The Best Times to visit China: By season and by month
With such a vast geographical region, China has varied seasons in each region. There is always a place worthy of visiting, no matter what season you plan to go to. Generally speaking, the best times to visit China are Spring and Autumn when extreme hot or cold is avoided. Spring usually lasts from March to May in most cities in China, while it may come a bit late in the northern region, like Harbin, or Tibetan plateau. It is the best time to appreciate flower blossoms in the southern region, or for outdoor activities like hiking, trekking, and cycling. Autumn is from September to November when the weather is pleasant. It is the best time to savor the charming colorful landscapes and share the joy for a harvest celebration.
When Definitely NOT to travel in China
Visiting China is possible all-year-round. However, it can be horrendous if you are traveling in below festival/holiday, when we highly recommend avoiding to tour China during those periods:
- Chinese Spring Festival (aka Chinese New year) usually falls at the end of January or early of February, which is the most significant event for millions of Chinese people heading home to get a reunion with families. During the festival, most attractions are crowded, flights are at the highest rate, and a train ticket is nearly impossible.
- The Chinese National Holidays or the so-called Golden Week, which takes place from October 1 to October 7. During this period, please be prepared to encounter domestic travelers flooding into every attraction and cruise, and get ready to pay the additional cost for the flight tickets, hotels, and even meals.
Check out the different seasons in China below, and take your holiday in China during the time that suits you best. Or just rely on WindhorseTour, let our professional travel advisors help you find the best time and design a trip for you now.
Visit China by Spring (March to May)
Spring is a very pleasant season with average temperatures at 10-23˚C (50-73˚F) when the weather in China isn't as cold as winter and the temperature starts to warm up. You can find green buds on the trees and flowers are starting to bloom. People often organize a spring tour so they can stroll outside and enjoy the natural scenery. Spring is one of the best times to make a tour to China, travelers can take a tour to Guizhou, Yunnan, Yangtze River, or Luoyang. You can also take the opportunity to experience two traditional spring festivals - Ching Ming Festival and Dragon Boat Festival. During these two traditional Chinese festivals, there will be a holiday across the nation, and many activities are held to celebrate the warming temperatures and lengthening days.
Festivals which you should not miss in Spring:
- Peach Blossom Festival takes place in Nyingchi, usually starts from end-March and lasts till late April. Depending on the blooming day of peach blossoms, the opening date of the Peach Blossom Festival in Nyingchi is different every year. Join our 6 days Picturesque Tibet tour with Nyingchi visit to appreciate the beautiful peach blossoms and discover the authentic Tibetan culture in Nyingchi.
- Sisters’ Meals Festival takes place in Kaili, from the 15th day of the third month in the Chinese lunar calendar. As an important festival for the Miao minority people in Guizhou, it generally lasts for 3 days. Join our 9 days Guizhou Miao Dong Village tour to admire the charming ethnic costumes and experience the Miao people’s culture.
Visit China by Summer (June to August)
Summer is the busiest season for taking a holiday in China. Most parts of the country become hot and wet, and temperatures over 30˚C (86˚F) are common. However, there are some ideal places in China for travelers to enjoy a cooler summer and have unforgettable experiences, such as Guilin and Yangshuo, Jiuzhaigou National Park in Sichuan Province, Beidaihe Scenic Spot and Chengde Imperial Summer Villa in Hebei Province. Summer is also the best time to visit remote places like Tibet, Inner Mongolia and other mountainous areas. Many travelers like to take tours at higher elevations during this season to embrace a lower temperature.
Festivals which you should not miss in Summer:
- Saga Dawa Festival is celebrated in Tibet on the whole of April in the Tibetan calendar and reaches its peak on the 15th day of April. Join our 15 days Mount Kailash tour for Saga Dawa Festival to have an extraordinary spiritual experience at the most sacred Mount Kailash.
- Litang Horse Racing Festival takes place in Litang County of Sichuan’s Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. It is mostly celebrated from 1st August for a week. Join our 7 days Litang Horse Racing Festival tour to savor the horsemanship of Khampa warriors and touch the exceptional Tibetan nomadic lifestyles.
- Shoton Festival is celebrated in Tibet on the last day of the sixth month in the Tibetan calendar and lasts for one week. Join our 5 days Lhasa Shoton Festival tour to fully enjoy the most active 3 days for a glimpse of the appealing Tibetan tradition and culture.
