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Best Time to Visit China: Weather by Season & Month

Stretching multiple climate zones from north to south and east to west, the best time to visit China varies by location. For example, in northern cities like Beijing and Xian, spring and autumn are the best seasons to travel weather-wise, when the climate is pleasant during these periods. In southern cities like Hangzhou, Kunming, and Guilin, the scenery is picturesque throughout the year. In the western plateau areas like Tibet, summer is more comfortable and enchanting when the glorious sunshine bathes the highlands in its golden glow.

Follow our guide to discover when is the best time to travel to China and the best time to different destinations in this magical land.

Hangzhou West Lake Boat Trip
Enjoy a leisure cruise on West Lake

China Travel Guide by Season & Month

If seeking the perfect balance of pleasant weather and stunning natural beauty, spring, and autumn stand out as the best time to visit China.

Naturally, the specific choice of timing should still be based on your travel preferences and the destinations you plan to visit. Given the variability of the country’s seasonal weather, each season will offer visitors unique and charming scenery and experiences.

Before deciding when to travel to China, gaining valuable insights into the temperature, rainfall, and other factors in different seasons and months will help you make the most of your visit to China. Since the weather varies greatly by region and year, we just provided the general conditions for your reference.

Travel to China in Spring (March to May)

Lasting from March to May, spring is a delightful season and one of the best times of year to visit China. When the temperatures are gradually warming up and flora is undergoing a revival during this time, it is the perfect season for outdoor adventures and flower appreciation.

This is one of the best times to visit Beijing for Great Wall hiking. Late March to early April is particularly enchanting, when the flower blossoms are fully expanded, and the occasional misty rain makes the Jiangnan region more elegant and picturesque.

Still, you need to note that temperature fluctuations may still occur, and brief periods of rain and thunderstorms are not rare to see at this time.

Recommended Spring China Tours:

Jinji Hills in Luoping
Jinji Hills

Weather & Travel Guide in March

  • Weather: Average temperatures gradually rise in this month, hovering around 3℃ – 15℃. The average temperature during the day is around 13°C. Northern areas still see large temperature differences between day and night. Precipitation in March is usually abundant, with the southern regions receiving relatively more rainfall.
  • What to wear: Layering is always the key so you can easily adjust to changes in temperature. Down jackets or wool coats are still necessary in northern areas, while lighter jackets or trench coats are sufficient in the south.
  • Recommended activities: Great Wall hiking in Beijing, Yangtze River cruise, flower appreciation in Luoping, Wuyuan, Pingba in Guizhou, and West Lake in Hangzhou.

Weather & Travel Guide in April

  • Weather: Average temperature ranges around 13.2℃ in April, with the average day temperature being around 20℃, and the average night temperature being around 9℃. The average precipitation is a little more than in March.
  • What to wear: Light spring clothing such as single-layer cotton-linen garments, T-shirts, sweaters, and trousers are good choices. A thin coat or windbreaker is also recommended due to the changeable weather.
  • Recommended activities: Sightseeing and photography in Guilin, Chengdu, Beijing, and Huangshan Mountain, admiring the peonies in Luoyang, and blooming jacaranda trees in Kunming, Yunnan, etc.

Weather & Travel Guide in May

  • Weather: The average temperature in May hovers around 16.9℃, and the average day and night temperatures are 25℃ and 13℃ respectively. The average precipitation is around 57-60 millimeters, similar to April’s.
  • What to wear: Lightweight and breathable clothing are better choices, such as T-shirts, thin skirts or dresses, light jackets, etc. Sunscreen and sunglasses are also essential in this month considering the commonly strong sunshine.
  • Recommended activities: A great time to visit Xian and Beijing for historical landmarks, hiking at Huangshan Mountain, Mt. Emei, Jiuzhaigou Valley, seaside vacations in Xiamen or Guangdong, etc.

Travel to China in Summer (June – August)

Summer in China means you can expect plenty of hot weather as well as rain, especially in July and August when daytime temperatures often exceed 30°C. Some inland areas may encounter extreme weather conditions, such as Turpan in Xinjiang, which may see temperatures reaching over 40°C.

Due to the influence of the monsoon, most regions of the country are well into the rainy season, especially in south coastal areas where frequent rainfall and the possibility of typhoon weather can occur.

July to August is the school holiday in China, marking it the peak tourist season. Traveling in June is a good choice to avoid the crowds.

Summer is the best time to visit Tibet and Qinghai, the seaside Qingdao and Dalian, and the grasslands in Inner Mongolia.

