One thing many travelers to China don’t always take into consideration when booking their trip is how enormous a country China is. With its immense size comes a variety of climates, weather conditions and seasons, that can vary drastically depending upon which region of China you’re going to be visiting. That’s why, before you book a trip to China, you should make sure you know which times of year are the best times to go to specific Chinese areas.
Spring – I’ve been on one trip to China in the spring and, personally, thought it was a lovely time of year to go. It’s warm and balmy in many regions and, with the mild weather, it’s a wonderful time of year to do a lot of walking and see things like archaeological digs, gardens and outdoor museums – things you don’t always enjoy as much when it gets too hot. The weather in Shanghai at the end of March, beginning of April, was gorgeous and it really made my vacation being able to be outside so much, wearing lightweight clothing with just a light sweater or jacket in the evenings.
Beijing, further north, was colder but still perfectly lovely. We just added an extra layer long-sleeved t shirt when we were outside.
Of course, if you’re going to go all the way north to places like Harbin or Turpan (not stereotypical tourist places, but some tourists do still go here), temperatures can change quickly and it can still be quite cold and even snow. So pack carefully for possible colder weather.
Also, don’t forget, if you travel to China in the spring, prices can be cheaper as the peak tourist months are May, September and October, when prices rise considerably.
Summer – Although many people travel to China during the summer, it’s my least favorite time of year to go there. Much of China is hot and humid and, for those not used to that kind of weather, it makes it uncomfortable being outside, so you find yourself rushing through the stunning cultural attractions just to get to air conditioning. With average temperatures in cities like Shanghai around 95 degrees in the summer, you can only imagine how hot, dirty and sticky you feel.
In summer, you’ll also get a lot of rain, so have to lug around umbrellas and raincoats just in case, or get soaked if you forget. Hubei Province, with cities like Wuhan and Xiangfan, is gorgeous most other times of year but, in summer, is downright unbearable.
Unless you’re going to be spending a lot of time in air-conditioned hotels and tour buses, summer in China may just be too hot for you.
Autumn – Autumn is also another lovely time of year but, with September and October peak season months, it’s also the priciest time to travel to China. If you don’t mind paying a premium though, autumn in China is beautiful. The humidity is gone, it’s still a couple of months before severe cold and snow begins and, if you’re touring many of the country’s world-famous cultural areas like the Forbidden City or the Great Wall, you couldn’t find a nicer time to go.
Just remember to pack a lightweight jacket for evenings and take things like long-sleeved t shirts or blouses or shirts; clothing you can layer if it gets a bit chilly.
Winter – In many areas of China, but particularly in the north, the winter months are freezing with snow, hail and other intense weather experiences. Of course, there are famous festivals like the Harbin Ice and Snow Festival in December (which is truly spectacular) and Zoulou Winter Festival at the end of November where, if you want to experience them, you have to go in winter. In that case, pack thermal underwear (I’m not kidding), gloves, hats, thick jackets ,sweaters, thick socks and a good pair of waterproof walking shoes.
Winter in China definitely has its beauty but, in many regions, it’s a cold like you’ve never felt before.
Typical Weather in China – China Highlights