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The best time to visit China is during spring or autumn. The weather tends to be warm and dry during these periods, in contrast to the bitterly cold winters and hot, humid summers experienced in much of the country. China’s sheer size, however, means there are no true limitations for travel, and with one or two exceptions it is possible to visit all year round.

In general, the ideal time to visit western China is between April and October, when the flowers are blossoming and the local bazaars throng with life. For those heading across the high passes or into the mountains, the best time to visit is from June to August, when alpine flowers carpet the steppe and the conditions for hiking and trekking are at their best.

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China Climate Guide

Destination Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Beijing 1°C 4mm 4°C 5mm 11°C 9mm 20°C 21mm 27°C 32mm 30°C 74mm 31°C 193mm 30°C 190mm 26°C 51mm 19°C 17mm 10°C 7mm 3°C 3mm
Chengdu 9°C 8mm 11°C 12mm 16°C 20mm 21°C 50mm 25°C 85mm 27°C 108mm 29°C 236mm 29°C 231mm 25°C 124mm 20°C 47mm 15°C 18mm 10°C 6mm
Guilin 13°C 55mm 13°C 84mm 17°C 141mm 23°C 124mm 28°C 349mm 31°C 339mm 33°C 220mm 33°C 183mm 32°C 85mm 27°C 88mm 21°C 65mm 16°C 48mm
Hainan Island 21°C 26mm 22°C 34mm 25°C 53mm 29°C 98mm 32°C 174mm 33°C 209mm 33°C 218mm 32°C 198mm 30°C 263mm 28°C 173mm 25°C 88mm 22°C 43mm
Hong Kong 19°C 25mm 18°C 45mm 21°C 73mm 25°C 153mm 28°C 301mm 30°C 367mm 31°C 346mm 31°C 380mm 30°C 277mm 28°C 120mm 24°C 34mm 20°C 27mm
Kashgar 0°C 4mm 5°C 5mm 14°C 7mm 22°C 6mm 27°C 11mm 31°C 7mm 33°C 8mm 31°C 8mm 27°C 5mm 20°C 3mm 11°C 3mm 2°C 2mm
Macau 19°C 26mm 19°C 48mm 21°C 68mm 25°C 151mm 29°C 299mm 31°C 334mm 32°C 248mm 32°C 286mm 31°C 189mm 28°C 103mm 25°C 41mm 20°C 27mm
Shanghai 8°C 44mm 9°C 57mm 13°C 75mm 18°C 88mm 23°C 91mm 27°C 169mm 32°C 141mm 32°C 135mm 27°C 130mm 22°C 54mm 17°C 49mm 11°C 39mm
Suzhou 7°C 46mm 8°C 56mm 13°C 58mm 18°C 72mm 23°C 93mm 27°C 152mm 31°C 135mm 31°C 125mm 26°C 105mm 23°C 32mm 15°C 42mm 10°C 42mm
Xian 5°C 6mm 8°C 9mm 15°C 23mm 21°C 44mm 27°C 58mm 32°C 53mm 33°C 92mm 31°C 87mm 25°C 96mm 20°C 57mm 12°C 21mm 6°C 7mm
Zhongdian 7°C 5mm 8°C 11mm 11°C 22mm 14°C 36mm 17°C 59mm 18°C 127mm 18°C 195mm 18°C 171mm 17°C 102mm 15°C 62mm 11°C 14mm 9°C 6mm

Month-by-month guide for travelling in China

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, Yunnan, China

Visiting China in January - February

In the north and in the mountainous areas — for example, around Beijing and in the mountains of Yunnan — winter is cold but dry, with typically clear blue skies and possible smatterings of snow at night. Elsewhere, China's humidity levels make January and February cold and damp, although most sites will be fairly quiet. Chinese New Year usually falls in early February or late January, and travelling over this time is extremely busy.

