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When to Visit China

Anyone who gives you a one size fits all answer to when is the best time to visit China probably haven’t been to China a lot. The fact is China is a vast country with a variety of travel resources. There is always something to enjoy no matter what season you visit. However, for most cities, especially the popular tourist cities like Beijing, Xian, Shanghai. Spring and Autumn are the best seasons to visit.

Visiting China in Spring: March - May

Climate and Temperature: The weather is defrosting and getting warmer everywhere in spring, except for the mountainous areas of northern China, where February, March, and early April are still cold. Cities on the southern side of the Yangtze River are much warmer and comfortable than most northern cities but are considerably rainy in spring.

Events and Festivals to Avoid:

Tomb-Sweeping Festival (April 4-6, 2020) - a 3-day long traditional Chinese holiday when Chinese people visit the graveyard and pay respect to the deceased. Most domestic Chinese also have spring outings during the holiday. It won’t cause a lot of traffic jams to your travel but still affects you, especially when you want to have a quiet appreciation of the landscapes.

Labor Day (May 1-5, 2020) - usually a 3-day public holiday (5-day holiday in 2020) where almost everyone is off work or school. Tons of Chinese people choose to travel on such occasion, which makes it one of the worst times to visit China.

Where to Visit:

March - Early April: 1) Yunnan province have the best natural sights to offer. Imagine yourself in a vast piece of mountain slope covered with all kinds of blossoming flowers; 2) Hainan province, arguably the “China's Hawaii” offers you stunningly beautiful beaches and coconut forests.
April - May:  Most cities are in their best shape, including Beijing, Xian, Chengdu, Shanghai, Guilin, Zhangjiajie. Besides the popular tourist cities, there are other featured places you might want to consider. Luoyang, one of the well-known ancient capitals in China, has the biggest peony garden, and April is when all the peonies blossom.

Hainan Travel

Recommended Itinerary: 8-day Henan Tour with Shaolin Temple and Yuntai Mountain

Visit China in Summer: June - August

Climate and Temperature: The main characteristic of Summer is the high temperature and rain. Except for Tibet Plateau, most areas in China are extremely hot during July and August. The difference is that southern China is dry and hot while the southern cities are humid and hot, and the temperatures can be up to 40 centigrade. Besides, Summer is a season with the most precipitation in most parts of China. It’s quite common that the morning is sunny and comfortable, and in the afternoon, the storm boils everything. Besides, Guangdong, Taiwan, and Fujian are prone to be affected by the typhoon.

Events and Festivals to Avoid:

Dragon-boat Festival (June 25 - 27) is a traditional Chinese festival when people have all kinds of activities and special food in memory of the great poet and patriot Quyuan. It won’t cause a great traffic problem during your travel, but there are still a lot of Chinese people choosing to go out these days.

Summer Vacation (early July - Late August)  is a peak travel season in China as students are off school for Summer Vacation. Most parents also take several days off and accompany their children to travel around. It’s not necessary to scramble tickets with students, only to find everywhere is jammed with them when you succeeded.

Where to Visit: Tibet is warm and comfortable to travel in Summer when everywhere else is too hot to visit. Northern Xinjiang is also a great destination to visit during this time. There are vast grasslands, grand bazaars, and tons of seasonal fruits waiting for you.

Tibetan Tour

Recommended Itinerary: 4-day Lhasa Classic Tour

Visiting China in Autumn (September - November)

Autumn is a clear and refreshing season to travel. Contrary to spring, the weather is getting cool in autumn. Most places in China are still warm before the middle of October. Northern China is a little cooler than southern cities, but still comfortable enough to get around.

Events and Festivals to Avoid:

Mid-Autumn Festival is the second most important festival in China. It’s a 3-day holiday often in late September or early October. It happens to be the same day as the National Day (October 1st), which means that the holiday is included in the National Day Holiday. Chinese people working nearby their hometown often get back and visit their parents on the occasion.

National Day Holiday, aka the Golden Week, is the worst time to visit China. It starts from Oct.1 and lasts seven days or more depending on if it coincides with the Mid-Autumn Festival. Everyone in the country will have this week off and travel to domestic cities, causing logistical chaos. It will be hard for you to get any flight or train ticket as well.

Where to Visit:

September - October: It’s a great time to visit most Chinese cities. However, the ideal place to spend your autumn is the Silk Route cities as temperatures in western China fall dramatically. Dunhuang, Zhangye, Urumqi, and Turpan are four reputed travel cities along the Silk Road.
Late October - November: Many cities are becoming cold, especially the northern cities where there may be the first snowfall. However, the cool weather, the clear sky, and the less volume of visitors to the popular sights will offer you a wonderful experience. Jiuzhaigou is best visited during the period when the foliage colors, water changes, and the mountains become more charming.

Zhangye Danxia Landform

Recommended Itinerary: 15-day Silk Road and Xinjiang Tour

Visiting China in Winter

Winter is the coldest season in the whole year, and January is the coldest month of the season. The mean temperature of northern China is about -10 centigrade, but southern China, especially Guangdong, Guangxi, Hainan, won't be very cold.

Events and Festivals:

Chinese New Year (Feb.11 - 17, 2021)  is the most important festival in Chinese culture. Millions of people travel during the Spring Rush, which is several days before and after the holiday. In recent years, domestic travelers begin to spend their holidays overseas. However, there are still numerous people who return to their hometown, causing packed transportation and a shortage of supplies in many places.

Winter Vacation (Mid January - Mid February)is the time when all students are off school for Spring Festival. It often lasts about a month. Many parents take the opportunity and take their children to warm places like Hainan.

Where to Visit: Hainan and Yunnan are probably the best places for you during winter. However, if you don’t mind the coldness, Harbin Ice Festival has a massive display of intricate ice sculptures. However, Harbin is cold. You must be fully prepared.

Harbin Ice Festival

Recommended Itinerary: 4 Days Harbin Tour to Ice and Lantern World and Ski Resort

In conclusion, China is a country of many landscapes in different seasons. It’s hard to find the perfect time to travel. You can choose the best time according to your preferred sights. Generally speaking, metropolises like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Xian, and Chengdu are best visited in Spring and Autumn. While cities with beautiful landscapes like Guilin and Zhangjiajie are best visited in late spring and early summer. Mountainous areas, including Tibet, Gansu, and Xinjiang have amazing views in late summer and autumn. Lastly, northeastern China will offer you the best snow sights in winter if you don’t mind the coldness.

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