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  • Rick

Are holidays good times to travel?

Updated: May 2, 2019

"Today just isn't my day."

The Caucasian lady who said that was standing in a local food centre and frowning at a closed stall. That stall is rather famous and many tourists came from all over the world to try its food. I do not know of other things that did not go well for the lady, but missing the chance to try some local food that she had been pinning for after flying thousands of miles sure is disappointing. Well, it's a public holiday, 1st day of May.

Are public holidays really good times to travel? Well, it depends on whether you know what you are doing.

Many people chose to travel during holidays because of work and family commitments (whole family can travel together). And many others do so because they can use lesser annual leaves to go for longer trips. These are the only reasons why people plan their travels around holidays. I used to do that too, but after years of travelling to different places at different times of the year, I learned that not all holidays are really suitable for travelling.

In an earlier post, I did discussed about pre-planning checks that should be considered before deciding on a travel destination or travel period. Checking up on holidays is on that checklist. You may want to read that post before diving in-depth into the pros and cons of travelling during holidays.

Read also:

Why is it necessary to plan for a trip?

My Experiences with Holidays

Before going into details on the types of holiday, here's a glimpse into my travel experiences with holiday encounters:

→ Year 2005, Chinese New Year or Tet in Hanoi, Vietnam. On the eve of the festive season, I visited Halong Bay on a day trip from Hanoi. Halong City was emptied of people, shops were closed and very few vehicles on the road. But everyone crowded at Halong Bay harbour to board the junk boats — that was the only thing left to do in Halong Bay. Knowing that all shops in Hanoi would close for the next 2 days, I took a train to Sapa that night.

Chinese New Year Eve in Halong City, Vietnam, in 2005.

→ Year 2006, Hari Raya Puasa in Ipoh, Malaysia. The old town slept through the holiday with all shops closed and just a few eating places to feed boring visitors. There was not much to do except to visit some temples and caves outside the town.

→ Year 2010, Songkran festival in Phuket, Thailand. I was there to participate in their water-splashing festival. Same year, I was in Chiangmai for their Loy Krathong (see photo at top of this post). Both are popular Thai festivals that attract Thais, from across Thailand, and foreigners every year.

→ Year 2013, before Chinese New Year in China. I did not get to see what it was like during the festival as Chinese travellers were advising me to get out of the country at least 1.5 months before the new year to avoid the annual mass migration. All transport tickets were already sold out for that period. And no point visiting places of interests cramming with millions of locals and China-internal tourists. I went to Taiwan via a ferry service from Xiamen to Kinmen Island and a flight to Taichung. But Taiwan celebrates Chinese New Year too, so I was back at home before the holiday.

→ Year 2015, Labour Day in Malacca, Malaysia. Malaysia was on holiday, Singapore was on holiday, most of the world were on holiday. Unlike the old town of Ipoh, which became a dead town on public holidays, Malacca old town was jam-packed with people and vehicles. No restaurants and places of interest were spared from long queues for at least an hour under the hot sun.

Labour Day in Malacca, Malaysia, in 2015.

These are not all my holiday encounters but they should be enough to paint some pictures.

To plan a fruitful trip, we have to know more about the holidays in our countries and also in the countries we intend to travel to. Even if we are not planning to use holidays to travel, we still need to know if our travel destinations are ha