Yabuli Ski Resort head
Home China Travel Guide How to Plan a Winter Trip to China 2024/2025

How to Plan a Winter Trip to China 2024/2025

Planning a winter trip to China means that you will explore this vast land at lower prices and deal with fewer crowds and shorter lines at popular destinations. Winter is also the time when the country becomes home to a wonderland of enchantment and holiday splendor.

The pristine white expanses, intricate ice and snow sculptures, mystical snow-capped mountains, warm sun, and sandy beaches, along with the profound history of ancient cities weave together an irresistible canvas of diversity in China in winter. More reasons for traveling in China in winter are waiting for your discovery.

This China winter travel guide is going to highlight the spellbinding charm of this season and the essential tips for exploring its diverse wonders. We also listed some popular China winter tours to inspire your travel ideas.

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

Where to Travel in China in Winter

Traveling China in winter, visitors will have many unique and incredible options to choose from. We listed the following best places to travel in China during winter and categorized them to help you make an easier choice.

Iconic Destinations: Home to Classic Attractions of China

Beijing, Xi’an, Shanghai, Chengdu, and Guilin are on the top destination list all year round. They are home to some of the most classic cultural and natural attractions in China. Without the busyness and increased prices in the warmer season, these places offer a more authentic charm in winter.

Beijing:

No long lines to visit the Forbidden City, hutongs and many other imperial heritages, you can delve deep into its history. Hiking on the snow-capped Great Wall will reward you with a magical experience. Beijing also offers many ski resorts with top-notch skiing facilities, such as Zhangjiakou Genting Ski Resort, and Nanshan Ski Resort.

Recommended Beijing Tours for your winter trip:

Mutianyu Great Wall in Winter
Mutianyu Great Wall in Winter

Xian:

The indoor heating systems will shield you from the chill of winter, making it comfortable to visit the museums and the indoor Terracotta Warriors and Horses. If you visit Xian around the Chinese New Year, you’ll get a chance to marvel at the colorful lantern show on the Ancient City Wall, Tang Palace, and squares around the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda.

Recommended Xian Tours for your winter trip:

Shanghai:

In winter, the iconic Bund and museums in Shanghai are as charming as in any other season. Additionally, a winter trip to Shanghai will offer you more opportunities to touch local culture. Festive celebrations are held in various venues during Christmas and New Year. During Chinese New Year, Yuyuan Garden and the City God Temple area will dazzle with colorful lantern displays and traditional performances.

Recommended Shanghai Tours for your winter journey:

Guilin:

Guilin is not so cold in winter, making it a comfortable season to appreciate its natural marvels and ethnic culture. You can a leisurely Li River cruise to marvel at the karst landscapes, enjoy leisure walking, hiking, cycling, or bamboo rafting among the countryside scenery in Yangshuo with more solitude.

Recommended Guilin Tours for your winter journey:

Chengdu:

Chengdu in winter enjoys a milder climate than the northern regions. Winter is the perfect time to spoil yourself with the steaming hot pot or mala tang. The cooler temperature in winter makes the pandas more active in this period. Additionally, Chengdu’s vicinities boast many spots for stunning snow landscapes, including Qingcheng Mountain, Mout Emei, and Jiuzhaigou Valley.

Recommended Chengdu Tours for your winter trip:

Places for Winter Thrills & Snow Scenery in China

Below are the top places for you to immerse yourself in the thrilling snow activities and breathtaking snowscapes in China.

Harbin:

Harbin is famous for the annual Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival featuring exhibitions of jaw-dropping snow and ice sculptures. Some of the sculptures are record-breaking in size. Known as the “ice city”, Harbin is also a haven for fantastic skiing opportunities. It is home to some of the top-level ski resorts.

Yabuli Ski Resort
Yabuli Ski Resort

China Snow Town:

China Snow Town usually experiences heavy snowfall in winter. With the roofs being covered by thick snow, all the wooden houses take on unique mushroom-like shapes. These iconic “snow mushrooms” are a popular subject in visitors’ photos. Besides the snowscapes, Snow Town also offers a variety of winter activities, including sleigh rides, horse-drawn sleighs, snowmobiling, etc.