Visit China by Autumn (September to November)
Autumn is a good time to visit for two reasons: comfortable weather and wonderful scenery. The weather in China is warm and mild with a limited amount of rainfall. Leaves turn to yellow and red, which makes a beautiful sight, especially at Jiuzhaigou National Park, which has the most attractive panoramas in autumn. For travelers who are eager to photograph the autumn colors, please read over 'Top 10 Fall colors Places in China' for more details. In addition, you have plenty of other choices in this season as well, including Beijing, Shanghai, Xi'an, Guilin, Yunnan, Tibet, and Qinghai (warm clothes are required for the last three destinations).
Festivals which you should not miss in Autumn:
- The Mountain Worship Festival is held on the 25th day of the seventh month in the Chinese lunar calendar. It is a pretty big event for the Mosuo people near the Lugu Lake of Lijiang. Join our 12 days Yunnan minority tour with Lugu Lake exploration to witness the appealing Mosuo people's tradition and culture.
Visit China by Winter (December to February)
Generally speaking, winter is not a good season for tourists due to the cold and freezing weather, especially in Northern China, where temperatures can drop down to - 40˚C (- 40˚F). However, in Central and Southern China, the situation is different. Travelers can enjoy a snow-capped mountain view and bask in the sunshine. Winter tours in China are still very popular, as there are many winter activities and fewer tourists. During the winter holiday in China, adventuresome tourists can go north to Harbin to experience a romantic winter and see the Ice Lanterns and Ice Sculptures show, which is held in Harbin every year. In addition, China covers a large enough area that even in winter some places are still warm, like Hainan Island, Yunnan and Hong Kong.
Festivals which you should not miss in Winter:
- Monlam Festival, also known as the Great Prayer Festival, is celebrated by Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in the Amdo Tibetan Region, such as Labrang Monastery in Xiahe, Kirti Monastery in Langmusi. The festival falls from the 4th day to the 11th day in the first month of Tibetan calendar.
- Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival takes place in Harbin city, with an unfixed date from the end of December to February, depending on the weather.
- The Lusheng Festival is celebrated in Kaili of Guizhou Province, from the 16th day of the first month in the Chinese lunar calendar, and reaches its climaxes on the 19th and 20th day.
- Can't wait to travel in winter and join one of the winter festivals? Please do not hesitate to contact us directly to customize your unique China tour.
Best Places to travel in China by Month
January: Harbin, Beijing, Huangshan and Hong Kong
January is the time connecting with snow and ice, as the most freezing month in China. Head to Harbin for a wander through the colorful lights and admire the remarkable ice sculptures, or take a journey in Beijing for a well-worthy snow-covered scenery of Forbidden City and the Great Wall, before indulging yourself at the spectacular white landscape at the Yellow Mountains, and finishing with shopping with the best-discounted prices in Hong Kong where big promotions last until late January or early February.
February: Suzhou, Luoping, Yuanyang and Sanya
February is generally the final month of winter in most parts of China, except the far north region. Start your trip from Suzhou where there are plenty of exquisite gardens with plum blossoms, then turn south to make a Yunnan tour, head to the rice terraces of Yuanyang to capture the huge palette with colorful water in the fields reflecting the sky and sunlight, or perch on a hillside overlooking the blooming yellow rape flowers in Luoping, finally escape to the beaches of Sanya for shelter from the coldness.
March: Dali, Lijiang, Jinchuan and Nyingchi
March witnesses the first sunlight of Spring in almost China with milder weather. March is an ideal month to visit Dali, as well as nearby Lijiang, for the charming landscapes and minority customs of Bai ethnic people and Naxi ethnic people. Later in the month, as Spring flowers start to bloom, it is the perfect time to wind your way up to Jinchuan in Sichuan Province to enjoy the blooming pear blossoms, and on to Nyingchi in Tibet to catch the peach blossom.
April: Luoyang, Kaili, Yangtze River and Hangzhou
April offers beautiful springtime views with warmer temperatures, which is regarded as one of the best months for traveling in China. Get out to Luoyang for an impression of Longmen Grottoes and a Kung Fu lesson at Shaolin Temple, and do not miss the beautiful blooming peonies; before winding your way south to Kaili - a fascinating ethnic region that hosts the Sisters Meals Festival, which is a rare opportunity to admire the charming ethnic costumes and Miao people culture; then continue by a leisurely cruise to travel along Yangtze River for the breathtaking landscapes and diverse culture; and finally join the Longjing tea leaves harvest at Hangzhou with a boat tour in the tranquil West Lake.
