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Top 10 Places to Visit in China in Winter

Winter falls on most parts of China in December and lasts until next February. As China has a vast territory and varied climates, it presents diverse winter scenery in different regions, from icy landscapes in Harbin to tropical views in Sanya. In this article, we will set out an exploration to top 10 places to visit in China in winter. If you are planning a China winter tour, we hope this list can provide you with some inspirations. You can also refer to  How to Plan a Winter Trip to China 2023/2024 to get more useful tips.

1. Harbin: A Wonderland of Ice and Snow

Harbin Ice and Snow World
Harbin Ice and Snow World

Speaking of Harbin, images of snow-covered city will pop into most people’s mind. Nestled in the northernmost part of China, Harbin usually enters its wintertime in November and welcomes the warm spring until the next April. The average temperature in winter is around -15℃. January is traditionally the coldest time of the year, when the temperature drops below -20℃.

 

The frozen bleakness turns Harbin into a world of ice and snow in winter. And the annul Harbin Ice and Snow Festival attracts visitors coming in an endless stream to explore the distinctive charm of this “Ice City”.

 

Top Attractions & Recommended Winter Activities

The city ushers in this wonderful festival on January 5th and the grand celebration usually lasts for almost 2 months to the end of February. During that period, the city will become a sea of rejoicing and festivity, with fancy snow and ice sculptures and colorful activities held at major attractions, such as Harbin Ice and Snow World, Sun Island, Zhaolin Park…

It is the world’s largest amusement park themed of ice and snow, also known as “Ice Disneyland”. Visitors will be amazed by a great variety of buildings and sculptures constructed of ice and snow. Apart from dazzling landscapes, exotic performances and entertainment activities, such as ice sliding, Kart racing, snowmobile, zorbing…, will offer more delights.

It is one of the best winter destinations in China, nestled in Changbai Mountains. Here, quaint wooden houses are blanketed in a thick layer of powdery snow, offering a fairytale-like atmosphere that’s perfect for romantic getaways and family adventures alike.

 

Suggested Trip Length: 3-4 days

 

Recommended Tour: 4 Days Best Harbin Winter Tour

 

2. Yunnan: A Beautiful Place Where Spring Stay
Yunnan Yuanyang Rice Terraces

In contrast to the icy landscapes of northern China, Yunnan, located in the southwest border area, boasts a mild climate all year round. It is really a nice winter destination in China for those seeking a warmer retreat. This region is well-known for the diverse natural beauty, from snow-clad mountains to tropical rainforests, from alpine lakes to stunning terraces.

 

What makes Yunnan unique from other popular tourist cities in China is the colorful ethnic cultures. As home to 25 ethnic minorities, Yunnan houses a lot of ancient cities and towns offering in-depth explorations into distinctive customs and traditions of different nationalities.

 

Top Tourist Destinations to Visit in Winter

  • Kunmingis nicknamed as the “Spring City”, because of the comfortable climate. Flocks of black-headed gulls migrate here each winter and the picturesque Dianchi Lake is the best place for birdwatching. Also, you can’t miss the Stone Forest, which displays karst pillars in various shapes, such as sword, pagoda, mushroom…
  • Lijiang: No one wants to leave the city without visiting Lijiang Old Town. With less tourists in winter, one can better immerse in the distinctive cultural ambience here and admire traditional architectures of Naxi minority. Nature lovers may consider heading to the solemn Jade Dragon Snow Mountainto marvel at the majestic views.
  • Daligains vibrant hues in winter owing to golden and fiery foliage as well as colorful blossoms. The azure Erhai Lake and Cangshan Mountain look even brighter in the crisp winter day, offering a picturesque retreat to spend the day. Besides, visitors can also take on a time travel to Dali Ancient City to explore traditions and culture of Bai minority.
  • Shangri-la, located at an average elevation of around 3,500 meters above sea level, is different from other cities in Yunnan. It is cold in winter and the temperature could drop to below zero. However, visitors are able to take in awe-inspiring snow scenes in Pudacuo National Park, or embrace gorgeous sunrise views at Meili Snow Mountain.