Jilin:

Can you imagine having a raft ride on a hot spring river, with ethereal rime scenery on both sides? That’s what you can experience at Changbai Mountain in Jilin Province. The mountain is famous for its primeval forest landscapes and Heavenly Lake. In winter, the Heavenly Lake will transform into a frozen vista, truly breathtaking! Besides the natural sightseeing, you can also relax in the hot springs, or challenge yourself in a ski resort with pristine slopes.

Mount Huangshan

Huangshan Mountain is known for its four wonders, which are its oddly-shaped pines, spectacular rocks, sea of clouds, and hot springs. The winter snow scenery is known as the fifth wonder of the mountain, resembling a silver wonderland. In winter, the stunning sea of clouds is more frequently to be seen, and the sunrise view of the golden hue over snow-covered peaks is more beautiful. After mountain hiking, rejuvenating your tired muscles in a local hot spring will give you the ultimate relaxation.

Huangshan Mountain in Winter
Huangshan Mountain in winter

Recommended tours for winter thrills:

Warm-weather Places to Escape the Winter Chill

  • Xiamen: Admire colonial architecture on the car-free Gulangyu Island, explore UENSCO listed temples, and meet the unique Hakka culture through the earthen Tulou buildings, all while enjoying the pleasant weather away from harsh winter cold.
  • Yunnan: In winter, Kunming, Dali and Lijiang welcome visitors with moderate climate, excellent natural beauty, and diverse ethnic cultures.
  • Sanya: A tropical paradise in winter, highlighting abundant sunshine, excellent beaches, lush rainforests, various sea sports, and unique cultural heritage.

What’s the Weather Like in China in Winter

The vast territory and complex topography endowed China with diverse climates, featuring stark contrasts between the north and south in temperature and precipitation.

Winter generally lasts from December to February in most regions of China. The southern areas see a shorter and more moderate winter, while in northern areas, the winter weather is characterized by chilly and arid.

Harbin in northeast China often experiences heavy snowfall and temperatures below -20°C in winter, making it an ideal place for the enchanting snowy landscape and ice and snow sculpture exhibitions.

Beijing and Xian usually undergo a cold and dry winter, but not as harsh as Harbin, with the temperature hovering around -5° – 5°C, and fewer snowfall days. The common central heating systems in the northern cities ensure a comfortable indoor environment.

The diverse topography in Yunnan leads to its various climates in winter. Kunming, Dali and Lijiang are where you can enjoy a spring-like warm winter, with temperatures ranging from 10-20°C. In high-altitude areas such as Shangri-La, the temperature is much lower, but the snow mountain scenery is at its most breathtaking. Xishuangbanna is the southernmost tip of Yunnan is where you can enjoy a tropical paradise rich in Dai culture, with temperatures maintained around 20°C.

To enjoy beach delights and bask in abundant sunshine, you can move a little further south to Sanya where temperature hovers around 20-27°C, and various sea sports and water activities await.

The winter temperature in popular winter destinations in China:

Destination Winter Temperature Range Recommended Clothing
Harbin -24°C to -9°C Down jacket, woolen hat, gloves, scarf, boots
Beijing -8°C to 5°C Coat, sweater, jeans, thermal underwear, shoes
Xian -4°C to 8°C Jacket, sweater, jeans, shoes
Huangshan Mountain -10°C to 5°C Down jacket, woolen hat, gloves, scarf, hiking boots
Mount Emei -6°C to 10°C Down jacket, woolen hat, gloves, scarf, hiking boots
Sanya 18°C to 27°C T-shirt, shorts, sandals, sunglasses

How Long to Plan for Your China Winter Travel

As we mentioned above, China has a plethora of offerings in winter, and the duration of your winter trip in China depends on what destinations and activities you’re keen on.

Generally, for first timers to China, the golden triangle cities, Beijing, Xian, and Shanghai are what you can’t miss. Usually 7-10 days are recommended to cover the best highlights of these iconic destinations.

