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The Best Time to Visit China

Our weather and events guide to China

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The best times to visit China are in spring, April to May and autumn, September to October, when the days are warm and rainfall and humidity low. However, as you’d expect from the fourth largest country in the world covering 5 times zones, there is also a great deal of variety to consider when planning your China Holiday.

Strictly speaking China has six climate zones but for our purposes we can split it into five:

  • The North, including Beijing, Xian, the Silk Road and Harbin is dry but experiences the most extremes of temperature with very hot summers and extremely cold winters including some snow.
  • The East, including Shanghai and the water towns, is humid and subtropical with cold damp winters and hot humid summers.
  • The South, including Guilin, Yangshuo, Yunnan, Sichuan, Hong Kong and Macau, are sub-tropical with mild winters, but higher humidity and rainfall.
  • The West, including Tibet, has extremely cold winters and dry mild summers.
  • The Central region, including the Yangtze River, experiences extremes of temperature of heat and humidity.

The last thing to consider is national holidays. Chinese New Year and Golden Week are extremely busy times of the year when it feels like the whole country is on the move and the summer school holiday months can also see major attractions very full. Take a look at our month by month guide to see the detail for each region when you want to go.

Once you are happy with your choice you can filter all of our China Tours by departure month – what could be simpler?

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Visiting China in January

January in China can be very cold indeed and we don’t recommend travelling during this period. Temperatures in northern China are especially low, down to minus 9 in Beijing and even lower around Harbin. The east is windy and damp, central China often experiences snow and ice and the west is bitterly cold at altitude. The south is relatively milder but with average highs of just 10 degrees, our advice is to give this month a miss. Chinese New Year generally falls in late January or early February and is to be avoided as most of the country is on the move during this time.

Festivals and Events

  • Harbin Ice Festival

    One of the of the world's biggest winter festivals, Harbin is brought alive with magical ice sculptures and numerous ice and snow events such as skiing, an ice-lantern exhibition, ice golf, and ice archery.

    Fireworks illuminate the sky and the sculptures are lit with multi-coloured floodlights giving the whole area a magical atmosphere.

  • We have no events in January matching your criteria, please update your preferences.

Visiting China in February

Winter is still in full swing in China during February and much of the country is still very cold. Temperatures in Beijing still hover around freezing and you may experience snow on the Great Wall although the region is generally dry with clear skies.

The rest of China is cold and damp during this time although slightly more pleasant in the south and in Yunnan. By the end of the month the first signs of spring are appearing and sites will generally be quieter. Chinese New Year generally falls in late January or early February and is to be avoided as most of the country is on the move during this time.

Festivals and Events

  • Harbin Ice Festival

    One of the of the world's biggest winter festivals, Harbin is brought alive with magical ice sculptures and numerous ice and snow events such as skiing, skating and even ice golf. Fireworks illuminate the sky and the sculptures are lit with multi-coloured floodlights giving the whole area a magical atmosphere.

  • Lantern Festival

    Also called Yuan Xiao Festival, the Lantern Festival dates back over 2,000 years. People light lanterns to pray for their futures and their families, children go out at night carrying paper lanterns and solve riddles on the lanterns and women who are hoping for a child walk under a hanging lantern.

  • We have no events in Feburary matching your criteria, please update your preferences.

Visiting China in March

Spring has arrived, especially in central and southern China, and this is a great time to travel around the country. Temperatures are warming up everywhere although it can still be chilly around Beijing with daytime highs around 12 degrees. Flowers are blossoming and although the cherry blossom season is not such an event as in Japan – it is still a colourful time of the year to visit. The water towns around Shanghai are especially beautiful at this time of year.

Festivals and Events

  • Peach Blossom Festival

    Spring is a beautiful time to visit China with the countryside bursting into colour. The country’s fruit trees are particularly resplendent and a number of Peach Blossom festivals are held all over the country. The most famous is in Shanghai where, along with enjoying the blossom, the parks host music and dance performances.

  • We have no events in March matching your criteria, please update your preferences.

Visiting China in April

April is a great time to visit China with comfortable temperatures almost throughout, perfect for touring and sightseeing. Fruit trees are in full bloom and parks and gardens look spectacular. Although you may experience some rainy days, you may also benefit from beautiful misty conditions around some of China’s magnificent landscapes.

Festivals and Events

  • Peach Blossom Festival

    Spring is a beautiful time to visit China with the countryside bursting into colour. The country’s fruit trees are particularly resplendent and a number of Peach Blossom festivals are held all over the country. The most famous is in Shanghai where, along with enjoying the blossom, the parks host music and dance performances.

