Weather in China

by Cristina  

China is a vast country which means the climate can vary dramatically from one region to another. Generally speaking, we can find the extremes – both cold and hot – but also mild temperatures.

Winter falls between November and April (give or take a month) in the north and northeast and is really cold. Summer, on the other hand , is hot and dry and lasts between May and August. The northwest is hot and dry in the summer, while the winters are bitterly cold. Beijing may experience -20C during winter and 38C during summer.

Go to central China – including Shanghai – and you’ll find hot and humid summers, which are really uncomfortable. Wuhan, Tianjin, Chongqing and Nanchang are “furnaces” between April and October. While short, winters are wet and cold.

The south & Hong Kong see hot and humid summers, lasting from April to September. From July to September the typhoons are likely to hit. Winters are milder and quite short, lasting from January to March. No need to pack your ski jacket, but it’s not warm enough to wear a t-shirt either. The south has more of a subtropical climate.

The island of Hainan sees beautiful weather pretty much all the time and is packed with domestic travelers during the public holidays.

Tibet can see all seasons in one day. It gets cold by the evening and during the night, but it can be very hot during the day. Still, winters are bitterly cold and the winds are fierce. Lhasa can easily experience 29C during summer but the temperatures can be as low as -16C during winter.

Sample temperatures

Beijing
Jan avg temp -4C
Jul avg temp 25C

Shanghai
Jan avg temp 4C
Aug avg temp 28C

Xian
Jan avg temp -1C
Jul avg temp 27C

Hong Kong
Jan, Feb avg temp 16C
Jun, Jul , Aug avg temp 28C

Hainan Island
Dec, Jan avg temp 23C
May, Jun, Jul, Aug avg temp 29C

High season in China

The high tourist season in China comprises:

  • May 1: Labor Day
  • October 1 : National Day (the entire week is busy)
  • Summer: June to September
  • Winter holiday: January and February

During these periods everything is crowded and the prices are at their highest. Should you plan to visit China during the high season, book the airfare in advance and don’t forget to arrange for accommodation, too.

As an alternative, consider the shoulder season. Spring (late April) and autumn (October/November) are lovely temperature-wise but are not as crowded or as expensive.

Best Time to Visit China

Choosing the best time for your visit in China depends on where you want to go and what you plan to do.

In general, September is a great time to visit any part of China. The temperatures are reasonable and the rainfall is low. Spring falls in the same pattern temperature-wise but the rain can be quite unpredictable. Autumn is a good choice for those heading to Beijing or Hong Kong.

Definitely avoid Wuhan, Tianjin, Chongqing and Nanchang during summer because the temperatures are really hot. Also, remember that summer is rainy in the entire country.

At the other extreme, winters are cold but you get the benefits of traveling during the low season.

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