Recommended Summer China Tours:

 

Potala Palace Lhasa Tibet
Potala Palace in Lhasa

Weather and Travel Guide in June

  • Weather: June marks the beginning of summer in China, with the average temperature hovering around 21℃. It is a time when the southern regions enter the plum rain season, with more than 10 rainy days on average. The northern part sees a combination of dry and strong daytime sunshine, alongside a significant temperature difference between day and night.
  • What to wear: Lightweight and breathable clothing for the hot temperatures; a small umbrella or rain jacket for rainy days; sunscreen, hats and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun.
  • Recommended activities: Attractions in Beijing, Xian, Shanghai, Chengdu when they are still not that busy; photography in Xinjiang with dreamlike fields of blooming lavender; stunning scenery in Guilin; outdoor activities like hiking, rafting, cycling, and camping.

Weather and Travel Guide in July

  • Weather: July is the peak of the hot summer in China, with consistently high temperatures and intense sunshine during the day. It is a time when most regions are oppressively hot, in many cities, the daily maximum often exceeds 35℃. July also marks the typhoon season in southern coastal areas, with heavy rainfall accompanied.
  • What to wear:  Lightweight and breathable clothing for the hot temperatures; a small umbrella or rain jacket for rainy days; sunscreen, hats and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun.
  • Recommended activities: Considering the high temperature, it is a good ideal to prioritize visiting places that are relatively cooler and with beautiful natural scenery, such as Hulunbuir Grassland in Inner Mongolia, Huangguoshu Waterfall in Guizhou, Ganzi, Xinjiang and Tibet.

Weather and Travel Guide in August

  • Weather: August is a very similar story to June in terms of weather, featuring consistently high temperatures and frequent rainy days across the country.
  • What to wear:  Lightweight and breathable clothing for the hot temperatures; a small umbrella or rain jacket for rainy days; sunscreen, hats and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun.
  • Recommended activities: places with cooler weather and stunning natural beauty are still the top choices, such as Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, and Guizhou; Sanya and Xiamen are also great choices for waterfront delights.

Travel to China in Autumn (September – November)

Autumn is the harvest season in China, with temperatures gradually cooling and the rainy season starting to taper off.

In the north, bright days are common and daytime temperatures are cooler, with daytime temperatures hovering around 20-25°C in most places. Only occasional rain showers occur.

In the south, the temperatures decline slower than in the north, and days remain warm. Coastal areas still see frequent rainfalls, and even typhoons in this season.

The top iconic cities like Beijing, Xian, Shanghai, Guilin, Chengdu, Zhangjiajie are all delightful places to visit in autumn. Additionally, it is a good time to enjoy hiking and admire colorful foliage in Kanas Lake of Xinjiang, Western Sichuan, Changbaishan Mountain, etc.

Recommended Autumn China Tours:

Longji Rice Terraces in Autumn
Longji Rice Terraces in Autumn

Weather and Travel Guide in September

  • Weather: In northern regions, daytime temperatures range from 20 – 25°C, clear days are common with around 5-9 rainy days on average; in southern regions, daytime temperatures hover around 30°C, with around 7-12 rainy days on average.
  • What to wear: Light and breathable clothing is still comfortable in southern regions; long-sleeve shirts, lightweight sweaters, thin coats, or windbreakers are suitable for northern regions.
  • Recommended activities: An ideal time to visit Guilin for karst landscape and rice terraced fields. Hiking and photography in Kanas in Xinjiang, Wuyuan in Jiangxi, Ejin Banner in Inner Mongolia, and Jiuzhaigou Valley in Sichuan are all recommended.

Weather and Travel Guide in October

  • Weather: Most northern regions are in the late autumn, with daytime temperatures hovering around 15 – 20°C. In northeast regions, temperatures may drop below 0°C in late October. Southern regions still see a relatively warm season, with daytime temperatures often exceeding 20°C. Rainy days are infrequent across the country, with only 4-8 rainy days on average.
  • What to wear: Warm clothes such as long-sleeve shirts, sweaters, jeans, and thick jackets are recommended in northern cities; lightweight long-sleeve clothing, thin jackets, or windbreakers are good choices when visiting southern cities.
  • Recommended activities: Hiking, photography, and autumn scenery sightseeing in Huangshan Mountain, Kanas Lake in Xinjiang, Lijiang in Yunnan, Jiuzhaigou Valley, etc.

Weather and Travel Guide in November

Weather: Northern regions: characterized by a cold and dry climate, with average temperatures being around 5-10℃, about 1-5 rainy days; Southern regions: still warm, average daytime temperatures around 15-20℃, with moderate rainfall.

What to wear: Northern regions: sweaters, base layers, down jackets or woolen coats; Southern regions: Long-sleeve clothing, thin jackets, or wind breakers. A slightly thicker outer layer is recommended.

