When is the best time of year to visit China? As an experienced China travel agency, it’s a question we’re asked a lot, particularly by western travelers who are visiting China for the first time.
The challenge with knowing when is the best time to go to China is narrowing the answer down to something simple. This is because there are so many things to consider: Seasons, destinations and highlights on your bucket list, personal interests (are you fascinated by history, but not a fan of big cities), how much time you have, and of course, your budget.
In the interest of keeping things simple, we’ve put together this must-read guide on the best time to go to China. It’s perfect for anyone who’s in the ‘plan and research mode’ for a China tour.
You might be wondering, Why even worry about the best time of year to visit China. Nobody is going anywhere right now.
We hear from you! However, keep in mind that while travel is on hold for now, it won’t always be this way. And as any good travel guide will tell you, an important principle for travel – no matter where you’re off to – is that preparation is key.
So dive into our latest blog about the best time to travel to China. That way, when it comes time to book and fly, you’ll be ready to bring those travel dreams to life.
Choose your season: Deciding the best time of year to visit China
There is no one best time to go to China, however the most common advice from those who know is to plan your travel for April, May, September and October. Why? Well, these are the most enjoyable from a weather and season perspective.
Spring falls in April and May (and March), making these months ideal times to visit China. Equally appealing for seasonal travel are September and October, when it is Fall. As the months that land either side of the super busy, crowded Summer, planning your holiday to align with these times will make for comfortable travel weather.
In practical terms, it means avoiding the bitter cold of Winter, which is a feature of high traffic destinations like Beijing or Tibet , or bypassing the searing heat of places like Turpan or even Shanghai with its more humid climate. If you’re uncomfortable in weather extremes and don’t enjoy being either too hot or cold, choosing the best season to travel is an important consideration.
Those less bothered by variations in weather might take their chances and brave the cold during the heart of winter or the enormous crowds of domestic and foreign travelers during high summer. However, if it’s your first time to China, it’s wise to factor in your tolerance for these elements as they can impact negatively on the overall enjoyment of your travel experience.
When is it not the best time to go to China?
While we’re on the subject of timing your travel, we knew it wouldn’t be right to leave out important details about when it is not the best time to go to China.
Certain public holidays have a well-earned reputation for serious spikes in domestic travel. Among the key dates to avoid a visit to China are Labour Day (from 1 to 3 May), National Day (from 1 to 7 October), and the Spring Festival. Chinese New Year usually begins on a day during the last ten days of January and continues until the middle of February. The holiday lasts seven days, however, we recommend avoiding the entire period, including three days prior to, and after, this important Chinese celebration (a total of 13 days).
If you plan a China tour during this time, expect to pay more for any mode of transport, and to be competing with locals on every front. Western travelers who like their space and who aren’t familiar with the crowded nature of travel in China, may just find their travel experience is less like a holiday and more like a crash course in survival.
Again, each individual should be clear about their tolerance for these factors and decide what’s right for them. Asking for advice from others who’ve already done a China tour, or reading reviews , is a great way to find out what does and doesn’t work.
What’s the best time to visit: China highlights?
China is definitely a country rich in bucket list highlights. Between the Great Wall, Terracotta Army, giant pandas, and some incredible natural wonders, it’s hard enough deciding what to see, let alone pinpointing the ideal time to see them all.
With a view to making your China tour planning easy, here’s our essential China highlights list we recommend to customers. The culmination of over a decade of research, design, planning and delivery of thousands of China tours, it makes an excellent guide for anyone wanting tips for the best time to travel to China, identifying what to see and when.
|Destination||Highlights||Best time to visit||Hottest days||Coldest days||Winter snow|
Temple of Heaven
|March – May|
September – November
|July – August||January||Rarely|
Xian City Wall
|March – June|
September – November
|July||Dec – January||Yes|
|Chengdu||Panda bases||March – June|
September – November
|July – August||Dec – January||Rarely|
|April – October||July – August||January||No|
|Zhangjiajie||Zhangjiajie National Forest Park|
Tianzi Mountain Nature Reserve
|September – October||July – August||January||Yes|
|September – October||July – August||Dec – January||Minor|
Of course, there are many more destinations in China than those listed here, however if you’re wanting a ‘best of’ experience in select destinations, you’re guaranteed to find more than enough to impress from this list.
What’s the best time of year to visit China for festivals
A possibly little known fact with first time visitors to China is the rich diversity of cultural festivals that provide the opportunity for an enriching travel experience. Notwithstanding the recommendation to avoid the travel craziness of the Chinese New Year/Spring Festival mentioned earlier, visitors can immerse themselves in local celebrations while on tour. Here is just a small sample of important local festivals to include in your itinerary.
|Water Festival||Yunnan||3 days||Mid-April|
|Dragon Boat Festival||Throughout China||1 day||June|
|Naadam Festival||Inner Mongolia||5 days||July or August|
|Sho Dun Festival||Tibet||7 days||Mid-August|
|Mid-Autumn Festival||Throughout China||1 day||Mid-September|
|Chong Yang Festival||Throughout China||1 day||October|
|International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival||Harbin||2 months during winter||January – February|
There are literally hundreds of festivals reflecting every conceivable interest and the 55 ethnic minority cultures in China. Be sure to do your research and ask your China travel agency to advise how you can integrate festival time into your tour itinerary.
Pandas, river cruises, the Great Wall and more: How will I know if it’s the best time to travel to China?
Clearly the decision around the timing of your China tour isn’t completely straightforward, which is why it’s worth considering a tour with a theme.
If you think a theme tour might just tick your China travel box, booking the best time to go will not only enhance your experience, there’s a better chance your vacation will make for beautiful travel memories.
Recognizing there’s a no-one-size-fits-all solution to creating the perfect tour package, we’ve devised options that meet the specific interests of our customers. Choose from tours perfect for families, iconic highlights like the Great Wall and Silk Road, or amazing natural icons such as the Yangtze River.
Explore these options for ideas.
|Tour theme||Best time to go to China||Why go||When to avoid|
|Yangtze River cruise||April – May|
June – August
October – November
|Pandas (Chengdu)||March – May|
September – November
|Best place in the world for seeing pandas||Good all year|
|April – May|
September – October
Bucket list experience
|Good all year|
|August – October||Incredible history|
Bucket list experience
|Tibet||May – October||Enriching culture|
Bucket list destination
|Experience natural China||Winter|
Each traveler has their own preference for holiday experiences, so before embarking on the holiday of a lifetime with a trip to China, spend time researching and asking questions to be sure that both how and when you travel meets your expectations.
If you’re contemplating a tour, why not simplify the big decisions about the best time to travel to China. Having served customers from around the world, including the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, we understand it can be hard knowing what to see and when. Research, plan, and explore the options available in our selection of best China tours, or create your own custom experience with the help of travel consultants who know and care about every detail. We welcome online enquiries via direct contact and respond within 24 hours.