northern Hemisphere’s flu season. Ensure you see your travel health doctor a few weeks before departure, and get a flu shot as well as other pre-travel vaccinations recommended for your destination.  While travelling, pay attention to routine hygiene - regularly wash your hands and minimise touching your face. Although the risk of bird flu is low, avoid poultry markets, and contact with birds and other animals.

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About International SOS and Control Risks

Our alliance brings together two of the world’s leading medical and security specialists, International SOS and Control Risks. Our combined resources and expertise are well placed to meet the customers’ growing need for integrated travel security risk services. Our solutions ensure that mobile employees are safe and productive and help employers with their duty of care obligations. 50 dedicated experts, located across the globe with access to over 200 dedicated travel security experts through 26 regional Assistance Centres and a partner network of over 700 accredited providers, produce global travel security information and analysis 24/7. We also provide travel security training, preventative travel assessment, support with the development of travel security risk policies, evacuation plans and the latest technology to enable clients to track and communicate with their mobile employees.


1Annual Report on Chinese International Migration (2015) issued by the Center for China and Globalization (CCG).