A giant annual human migration is underway in China, and it's a bonanza for some but a painful process for others.
Some 2.9 billion trips are expected to be undertaken between the start of China's annual travel season on January 24 and the end on March 3, according to China's transport ministry, with this week leading up to Spring Festival or Lunar New Year, which starts on February 8, being the busiest.
With millions of people on the move for what's traditionally seen as a time of fresh opportunities, the travel season is one of top trending topics on Weibo; posts tagged #2016chunyun, meaning "Spring Festival travel season," feature photos of cramped transport hubs and dish out tips on surviving the journey by avoiding ticketing scams and alleviating motion sickness.
Travel tips alone weren't enough to help as many as 100,000 travelers who were stranded at a railway station in the Chinese city of Guangzhou on Monday and Tuesday after heavy snow delayed trains. State media ran photographs of thousands of people crammed into lines outside the station, with some reportedly queuing for 10 hours or more for transport.
But the travel chaos is a boon for transport apps Didi Kuadi and Uber, which added new features including cross-city ride-sharing services to cash in on the heavy travel period. Although the app-makers continue to face regulatory issues in China, the country's transport ministry said recently that it supported car-pooling - as long as it was not for profit.
According to a real-time travel map by Chinese internet giant Baidu, the Beijing-to-Shanghai route on Wednesday afternoon in Asia was the most heavily traveled across all forms of transport, followed by Xian to Beijing and Shenyang to Beijing.