Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2020, Vol. 30 ›› Issue (12): 1943-1962.doi: 10.1007/s11442-020-1821-9

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Exploring temporal heterogeneity in an intercity travel network: A comparative study between weekdays and holidays in China

LI Tao1,2(), WANG Jiaoe2,3,*(), HUANG Jie2, GAO Xingchuan2   

  1. 1. Northwest Land and Resource Research Center, Shaanxi Normal University, Xi'an 710119, China
    2. Key Laboratory of Regional Sustainable Development Modeling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    3. College of Resources and Environment, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2020-09-02 Accepted:2020-10-30 Online:2020-12-25 Published:2021-02-25
  • Contact: WANG Jiaoe;
  • About author:Li Tao, PhD and Associate Professor, specialized in transport geography. E-mail:
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(41501120);National Natural Science Foundation of China(41722103);The Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities(18SZYB01);China Postdoctoral Science Foundation(2020M670429)


A largely unexplored application of “Big Data” in urban contexts is using human mobility data to study temporal heterogeneity in intercity travel networks. Hence, this paper explores China’s intercity travel patterns and their dynamics, with a comparison between weekdays and holidays, to contribute to our understanding of these phenomena. Using passenger travel data inferred from Tencent Location Big Data during weekdays (April 11-15, 2016) and National Golden Week (October 1-7, 2016), we compare the spatial patterns of Chinese intercity travel on weekdays and during Golden Week. The results show that the average daily intercity travel during Golden Week is significantly higher than that during weekdays, but the travel distance and degree of network clustering are significantly lower. This indicates temporal heterogeneity in mapping the intercity travel network. On weekdays, the three major cities of Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou take prominent core positions, while cities that are tourism destinations or transportation hubs are more attractive during Golden Week. The reasons behind these findings can be explained by geographical proximity, administrative division (proximity of cultural and policy systems), travel distance, and travel purposes.

Key words: big data, weekdays, National Golden Week, human mobility, travel time heterogeneity, China