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When is the best time to visit China

September 14, 2020

The Middle Kingdom—a land of extraordinary landscapes and ancient history. But, when is the best time to go?

 


From sprawling landscapes to one of the world’s oldest continuous civilisations, the biggest population in the world*, and of course, mind-blowing development – China really does have it all. Thanks to its enormous size, China experiences climatic extremes. One moment, you could be basking in the sizzling Shanghai summer, but head west and you'll need a coat to explore the snowy peaks of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain range. These variant weather patterns mean there's somewhere to visit year-round, no matter the season.

 

A chart depicting the weather in Beijing.
A chart depicting the weather in Beijing.

If you love heat and the sultry feel of the monsoon season, then summer from June to August is your time to travel. There is plenty to do in these months, as major events like the Dragon Boat Festival take place, local school children are on holidays and families are out enjoying the outdoors. Expect temperatures around 30 degrees celsius, with some heavy rainfall in tourist hotspots such as Beijing and Shanghai. Milder temperatures can be found in southern Kunming at this time.

Autumn is one of the most popular times to visit China, as the summer humidity disappears and temperatures drop to the comfortable twenties. The autumn colours are a highlight between September and December, decorating the country in vibrant foliage. Guangzhou and Guilin are still warm, in the high twenties, while the rest of China enjoys temperatures around 20 degrees celsius, with some scattered rain and cloud.

A busy street scene in Shanghai.
A busy street scene in Shanghai.

One of China’s two ‘Golden Weeks’ is held in early October to celebrate the founding of the People's Republic of China. While it is one of the busiest times of the year, it's a fantastic opportunity to experience one of China's biggest holidays and enjoy traditions like parades, flag-raising ceremonies, exhibitions and grand firework displays.

Winter cools China down significantly, with many parts of the country dipping below freezing. But if you're prepared to brave the weather, winter is a great time to explore the Middle Kingdom. Between December and February, expect far fewer tourists crowding the streets, and a spectacular, snow-covered Great Wall.

The Great Wall of China in winter.
The Great Wall of China in winter.

Chinese New Year (late January or February) marks another of the country's Golden Weeks, where many locals head to their home towns to celebrate the New Lunar Year. This wonderful tradition, capped off by the Lantern Festival, is well-worth enduring the weather and crowds for. Beijing averages around 2 degrees celsius in January, but down south in the winter, it is still warm – Guangzhou averages temperatures in the high tens.

If you prefer dry days and mild temperatures, Spring is the best time to plan your visit. Flowers bloom across the country, including the fabled cherry blossoms, and the pleasant weather is ideal for exploring. Temperatures are comfortable, hovering around 20 degrees in Beijing and 21 degrees in Xi'an.

China really does have a season to suit everyone.

When will you go?

*In April 2023, India overtook China and became the most populous nation in the world 

Where else do you want to visit?

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