Everything you need to know before arriving on the ground
A China weather article may not sound like the most riveting pre-trip reading, but if you’ve ever arrived in a new destination and been totally underprepared because it’s too hot, cold, wet or dry, you’ll understand just how quickly travel plans can be derailed. What starts out as fun quickly turns to a much less enjoyable experience - all because you didn’t check the weather.
Like so many aspects of China, weather is not straightforward. How can it be? In a country that covers a massive expanse in all directions, there are bound to be variances in China weather - sometimes really big ones - on any given day. That’s why it pays to do your research well in advance, not only of your arrival, but planning and booking your trip too.
Without drowning you in too much detail, like the rising floodwaters of a tropical summer typhoon, we’ve endeavoured to capture the all important information for adventurers making their way to China, regardless of when and where they travel.
China’s coastline just on its own stretches a whopping 18,000 kilometers, so as you’d expect with such a distance, the zones within China itself present a wide range of temperatures and climates.
During winter, China is generally warm in the south and cold - in some places, bitterly cold - in the north. Temperature differences between north and south
can vary by up to 50°. The influence of the winter monsoon, which brings cold
and dry winter winds from Mongolia and Siberia impacts the northern region
of China. Visit Beijing during the coldest months of the year and you will
definitely be pulling out your thermal gear, gloves, and beanie.
By contrast, in summer, which runs from June to August, you will find temper-
atures that reach the other extreme. With the exception of the high lying
Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and Tianshan Mountains, the average temperature in
most areas sits above 20°C. In fact, you will find that in many places in the
south, the average is above 28°C.
Now if you’re thinking that sounds quite manageable and you think Turpan
in high summer sounds ideal, you may just want to reconsider your travel
plans. Freezing cold in winter, temperatures in Turpan swing in the opposite direction during summer, hitting an average high of 40°C (104°F).
Remember too there is a wet season in China weather and the timing of it varies from north to south. In the south, with its more tropical and subtropical weather zone, the wet season starts early and ends late. The wettest months are between May and October.
The wet season in the north is shorter and concentrated in July and August (summer). Monsoons are a common feature of China’s weather, both in warm and cold months. Fortunately, this is most advantageous for agriculture, as it allows for diversity in crop cultivation and animal production.
But it’s not all good news. Floods, along with other natural disasters such as drought, earthquakes, and cold waves occur regularly each year, and in some cases, with catastrophic effects.
Although we’ve only provided a brief overview of China weather here, at the very least, you have the basics, and can start to plan the timing of your trip accordingly.
The takeaways on China weather for foreign visitors?
China weahter by city
China’s capital, Beijing is located in a warm temperate zone, which means its weather is affected significantly by monsoons. It is reliably cold and dry in winter (even snowing into spring sometimes), with the average January temperature coming in at a chilly -3.5°C.
While walking around outside and taking in the highlights like the Forbidden City, Summer Palace and Tiananmen Square might leave you bracing icy cold winds, you will find central heating is widespread in most buildings.
Beijing’s reputation for cold winters is matched only by its hot, humid summers when the average temperature in July is 26.5°C. Spring and autumn are comparatively short in Beijing, and locals recommend the months to enjoy this city at its best are in May, June, September, and October.
Unlike its more serious counterpart Beijing, the city of lanterns, Xi'an weather enjoys fewer extremes and four distinct seasons. If you like moderation in all things, you’ll find Xi'an will meet your needs with its mild climate and moderate rainfall. Spring is warm, dry and windy; autumn is cool, and winter is cold and foggy (expect snow).
The best time to visit Xi'an? Pack your bags to travel from April to June, and September to November.
Trying to decide the best time to visit the oriental pearl, Shanghai? You can relax, knowing that without the extremes of other destinations in China, Shanghai provides plenty of options.
With its subtropical monsoonal climate, you’ll discover a fairly even distribution of temperatures, regardless of when you visit.
During summer, daily average temperatures are around 28.5°C. High-density city living and the volume of highrises limit the flow-through of cooler air during warmer months. If you melt in humidity, stay away in high summer!
Although Shanghai’s winter is certainly milder than Beijing’s, a bitter northerly wind can be felt during the middle of the cold season.