  • Qingming Festival

    A three day public holiday the Qingming Festival is also known as the Tomb Sweeping Festival as families visit the tombs of their ancestors and give them a thorough spring clean. Kite flying is also very popular at this time

  • We have no events in April matching your criteria, please update your preferences.

Visiting China in May

May could be one of our top picks for travel in China with warm temperatures and low humidity. You can expect daytime highs in the low to mid-twenties almost everywhere and the countryside is lush and verdant. The greenery provides a great backdrop to sites like the Great Wall and flowers are blooming in the highlands of Yunnan. Tibet and the Silk Road are warm and dry and the south is hotting up with temperatures in the mid to high twenties.

Visiting China in June

Summer arrives in China in June and temperatures start to rise. The temperatures in the north can reach the high twenties but humidity is low and this is still a great time to visit. The mountain air is fresh in Yunnan province and this is one of the best times to be touring in Tibet and on the Silk Road with pleasant days and very little rainfall. Although rainfall and humidity are both higher in the south and east it is still a fascinating time to visit, the rivers are in full flood and paddy fields and terraces glimmer with reflected light.

Festivals and Events

  • Duanwu Festival

    The Dragon Boat Festival has been celebrated for over 2,000 years to commemorate the ancient poet Qu Yuan and has been held in recent times on 5th day of the 5th month of the traditional Chinese calendar, hence the alternative name, the Double Fifth Festival. Dragon boats are raced and sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaves Zongzi and rice wine are consumed. Celebrated all over the country, Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong is one of the easiest places to catch a race.

  • We have no events in June matching your criteria, please update your preferences.

Visiting China in July

July is exceedingly hot just about all over the country. Daytimes highs can reach 40 degrees and central and south China swelter with high humidity. Many Chinese also take their holidays in July so the sites can also be crowded. The only way to escape the heat and humidity is to get some altitude so the mountains of Yunnan province in the west and Tibet are still pleasant to visit.

Visiting China in August

August is hot and wet all over China, even in Beijing and Xian, which receive their highest rainfall this month. Tibet is cooler than the rest of the country but still experiences rainy days. August is also one of the busiest months for the Chinese to travel with many attractions very busy indeed.

Visiting China in September

September is a wonderful month to be travelling almost anywhere in China with comfortable temperatures and humidity falling throughout the month giving rise to very pleasant touring conditions.

Festivals and Events

  • Hungry Ghost Festival

    Due to an ancient belief that ghosts are released from hell to roam the earth during this month, numerous traditions have sprung up to appease them. Fake money is burnt, special ceremonies are performed, incense burned and food is laid out to feed the hungry ghosts. Night time feasts are also often held with an empty place left for the ghost.

  • We have no events in September matching your criteria, please update your preferences.

Visiting China in October

October is an absolutely lovely month to be travelling in China with sunny dry conditions the norm. The north enjoys daytime highs around twenty and whilst the east and south are a little wetter, don’t let that put you off – the conditions are just about perfect. Bear in mind the first week of October is Golden Week, a national holiday in China, so everywhere is extremely busy at this time.

Festivals and Events

  • Golden Week

    China’s National Holiday, also known as Golden Week, occurs on October 1 to commemorate the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. Millions of people return home for this holiday so transport, accommodation and attractions are extremely busy.

  • Mid-autumn Festival

    Also called Moon Festival, the mid-autumn festival is the second most important festival in China, after Chinese New Year. Traditionally, families gather together and enjoy a dinner with mooncakes, and worship the moon with gifts and lighting lanterns

  • We have no events in October matching your criteria, please update your preferences.

Visiting China in November

Temperatures are falling in November, especially in the north (Beijing experiences daytime highs around 10 degrees) and days are definitely crisper. Skies are wonderfully clear and the crowds have disappeared making this a good time to be exploring the country. The autumn foliage is in full flow so the landscapes look particularly colourful. In the south temperatures are still very pleasant and rainfall is low.

Visiting China in December

December is cold almost all over China, the north extremely so; you might encounter snow in Beijing or Xian. Although the temperature graphs look more enticing in the south, the wetter conditions can make travelling here during this time very gloomy indeed.

Festivals and Events

  • Dongzhi Festival

    The Winter Solstice Festival is held on the shortest day of the year to mark the turning of the seasons. Visits are made to temples and special foods eaten, dumplings in the north, wontons or glutinous rice in the south.

  • We have no events in December matching your criteria