Asia has welcomed the Lunar Year of the Pig with visits to temples, family banquets and the world's biggest travel spree.

The streets of Beijing and other major Chinese cities were quiet and empty yesterday after millions of people left to visit relatives or travel abroad during the year's biggest family holiday.

Families gathered at home for banquets. Shops, companies and government offices closed for the week.

People hold sticks of incense as they pray at the Lama Temple in Beijing. Photo / AP
People hold sticks of incense as they pray at the Lama Temple in Beijing. Photo / AP

In Hong Kong, worshippers stood in line for hours at the Wong Tai Sin Temple to welcome the lunar new year by lighting incense.

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China's Railway Ministry forecast mainland travellers would make 413 million trips during the three-week period around the holiday.

- AP