It can be a blast to visit a country during one of its national holidays. People are in the mood to celebrate, and you get to experience the country in a unique way. This also means the city you're in could be really crowded, hectic and stressful. Before booking a destination, check for any national holidays you might not be familiar with.
Photo: Tokyo fashion.
This happened to me earlier this year, when my fiance and I went to Tokyo. We happened to go during Golden Week (April 29 to May 5), and while we knew about it beforehand, we didn't expect crowds to be as overwhelming as they were. Most Japanese people are off during Golden Week, so airports, train stations and streets in general were incredibly packed. I still had the best time, but I should have done a little more research to know what we were getting ourselves into.
Aside from Japan's Golden Week, here are a few other destinations with national holidays you might want to avoid, via Oyster.com:
- Siena, Italy: Palio di Siena (July and August): It's a horse race that's held twice a year on 2 July and 16 August. Oyster says the rivalries can make things hairy during the events, and visitors often aren't welcome. "Add in oppressive heat, peak-season rates, and over 60,000 in attendance, and you may do better visiting Siena another time."
- Venice, Italy: Carnival (February): There's a lot of fun stuff going on, but the city is also packed with tourists. Oyster says the weather isn't great and hotel rates are likely to be sky-high.
- Dubai, United Arab Emirates: Ramadan (June and July): They point out that many restaurants and cafes close, so if you're not observing the holiday, you might prefer visiting some other time.
- Hong Kong, China: Golden Week (October): Hong Kong's Golden Week, I'm assuming, is probably also massively crowded. Oyster says not only are crowds huge, flight and hotel rates skyrocket and many stores close.
- Rio de Janiero, Brazil: Carnival (February): Of course, this is a hugely popular time for tourists around the world, so if you're going around this time, chances are, you already know about this. still, it's worth pointing out that everything is significantly more expensive (Oyster says triple or quadruple normal prices for hotels) and their crime rates spike.
Those are just a few, and, as they mention, you might actually prefer to visit a city based on a national holiday. The key takeaway here is to know what might be taking place in your destination city or country, and then plan accordingly. For more detail, check out Oyster's full post.