If time allows, you can also cover the winter wonderland of Harbin in your trip. Consider a 3 to 4 days trip to experience the Ice and Snow Festivals, thrilling icy adventures, and breathtaking snow landscapes in and around Harbin.

If you have more time available and want to cover more of China’s diverse regions, we recommend allocating 2-3 days for each city, depending on the travel pace you prefer.

If planning the trip alone is daunting for you, please feel free to contact our professional travel consultant team regarding your time schedule and preferences, and we will be more than happy to help you customize your perfect winter China trip. Below are some popular China winter tours for your inspiration:

How to Pack for a Winter Trip to China

  • Essential items: passport, Chinese Visa (if required), other valid ID, adapter and charger, back card, and cash.
  • Warm clothing: for cities with low temperatures; down jackets, sweaters, thermal underwear, and padded coats are essential depending on your destinations; hats, scarves, and gloves are also necessary if you plan on a lot of outdoor activities.
  • Layering is key: wear layers to adapt to the changing weather flexibly.
  • Sturdy and non-slip shoes: in case of slippery, icy roads
  • Travel insurance: for any unexpected incidents.
  • Medications: common medications for colds, pain relief, and band-aids.
  • Moisturizers: winter is the dry season for most regions, moisturizing creams and lip balms are recommended.
  • Camera and spare batteries:take breathtaking winter scenery; cold temperatures can reduce battery life, making spare batteries a necessary.

Tips for Traveling to China in Winter

  1. Follow professional guidance and know your limits when doing outdoor activities.
  2. In case of gastrointestinal discomfort, hot meals are the better choices than cold ones.
  3. A balanced diet rich in calories is helpful for you to stay warm in the cold weather.
  4. Despite the low temperature, ultraviolet radiation remains strong; sunscreen and sunglasses are still necessary if engaging in a lot of outdoor adventures.
  5. Fatigue sets in more easily in the cold weather, you’d better plan your itinerary wisely, and keep hydrated and energized during the journey.
  6. Please research the weather of your destination, tourist site schedules, and ticketing policies in advance, since some attractions may close due to heavy snowfall or other extreme conditions.
  7. Camera and phone care in cold temperatures: In cold temperatures, batteries may drain quickly. If you want to take a lot of outdoor photos, don’t forget to take some spare batteries. Also, you can take the camera and phone close to your body or prepare a special camera case to protect them.
  8. Goggles or sunglasses are necessary for long-time * in snowy areas.
  9. Traveling with others is recommended in winter for the unpredictable weather and added safety.
  10. Bring along some common medications, such as cold medicine, pain relievers, disposable iodine swab disinfected cotton swabs, band-aids, etc. Inform your guide and take enough personal medication if you have other chronic conditions.

Popular Festivals in China in Winter

The following festivals may offer you a glimpse into China’s rich culture. If you like, arrange your winter China trip during these times so you can be a part of these vibrant celebrations.

  • Chinese New Year (Spring Festival): The most important holiday in China, Chinese New Year marks the end of the old year by lunar calendar. It is the time when many traditional activities taking place, such as house cleaning, posting couplets, setting off firecrackers, paying respects to elders, etc.
  • Lantern Festival: Celebrated on the 15th day of the first lunar month, it is the end of the Chinese New Year. Lantern exhibitions are held in most cities. People traditionally eat tangyuan (a kind of sweet rice balls) on this day, and solve riddles attached to the lanterns.
  • Harbin Ice and Snow Festival: Held in Harbin, the festival typically open on January 5th and lasts for about one month. The actual duration depends on local weather conditions. Each year, the festival attracts numerous visitors with a variety of exquisite ice and snow sculptures of different sizes and shapes, and thrilling winter activities.

Related Reading for Your Smooth Trip in China

Lost your password?

A TripAdvisor award-winning China travel agency organizing diverse private and mini-group China tours. We offer in-depth experience, free cancellation, flexible & safe trips.

Email

WeChat/Whatsapp

Call

(+86)18792910029
(08:00-21:00 Beijing Time)

Send us a quick inquiry

    I prefer to be contacted via:

    Your travel consultant will reply within 24 hours.