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Spring Festival survival guide

  • Written by Maxim Hua
Those newcomers planning to stay in Nanjing during the Spring Festival holiday should prepare for the city to become a ghost town. Maxim Hua presents a Spring Festival survival guide for those in need. {xtypo_dropcap}F{/xtypo_dropcap}rom Feb 13th to 19th, Nanjing will become a ghost town. A lot of local shops and restaurants will be closed, banks will have limited hours, and the streets will be largely deserted outside of the big commercial areas.

Spring Festival is the most important holiday of the year in China. From the Chinese perspective, it is the connection between the year past and the year coming.

Typically, at this time we celebrate the past year and pray for a fortuitous new year. This is also a time for families to gather together – wherever you are in China and whatever you are working on – for the family connection to be fortified.

Thus, in a country of 1.3 billion people, this is a time of year where bus and train station will be packed full of people, you can count on it!

Limited services

During the Spring Festival holiday, most government officials will be off work, maybe one guy on duty, but only to collect messages. Of course key government positions will be maintained, such as police stations, TV stations, and so on.

Regarding non-governmental businesses, you can be sure that in most cases, they will be closed from Feb. 13th to Feb. 19th.

{tab=Restaurants} Most small restaurants will be closed for at least 7 days. If you happen to live near a student area (for example near Nanjing University or the Nanjing Arts Institute, you can expect the restaurants in the area to adhere to students’ schedules, meaning a closing period of at least 20 days. {tab=Local markets} Most local markets will also be closed, since farmers have a stronger mindset to return home at this time. According to traditions, you can expect them to be closed for at least 15 days, from the 14th onwards.

Fortunately, there are 80 markets that will remain open in the downtown area, mainly. If you’re desperate, head towards Xinjiekou and put on your walking shoes. {tab=Hospitals} Hospitals will have less doctors and nurses on duty, and most pharmacies will also be closed for at least 7 days. In case of an emergency, here is a list of hospitals that will have emergency staff on duty during the holiday period. {tab=Transportation} Taxi drivers will also be working less hours, so you can expect cabs to be sparse.

As for buses, they will keep their normal schedule (from 5-6 am to 10-11pm. {tab=Banks} Banks and post offices will be closed for the entire holiday. {tab=Hellonanjing}The HN team will also be taking a much-needed break, meaning less updates from us until around Feb. 21st.  {/tabs}

What's still open

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Year of the Metal Tiger

The pre-dominant element of the Tiger is wood, so in a Metal Tiger year, there is a conflict between the metal and the wood energies. The wood energy is about future growth, whereas the metal energy is about spiralling in with pin-point precision. Thus, expect adventurous plans to be cut back with conservative thinking controlling blue sky visions.

Tiger years often herald tumultuous times and the big bold cat brings its own sense of uproar. Life can seem hectic and chaotic as you ride the rollercoaster with the ferocious feline. With such an air of excitement there is a lot of enthusiasm for anything that is daring. Watch out for all kinds of ‘mania' and new crazes to hit the streets from out of the blue.

In 2010, look at the year ahead through the eye of the tiger with a steely glint. Tune into the hunter instinct of the tiger, get a good sniff of the scent to follow, whilst keeping a feel of where you are standing and what is right at your feet. Be alert to opportunities for success and prosperity and aware of pitfalls to avoid. Let the boldness of the Tiger empower you towards a bright and dazzling year ahead.

– more info {/typography} Most major supermarkets will operate on normal opening hours.

  • Carrefour: There are 4 Carrefour in Nanjing and all have the same opening hours from the 13th to the 20th: 7am-11pm daily, but closed at 6pm on the 13th.
  • Wal-Mart: normal hours (8am to 10:30pm, but on the 13th, they will close at 9pm. On Feb. 14th they will open from 8am-2pm, and on the 15th they will resume their regular hours. 
All of the fast food places will remain open, including Burger King, McDonald’s, KFC, etc. If you need some fast food delivery, check out our fast food delivery section in the directory.

As for some of the bigger chain restaurants not located inside shopping mall food courts, it depends. Some will open on the 14th and 15th, but many of these will cater to family gatherings only – if you come with a small group, expect higher prices and less attentive service.

Expat establishments

The following will be closed during the holiday:
  • Secco: closed from the 13th to the 19th
  • My Place: closed from Feb 9th to March 2nd
  • Nail Bar: closed from Feb 13th to Feb. 18th
The following will remain open:
  • Castle Bar: open all year round from 20:00 to late, 7 days a week
  • Blue Marlin: open from 10:00am to 2:30am every day
  • Blue Sky: open from 11:00am to 2:00am every day
  • Finnegans Wake: open from 10:30am till late every day
  • Jimmy’s: open from 19:00 or 20:00 till late, possibly closed on the 13th
  • Mazzo: open from 20:00 to 4:00 every day
  • Big Scarlet: open from 20:00 to 2:00 every day

Surival tips

  • Food: if you're staying in town, stock up at a major supermarket with enough food to last you a week.
  • Medicine: If you're a queasy type, buy some basic medicines before the pharmacies close. Handy: Huang Lian Su for diarrhea (黄连素), Ban Lan Gen (板蓝根) and Xiao Chai Hu for fever (小柴胡)
  • Movies: get out of the house an watch a movie if you get cabin fever. Flicks now playing include Avatar, Confucius and Bodyguards & Assassins. Click here for HN cinema listings.
  • Attractions: if the weather is nice and you fancy a walk, Hongshan Zoo (8am-4:30pm daily) and the Sun Yat-Sen Mausoleum (6am-4:30 daily) are two nice options. If not, a third option is the Nanjing Aquarium (open daily during the holiday from 8:30am to 5pm).
  • Meetups: post up in the HN personals if you're looking to hang out with like-minded folk. Keep your eye also on the short notice events and Sichuan (not hotpot) meetup threads.

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