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Laura Lindsay from Lonely Planet answers your travel questions

I’m thinking of visiting China over the Chinese New Year. I’ve not been before and would like to take part in the celebrations. Do you have any tips for the trip? Barbara, via email

Chinese New Year will fall on February 10, 2013, but a host of traditions and feasts take place during the 15 days following it. This is an incredible time to visit China; the atmosphere is spectacular and you can expect to see lots of celebrations and fireworks.

The lantern festival on the 15th day of the Chinese New Year is one of the most vibrant events. People illuminate thousands of paper lanterns, hanging them from buildings and carrying them in the streets, making quite a spectacle. 

As travel is more difficult than usual at this time, I would recommend choosing one of the major cities where there are a number of events and staying there for the duration of the celebrations.

Shanghai is a great option as it has one of the most impressive lantern festivals, and there is also an elaborate firework display at midnight on the eve of Chinese New Year and again on the fifth day of New Year.

Hong Kong is another good choice as it holds a parade on the first day of Chinese New Year, fireworks on the second and horse racing on the third.

Bear in mind that this is the busiest time to visit China. Think of travel at this time as you would at Christmas in the UK. Be sure to book as much in advance as possible – this includes accommodation and restaurants.

I’m travelling to the Republic of Georgia for seven days in the last week of November. It’ll be my first time in the country – is it too cold during that period? Is it worth travelling outside Tbilisi? And is it worth visiting Vladikavkaz in Russia while I’m in the region? Pedro, via email

Georgia won’t be unbearably cold in November, but it will be chilly with temperatures between 5-14°C. Tbilisi itself has lots to offer; the old town is a charming collection of leaning houses and stone churches, juxtaposed against the ultra-modern Presidential Palace and Peace Bridge crossing the Mtkvari River.

There’s plenty to keep you occupied, particularly if you arrive during Giorgoba (the St George’s Day celebration on November 23), which creates widespread jubilations across the city.

Outside of Tbilisi, Davit Gareja, to the south, is worth visiting for its collection of monasteries in a unique, barren landscape. You can visit the site during a day trip from Tbilisi. Take a marshrutka (minibus) to Sagarejo and an onward taxi from there. This should cost you half the price of a taxi all the way from Tbilisi.

Next up, travel four hours by bus southwest to Akhaltsikhe. The city is a good base from which to explore Vardzia, a medieval city carved out of a cliff, which is accessible by marshrutka (1.5 hours each way).

I would advise against travelling to Vladikavkaz as the region you would need to travel through, South Ossetia, is suffering from political unrest and should be avoided.

Lonely Planet’s Laura Lindsay will give you the benefit of her infinite wisdom if you email a question to
traveltips@tntmagazine.com.
 

If your question is answered, you’ll win a Lonely Planet guide of your choice.

 

Image: Getty

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Get expert tips for travelling through the Republic of Georgia and visiting China during the Chinese New Year
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