 

Suggested Trip Length: 5-7 days

 

Recommended Tours:

 

3. Sanya: A Tropical Winter Escape

Sanya Shimei Bay
Sanya Shimei Bay

 

Sanya is a beautiful coastal city in the extremely south of China. It is praised as the “Oriental Hawaii” because of the warm tropical climate and graceful sea views. Even in winter, the temperature stays at 25-27℃. The superior weather makes Sanya one of the best places to visit in China in winter, especially for visitors yearning for sun-kissed days in this cold season.

 

Sanya is blessed with a beautiful coastline stretching for over 200 kilometers in total, boasting pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters and abundant sunshine. Yalong Bay and Wuzhizhou Island present the most captivating sea views. Visitors can also explore the underwater world while snorkeling to observe colorful coral reefs and encounter cute tropical fish.

 

Suggested Trip Length: 4-6 days

 

Recommended Tour: Sanya Beach Holiday: 6 Days Surf Class Coffee Factory Tour

 

4. Sichuan: Snow Mountains and Culinary Delights

Chengdu-Pandas
A Lovely Panda

 

Sichuan is a land with profound history and stunning natural landscapes. It is very cold in winter and the temperature often falls to below zero in high altitude areas, such as Jiuzhaigou Valley, Mount Emei and Daocheng Yading. Even so, Sichuan is still one of the best places to visit in China in winter. If you travel to Sichuan in this season, you are just in time to appreciate snow-covered scenery, enjoy hot springs, and indulge in the hot and spicy Sichuan cuisines that could warm you up in the cold weather.

 

Top Attractions & Recommended Winter Activities

  • Jiuzhaigou Valleyturns into a crystal-clear world in winter. The snow-white backdrop makes multiple hues of alpine lakes look even gorgeous. And the frozen waterfalls seem to be giant ice sculptures hanging at the edge of the cliffs.
  • Emeiin winter is as beautiful as paradise. Climb to the top and you will find lofty peaks, plants and buildings all covered with snow. And the iconic Golden Summit will look more splendid against the blue sky and the pure white surroundings.
  • Skiing or Snowboarding at Xiling Snow Mountain could be a once-in-a-lifetime experience with snow-covered natural landscapes passing you by, including alpine meadows, primitive forests, glaciers…

 

Suggested Trip Length: 4-5 days

 

Recommended Tours:

5. Yellow Mountain: A Mystical Snow-Covered Escape 

Huangshan Mountain in Winter
Huangshan Mountain in winter

The winter snow enchants Yellow Mountain into a fairyland, as frost and snow cover all of its lofty peaks and strange-shaped pine trees. You may also find this place as graceful as an elegant ink painting. Just set out a hiking journey in the world of ice and snow. Along the way, you can capture wonderful scenery of snow-covered peaks and rime-coated pines with your camera.

 

Once you reach the top, you will find surrounding mountains are shrouded in clouds and the vast sea of clouds seem to merge with the snowy peaks. This impressive scenery will make you feel like standing in the middle of the sky.

 

Suggested Trip Length: 2-3 days

 

Recommended Tour: 4 Days Huangshan Winter Vacation Tour with Hot Spring

 

6. Guilin: Tranquility on the Li River

Scenery from Xianggong Hill in Guilin
Scenery from Xianggong Hill

Guilin is one of the most popular tourist destinations in China, perfect for a vacation in all seasons. Even in winter, the temperature varies between 8-16℃ in a day, offering a comfortable travel to view lush green landscapes and unique karst topography along the iconic Li River. Taking a cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo is highly recommended as you can fully take in wonderful scenes along the river in a more relaxing way.

 

Yangshuo is renowned for its elegant natural landscape and tranquil pastoral scenes. Upon arrival, there are many ways to enjoy yourself, such as taking a bamboo raft at Yulong River, riding on a scooter along the Ten-Mile Gallery, enjoying distinctive cuisines at West Street…

 

Suggested Trip Length: 3-5 days

 

Recommended Tour: 5 Days Guilin, Yangshuo & Terrace Field Photography Tour

7. Beijing: Explore Ancient Wonders in Winter

Forbidden City Snow Scenery
The Forbidden City in the Snow

The 850 years of capital history has endowed Beijing with magnificent imperial buildings and ancient wonders. As one of the best places to visit in China during winter, the city conveys a distinctly vintage feel, especially when it snows. The white snow seems to erase modern traits inside historical sites, offering a time travel to the splendid past of the city.