Events & Festivals

  • Chinese New Year (late January or early February): Celebrated across the country with fireworks, lanterns, decorative red scrolls, gifts and feasting with the family.
  • Harbin Ice Festival (early January): This is held over a week or so and features a large, impressive display of intricate ice sculptures.
Yangshuo, China

Visiting China in March

Temperatures in March are a little warmer than in the earlier winter, and toward the end of the month the fruit trees start to blossom. While not as prolific as the spread in Japan, the blossoms in China — mostly found in rural areas — are nevertheless still strikingly beautiful.

Yao lady in Longji

Visiting China in April

April can be rainy in central and southern areas, although temperatures are fairly warm. The fruit trees will be in full blossom and the landscape beautifully verdant. Every year in early April there is a Tomb-Sweeping Festival, which is a public holiday for the Chinese. On this day, people tidy up local graveyards and take a day out to enjoy the spring, so the whole country is very busy.

Events & Festivals

  • Lusheng Festival (April): Celebrated by the Miao minority in mountainous areas of the southwest with dancing in traditional costumes, lusheng-playing and bull-fighting.
Tibetan tribe in Zhongdian

Visiting China in May

May is one of our favourite months to visit China as temperatures are warm but not yet into the sticky heat of the summer. In Yunnan Province this is the peak month for flowers to bloom; particularly the rhododendron, which covers the mountain slopes. The first few days of May are a national holiday, which makes travelling very busy, so we would recommend planning around these dates.

Events & Festivals

  • Dragon Boat Festival (late May or early June): Exciting dragon boat races are held in many major cities and towns.
  • Sister's Meal Festival (May): A Miao minority festival similar to the Western Valentine's Day, young women dress in colourful costumes and distribute rice wrapped in leaves to young men who show an interest in them.
At Sayram Lake, China

Visiting China in June

June is the start of the summer, when temperatures start to get very hot and humid. June can also be quite rainy, which means that plant life is vibrant and river levels are high. Typically the Longji rice terraces will be irrigated, with the water creating mirror-like surfaces.

Events & Festivals

  • Dragon Boat Festival (late May or early June): Exciting dragon boat races are held in many major cities and towns.
Old Man, Shuhe Yunnan

Visiting China in July

Summer in China can be exceedingly hot and humid; particularly in the south. In western China, temperatures can reach 40°C but the climate here is dry. It is cooler in the mountainous areas, for example Yunnan Province, where conditions are ideal for hiking and the landscape is blooming.

Boats moored on Lu Gu lake

Visiting China in August

The weather throughout the country is hot but northern Yunnan can be home to some of the cooler weather this time of year.

Uighur men, Kashgar Sunday market

Visiting China in September

September is still warm, but not as hot, humid or wet as the summer, making it a great month to visit anywhere in China. It's an optimal month for journeying along the Silk Route as temperatures in western China fall dramatically, making travel more comfortable and still possible before snowfall in Kyrgyzstan's high passes.

Events & Festivals

  • Mid-Autumn Festival (September or early October): During this festival, people eat a delicacy called moon cake, light paper lanterns and in some regions, have dragon boat races.
Walk Along the Dragon's Backbone

Visiting China in October

The first week of October is a national holiday, so travelling during this time is extremely busy and best avoided. The rest of October, however, is a delightful month, with pleasantly mild temperatures, little rain and beautiful foliage.

Lhasa Express scenery

Visiting China in November

November is the key month to see autumn foliage colours; particularly in the northern and central areas of the country. Days become cool and crisp with typically clear blue skies, making it a wonderful month to visit if you don’t mind cooler temperatures. The north of the country may see its first snowfall in November. The main sites are less busy throughout the country, as domestic tourism is not as popular in November.

Events & Festivals

  • Lusheng Festival, Guizhou (November): This is the same festival as in April but held in different regions of Guizhou Province.
Forbidden City, Beijing

Visiting China in December

December is cold throughout China, with extremely low temperatures in places like Beijing and Xian. Here, days are typically cold but crisp and dry, and you may experience snow. December is a great time to visit Beijing if you don't mind the cold, as you'll have many of the main sites to yourself. Western China is exceptionally cold and not advisable to visit. Southern China has more mild temperatures, although because of the damp atmosphere it feels colder than it is.

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