Recommended activities: Enjoying red leaves at Fragrant Hills in Beijing, golden ginkgo leaves and hot spring in Tengchong, cherry blossom in Lijiang, etc. This is also one of the best times to visit Shanghai for comfortable weather and less crowds.

Travel to China in Winter (December – February)

Winer is a mixed bag in terms of weather. Most regions are characterized by low temperatures. The northern regions typically fall below freezing, the northeast areas particularly, experience extreme lows in temperature and common snowfalls. Southern regions also experience drops in temperatures, yet generally remain above freezing.

Harbin is a top choice for a China tour in winter, offering intricate ice and snow sculptures, stunning snow scenery, and thrilling snow activities. Winter is also the ideal time to witness mesmerizing sea of clouds at Huangshan. Sanya and Yunnan are the top places to escape the winter chill.

Recommended China Winter Tours:

Ice and Snow World in Harbin
Ice and Snow World in the evening

Weather and Travel Guide in December

Weather: Average temperatures range between -2-7℃. Northern regions: frequent snowfall, prolonged and severe cold in northeast areas. Southern regions: relatively warm, but still chill, high humidity.

What to wear: Northern regions: Warm clothing such as Down jackets, woolen coats, padded jackets, thermal innerwear, thick jeans, wool trousers, hats, scarves, and gloves; Southern regions: moisture-resistant clothing is recommended, cardigans, windbreakers,  Long-sleeve shirts and lightweight sweaters.

Recommended activities: Chasing winter thrills in Harbin, Snow Town, Jilin; Seeking warm sunshine in Hainan and Yunnan; Immersing in the history of Beijing and Xi’an.

Weather and Travel Guide in January

  • Weather: Average temperatures range between -5-5℃. Northern regions: average temperatures are around -5℃, northeast regions may drop below -15℃, with frequent snowfall. Southern regions: rain, snow, and foggy conditions, average temperatures range between 5-15℃.
  • What to Wear: Dress in warm layers akin to those worn in December.
  • Recommended activities: Join in various winter activities in Harbin and Changchun, and folk activities during Chinese New Year; Enjoy hot spring getaways; Admire magnificent snow-capped mountains in Tibet.

Weather and Travel Guide in February

  • Weather: Temperatures gradually rise in the month as spring is approaching.Northern regions: average temperatures range between -2°C – 8°C, with reduced snowfall. Southern regions: average temperatures range between 6℃-14℃, with occasional rainy days and haze.
  • What to wear: Wear slightly thinner outerwear and layers compared to January.
  • Recommended activities: Flower appreciation in Luoping, cultural experience in Lijiang, hiking and sightseeing in Jiuzhaigou Valley.

Worst Time to Visit China

Thanks to its varied climate, China is suitable to visit all year round. Yet, below are some times to avoid to visit China to ensure you enjoy your trip to the fullest.

May Day (Labor Day) and National Day:

The Labor Day Holiday from May 1st to May 3rd and National Day from October 1st to October 7th are two long public holidays in China when many domestic tourists choose to travel. It is the time when major attractions see large crowds and the train tickets, flight tickets and hotels are hard to get. The costs for dining, accommodation and transportation are overall higher during these periods.

July and August in Southern Regions:

July and August are the months when most souther regions experience the peak hot summer, with high temperatures and heavy rainfall. Some coastal areas may face typhoons during this time.

Specific Destination Considerations

Since some travel destinations may have their own unfavorable times, you’d better take these factors into consideration when planning your China tours. For instance, May and June are the rainy season in Guilin when Li River’s water level rises, and affects the clearness of the river. Xiamen may encounter typhoons in July and August, and chilly weather during December to February.

Useful China Travel Tips

  • Avoid Public Holidays in China: avoid visiting China during the long public holidays, such as Labor Day, National Day, and Chinese New Year if you prefer avoiding crowds. These holidays are when the major attractions are inundated with Chinese tourists.
  • Spring Blossoms: Visit Jiangnan (known for rapeseed flowers), Beijing (for peach blossoms), or Yunnan (for rhododendrons) to enjoy flower blooming in spring.
  • Summer Escapes: High-altitude areas such as Qinghai, Tibet, and Guizhou are recommended places to escapes summer heat.
  • Autumn Foliage: Tengchong in Yunnan, Fragrant Hills in Beijing, colorful forests in Jiuzhaigou Valley, Kanas Lake in Xinjiang are top choice to appreciate stunning red foliage in autumn.
  • Winter Sports: Consider visiting Harbin and Changbaishan Mountain in northeast China for thrilling winter sports.
  • Bring Clothing Accordingly: It’s never a bad idea to check the latest weather forecasts for your destination, so you can plan and pack outfits accordingly.
  • Usually, foreigners must apply for a Chinese visa before setting out a visit, here is the guide for the China Visa Application Requirements.

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