From a tourist’s perspective, Spring, which runs from March to May is the best time to visit Shanghai. Keep in mind though, if you plan to explore Shanghai from mid-June to early July, pack your umbrella and raincoat, because it’s the wettest time of the year. Incredibly, during this short period of just 20 days, Shanghai receives about a quarter of its annual rainfall.
Think you’d prefer to catch the tail end of summer from the end of August to mid-September? You’ll need more than wet weather gear. This time of year is characterized by frequent typhoons, often with pouring rain and strong winds.
The Sichuan Basin where Chengdu is located means this city is characteristically humid. Ironically, Chengdu is also home to the famous hot pot, so named because it is extremely hot and spicy.
In contrast to Chengdu city’s humidity, the hills and plains which create the Sichuan Basin (the highest mountains are over 1,300 meters), means the weather at height is much cooler.
Warmer weather is found in the west and cooler temperatures in the east. The simultaneous differences in temperature are reflected elsewhere in the surrounding mountains too, where the peaks are 2-3 °C cooler.
In Chengdu, winter is short (it rarely snows) and the average daily temperature for most of the year is a very pleasant 16.4°C. Not only is this perfect for the most famous local residents, the giant pandas; it is ideal for foreign visitors too.
Guangzhou enjoys a subtropical climate, making it relatively hot and humid in summer and pleasantly mild in winter. Summer-like weather extends well beyond the three months from June to August. From May to October, temperatures in this bustling international hub often exceed the daily average of 30°C (86°F), so if you’re prone to wilting at the first sign of humidity, aim to visit Guangzhou in late autumn or through winter when temperatures are much more manageable, ranging between 10°C (50°F) and 21°C (70°F).
Guangzhou’s location on the Tropic of Cancer means there is a rainy season. If you plan to travel any time between July and September, expect to use your wet weather gear as this is the time that rainfall peaks. While this climate has its drawbacks for those who aren’t fans of the heat, there is one major benefit. Guangzhou earned its nickname ‘Huacheng’ or flower city for the year-round proliferation of beautiful blooms.
Located at the far west end of the Hexi Corridor, Dunhuang is an important thoroughfare on the ancient Silk Road. With Sanwei Mountain in the east, Mingsha Mountain in the south, desert to the west, and the Taklimakan, and Gobi to the north, Dunhuang is connected to the Tianshan Mountains.
The unique mix of elevation, together with the desert oasis environment provides the setting for extreme temperature variation. On any given day while exploring on a Dunhuang tour, you can find yourself scorched by daytime highs of 40°C and freezing at night in sub-zero lows.
If you’re ‘unlucky’ enough to find yourself in Dunhuang on a day that it rains, you needn’t be concerned. There is an average of just 21 rainy days each year during which very little rain falls (a mere 42 millimeters!).
The good thing is, this hot, dry climate is perfect for preservation - and it’s the very reason the world-famous Mogao Caves, displaying arguably the finest collection of Buddhist art, have survived in such pristine condition for over a thousand years. The caves alone, which are rich in history, scholarship, and art are worth the visit, so be sure to time your arrival so it coincides with a time of year when the heat is most manageable, namely from May to October.
A place of quintessentially Chinese natural beauty, Guilin is synonymous with the osmanthus flowers (Guihua) and karst stone mountains that are found in proximity to the city and along the Li River to Yangshuo.
Guilin also has a reputation for its favorable climate, which was praised by the poet Du Fu from the Tang Dynasty who claimed "All the five ridges are hot, but only Guilin is pleasant".
It snows infrequently in Guilin and the weather is ideal for all year round blooming of flowers. With an average low of 9℃ and an average high of 28℃, it’s easy to understand why Guilin held such appeal historically and still does today.
Due to its more temperate climate, humidity is a factor in Guilin, however, it is definitely a city that can be visited all year round. Just remember to bring an umbrella if you’re planning to travel in spring because this is when most rain falls.
Lhasa is a destination that is aptly named ‘Sunshine City’. The small temperature variations throughout the year, but frequently large changes in daily temperatures, makes Lhasa unique among the list of best places to visit in China.