 

Beijing in winter also shows a thick breath of life. You may wander along the quaint but lively hutongs and buy some traditional winter treats such as ice-sugar gourd and baked sweet potatoes like locals. If you visit Beijing around the Spring Festival, the festive atmosphere will make for a unique experience for your China tours, where bustling markets, colorful parades, and age-old traditions all come to life.

 

Top Attractions & Recommended Winter Activities

  • Admiring Imperial Architectures, such asForbidden City, Summer Palace, and Temple of Heaven, is the best way to immerse in the profound historical atmosphere of Beijing. Covered by snow, these gorgeous buildings would look even more solemn, taking you back to hundreds of years ago to feel the majesty of the royal family.
  • Hiking on Great Wallin winter brings a totally different experience. At that time, trees on the mountains have lost all of their leaves, making the sharp ridges clearly visible. Against the snow-covered mountains, this ancient wonder looks like a giant dragon turning up and down in the rough “sea”.
  • Skating in city parkshas become an indispensable part of Beijingers’  In winter, lakes in the city all freeze over, forming natural skating rinks. The ones at Shichahai, Beihai Park, Summer Palace and Olympic Forest Park enjoy the most popularity and a variety of activities are available to offer you great delights.

 

Suggested Trip Length: 5-7 days

 

Recommended Tour: 4 Days Beijing Essence Tour

 

8. Shanghai: A Perfect Blend of History and Modernity

the Bund
The Bund Shanghai

 

Shanghai, as one of China’s most modern metropolises, offers a cost-effective travel in winter, which is the off-peak season for tourism. Visitors are able to enjoy reduced expenses on flights, accommodations and entrance tickets during this period. Also, without the usual throngs of tourists, you can take your time to fully explore iconic attractions, such as the Bund, Yu Garden, Nanjing Road and Lujiazui area.

 

Additionally, visiting Shanghai in winter offers a great chance to immerse in the vibrant traditions of Chinese festivals like Chinese New Year, Laba Festival, and Lantern Festival. Colorful folk activities such as lantern show and riddle-solving will be held in landmark sights to add more festivity to the city. If you come to Shanghai during the Spring Festival, do attend the grand Lantern Fair at Yu Garden, which has been a tradition practiced for hundreds of years in Shanghai.

 

Suggested Trip Length: 3-5 days

 

Recommended Tours:

9. Jilin: A Land of Rime and Mystique

Jilin Rime Island
Rime Island in Jilin

Located in northeastern China, Jilin, with an average temperature below -10℃, transforms into a pure white wonderland every winter. What attracts visitors to come to Jilin in such a cold season is its snow-clad vistas and ethereal rime scenery. Rime Island and Changbai Mountain are recommended destinations to take in the wonderful scenes, where tree branches are coated with crystal rimes and the land are covered in snow.

 

Besides, sports enthusiasts will also find Jilin one of the best places to visit in China in winter, as they can content themselves at Beidahu Ski Resort, one of the largest ski resorts in Asia, equipped with 64 high-quality ski trails with a total length of 72 kilometers.

 

Suggested Trip Length: 5-7 days

 

Recommended Tour: 10 Days China Dongbei Tour for Winter Adventure

 

10. Xiamen: Joyful Island Scenery & Slow-Pace Lifestyle

Xiamen Gulangyu Island Beach
Relax on Gulangyu Island Beaches

When the northern China is covered by snow, Xiamen, another ideal place to visit in China in winter, is still as warm as spring with an average temperature of 13°C. The city is a place to unwind and enjoy, especially on Gulangyu Island, a car-free island well-known for its colonial architectures, artistic ambience and romantic island scenery. Just wander along the street under the vernal sunshine or revel in the soft beaches and the sea to immerse in the comfort and coziness of Xiamen.

 

For a taste of nightlife, there are stylish bars, cafes, and restaurants at Zhongshan Road, where you can have a feast of local delicacies like oyster omelettes, spring rolls, stuffed tofu, satay noodles…

 

Recommended Tours:

Popular China winter tour packages to top winter destinations:

 

 

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