May: Guilin, Yangshuo, Kunming
May makes a great time to travel to China, with warm daytimes and cooler evenings. Nowhere boasts the most dramatic karst landscapes than Guilin, which makes the region the perfect territory for endless get-out options, from cruising along the Li River down to Yangshuo, to hiking through the irrigated rice terraces and biking/hiking/rafting between villages. Continue west to Kunming, which might be one of our best places to visit in China in each month of the year, when the Dongchuan Red Land is magical in May, with various colored crops, blood red and blue sky to feast the eyes.
June: Chengdu, Shangri-la, Lhasa, Kashgar
June is the beginning of summer in China, with rising temperatures and humidity. Lhasa might be a tricky place to get to but its isolation only adds to its temptation. Start in Chengdu, the best gateway city to Tibet, with a close touch to the cute pandas and a tea break at the old tea house, before heading to Shangri-la to immerse yourself in the jaw-dropping natural beauty, and perfectly place to stroll the holy Lhasa for the devout spiritual atmosphere. Further west across Tibetan plateau and following the stunning Xinjiang-Tibet Highway, and come to explore the old town of Kashgar with the lively Sunday Market.
July: Xiahe, Xining, Zhangye, Dunhuang
July is the hottest month in China, with a hot and dry climate in the north and muggy weather in the south. Spend midsummer on a luxury China silk road tour to see the ancient and legendary relics along the way. Start in the vast grassland in Xiahe for the truly authentic nomadic life and better understanding for one sect of Tibetan Buddhism in Labrang Monastery, before heading to Xining for an excursion to the blue Qinghai Lake which is highlighted with vast blooming yellow rapeseed flower on the lakeside, then continuing to Zhangye for the famous Rainbow Mountains, and finish by finding enlightenment in the Mogao Grottoes of Dunhuang.
August: Lugu Lake, Litang, Hulunbuir Grassland
August can still feel the severe summer heat, and also brings rains to the western and southern region of the country. For a cooler summer resort amidst some high mountains, look no further than Lugu Lake, from a boat ride on the lake to a home visit to a Mosuo family, or join in a campfire party, you are sure to find your perfect match. Add the highest county - Litang and you will be surprised by how the Horse Race Festival shows the distinct Tibetan customs and culture, or move further northeast to the picturesque Hulunbuir grassland, from a tutorial with horse riding and arrows shooting, to a day with one of the nomadic families with yurt stay, we’ve got plenty up sleeves to keep you busy.
September: Pingyao, Xi’an, Kanas Lake
September indicates the start of Autumn in China, as the summer ‘monsoon’ rains have departed, remaining a revived landscape, pure blue skies that only feature this already multicolored country. Start with an exploration of Pingyao Ancient Town which gives an insight into the architectural gems and thriving imperial time, before turning southwest into Xi’an - the heart of 13 dynasties for a glance for the life-sized Terro-cotta Warriors, and finish by a west excursion to uncover fairyland Kanas Lake for a respite from the hustle and bustle.
October: Yading Nature Reserve, Jiuzhaigou National Park, Zhangjiajie National Park
October (except the first week) is another favorite month to travel in China, with fewer flocks in many national parks/reserves. A fairly low temperature returning to the south, and maple trees, birch and sumac turning the Yading Nature Reserve and Jiuzhaigou National Park a dazzling hue of reds, yellows, and oranges. In addition, the Miyaluo red leaves should also not be missed on your Sichuan tour. Fall foliage in Zhangjiajie National Forest Park needs no introduction and we might also include a late-season trip to Tianzi Mountain or Tianmen Mountain once the summer crowds have left.
November: Guangzhou, Xiamen, Shanghai
November is another wonderful month for traveling in China, with moderate temperatures, little rain and colorful autumnal leaves. Start with an safari at Chimelong Paradise in Guangzhou, and sampling different delicious Cantonese food and desserts, then stop in Xiamen for savoring the sea air and encountering with warm-hearted Hakka people and their special tulou dwellings, before heading to Shanghai for a stroll on the bund or just one street with lemon-yellow ginkgo leaves appearing in abundance.
December: Mount Emei, Hailuogou Glacier, Xishuangbanna
December is the beginning of the winter in China, with cold temperatures. It is the season to hunker down by a warm hot-pot and embrace the onset of winter. But this doesn’t have to be done at home and where better to end the year by soaking in the sunrise and clouds sea on Mount Emei, or bathing in a hot-spring with the snow scenery during the Hailuogou Glacier trip, or turning south to Xishuangbanna for the unique Dai minority customs.