Located in the middle of the Tibet Plateau on the north side of the Himalayas at an altitude of 3,650 meters Lhasa sits in the plain of the middle valley of the Lhasa River. As you’d expect with a place that seems to almost touch the clouds, it can get very cold. Expect sub-zero temperatures. In fact, locals say that Lhasa enjoys ‘four seasons in a day and a cold winter throughout the year’. This is the ever-practical Tibetans dress as they do. The traditional robe allows the wearer to remove it from one shoulder during the day to stay cool, and then reposition as the sun goes down to stay warm.
Many travelers take advantage of Hong Kong’s convenience as a travel thoroughfare and why not? Certainly, Hong Kong’s climate lends itself to a visit on route to China.
With a mild average annual temperature of 22.8°C that belies the heat and humidity of Hong Kong’s summer, you may want to time your transit through Hong Kong to avoid the warmer months between May to September. During this peak period, there are significant rainfalls and typhoons, both of which can detract from your holiday experience, so best to time your holiday in Hong Kong with the arrival of autumn from September to November. It’s when you’ll find there is plenty of sunshine balanced by balmy breezes that come in from the Pacific Ocean.
Want to know more about the weather in China? Work through the pages of our Travel Guide and find everything you need to know about visiting China. Discover helpful information on related topics, including China visas, things to do in China, food, culture, and more. As a China travel agent that’s been operating well over a year - and survived the impact of COVID-19, we’re more committed than ever to helping our customers discover and experience real China. We understand that your once-in-a-lifetime trip to China starts well before departure, that’s why we provide useful information about important details on topics like the weather in China to help make your China vacation as enjoyable as possible.
We did Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam tour organised by China Tours.
We are very happy with China tour company.
All our hotels accommodation was excellent. all our Guilds in all three countries were very good and speak very good English.
Our transport arrangements during tour and airport pickup and drop off was in time for our flights.
I did the tour of South Korea and China with China Tours, This November 2023 tour was based on my good experience with China tours in the past
Date of experience: November 2023
wrote a review 12 November 2023
5 days 4 nights tour at Beijing and Xi’an with Chinatours
I did a 5 days 4 nights solo private tour trip with “Chinatours.com” to Beijing and Xi’an. I am really satisfied with the itinerary and flexibility of how “Chinatours” allows me to add and customize my trip.
A little hiccup, when I arrived at Xi’An high speed rail station from Beijing, my tour guide, Helen when to a different station to wait for me as they have two different rail station. Despite this, I felt her sincerity to welcome me in Xi’an whilst she kept apologizing.
Upon arriving at the hotel, guess what? The hotel gave me a free upgrade to a Suite. A whole Suite by myself！Awesome！Wish I had more time to stay in the hotel room though but my itinerary was packed. I arrived pretty late that night. Regardless, the room was decorated to give this ancient China historical ambience. It’s huge and clean. Hotel name is Grand Mecure on Renminbi Square. Breakfast included. Breakfast was alright, I had better breakfast choices in Beijing.
Next morning, Helen (tour guide) arrived early to the hotel to pick me up and start my trip. I managed to squeezed through the crowds and got an impressive view of the Terra-cotta army!
Wow!!! It’s a must to come to Xi An and look at this army yourself.
Helen (tour guide) treated me to a popular terracotta shaped chocolate ice cream. She said to make up for the hiccup last night.
I bought a history book that is all in English. If you love reading history I recommend to buy the book.
We had some thick wide noodles for lunch. It’s called “Biang Biang Mian”.
In the evening, I went to walk the ancient City Wall. Saw the bell tower and drum tower too. Then I had dinner at the mall nearby the hotel.
Final day at Xi’An, started with a beautiful weather, visited Big Wild Goose Pagoda and Xi’an Museum. I went to watched a 30 mins Tang Dynasty musical instrument show. I recommend only people who are really interested to know more about Chinese music to attend.
Then I went to Great Mosque and walked along Muslim street. Try a giant BBQ squid, it was alright. Had the crispy chinese croissant with minced pork and wanton soup for lunch. Delicious!
Overall, Helen really took care of my needs and I love her knowledge on the history of China and Xi’An. I almost forgot, both tour guides from Beijing and Xi’An are bilingual. They are fluent in English. I had a really great time in China and I am definitely visiting China again in the near future! Cheers!
I wrote a separate review for my experience in Beijing.
Date of experience: October 2023
wrote a review 8 November 2023
Great Trip Datong and Pingyao
Excellent service provided to our Datong and Pingyao trip...will recommend to our friends for china trip... Great service also from Martha from China Tours
Date of experience: Nov. 2023
wrote a review 21 September 2023
Towcester, United Kingdom
China Tours 13 day tour
My daughter and I just returned from a fantastic 13 day trip to China with China Tours. The organisation and itinerary were excellent and our guides were really helpful and knowledgable. We had an absolutely brilliant time and a lot of that is down to the China Tours staff. When my daughter left her favourite jacket behind in Chengdu, Martha immediately arranged to have it sent on to the guide in Shanghai for us. I thoroughly recommend China Tours to anyone considering a holiday in China.
Date of experience: Sep. 2023 • Family
wrote a review 20 September 2023
Chinatours.com’s “Essence Of China” is fantastic. Highly Recommended.
We have just come back from a ten day tour of China. We booked it online with Chinatours.com and we were not disappointed, Martha could not have
been more helpful. We visited Beijing, Xi'an, Zhangjiajie and Shanghai. The experience was phenomenal. Chinatours.com were absolutely fantastic. Everything was superbly organised, the guides were really knowledgeable and friendly. The hotels were all clean and comfortable. The bullet train was eerily quiet and smooth even at 350km/hr. The internal flights, China Eastern Airlines, were all thoroughly enjoyable. The sites were stunning and the experience will stay with us for ever. The trip exceeded all of our expectation. Thoroughly recommended, thank you Chinatours.com for an exceptionally good time.
Date of experience: Sep. 2023 • Couples
wrote a review Written 14 September 2023
A Journey through China: Exploring 2,100 Miles on Bullet Trains
Introduction: Two weeks in China became an unforgettable adventure that took me on a tour of this diverse and historically rich country. With the efficient logistics of bullet trains whisking me across 2,100 miles at speeds of up to 350 kph, I had the privilege of being accompanied by knowledgeable guides who were not only well-versed in Chinese history but also took a personal interest in ensuring I had a fulfilling experience.
Knowledgeable Guides: The heart of this remarkable journey was undoubtedly the guides who accompanied me throughout. Their expertise in Chinese history was evident as they skillfully narrated the stories behind each site we visited. Their deep knowledge extended beyond facts and dates; they painted vivid pictures of the past, bringing ancient dynasties to life. It was as though I had traveled back in time, understanding the significance of each monument, temple, and landmark.
Personalized Experience: What truly set my trip apart was the guides' dedication to ensuring I had a personalized experience. They encouraged questions and patiently answered each one, taking a genuine interest in my curiosity. Their enthusiasm was contagious, making every moment of exploration feel like a shared adventure. They didn't merely recount history; they made it relatable and accessible.
Cultural Insights: The guides were not limited to historical narratives; they also delved deep into Chinese culture. From explaining traditional customs and rituals to discussing contemporary trends, I gained a holistic understanding of China's diverse culture. They also shared personal anecdotes, providing a unique perspective on daily life in China. Their stories revealed the warmth and resilience of the Chinese people, making me feel more connected to the country.
Exploring China's Rich History: One of the highlights of the trip was the guides' ability to explain China's remarkable 5,000-year history. They seamlessly wove together tales of ancient emperors, philosophers, and dynasties, connecting the past to the present. Through their words, I gained a profound appreciation for the continuity of Chinese civilization.
A Modern Marvel: Beyond its rich history, China exceeded my expectations in terms of modernity. I was pleasantly surprised by the clean air, pristine water, and well-maintained streets. The sight of new cars, electric buses, and fast subways was a testament to China's commitment to environmental sustainability and infrastructure development. The subways with marble floors exemplified the attention to detail in every aspect of public life.
Conclusion: My two-week journey through China, covering 2,100 miles on bullet trains, was a remarkable experience made truly exceptional by the knowledgeable, passionate, and patient guides who accompanied me. They made sure I not only saw the beauty of China's history but also felt a deep connection to its culture and people. China's blend of ancient heritage and modernity left an indelible mark on me, and I returned home with a newfound appreciation for this incredible nation.
Date of experience: Sep. 2023 • Solo
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