Best Time to Visit China

It is hard to say that when is the best time to visit China, because China is a vast country. From cold months to hot months, different places in China will show people the different charms of the country. Generally speaking, except for some special destinations, such as Harbin, the recommended months for travelling in China are April to October. During this period, the weather in most parts of China is pleasant. It provides a good condition to take beautiful pictures. Anyway, China is a tourist destination suitable for travel all the year round. No matter when you go, there is always a place worth visiting.

China’s Overall Climate Features

Distribution of Winter Temperatures

In January, the 0℃ isotherm passes through the Huaihe River-Qinling Mountains-southeast edge of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. The temperature north of the line (including the north, northwest inland and Qinghai-Tibet Plateau) is below 0℃, of which the temperature in Mohe River of Heilongjiang is below -30℃. The temperature to the south of this line is above 0℃, of which the temperature in Sanya of Hainan is above 20℃. Therefore, warm in the south, cold in the north, and large temperature difference between the north and the south are the distribution characteristics of winter temperatures in China.

Distribution of Summer Temperatures

In July, except for the high-lying Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and Tianshan Mountains, most areas in China are above 20℃ and many places in the south China are above 28℃. The Turpan Basin in Xinjiang has an average temperature of 32℃ in July and is the hot center of China in summer. Therefore, except for high-lying areas such as the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, high temperatures are common throughout the country, with little difference in temperature between the north and the south, which is the characteristic of China’s summer temperature distribution.

China’s Temperature Zone

China uses accumulated temperature to divide the temperature zone. Most crops can only grow actively when the average daily temperature rises steadily above 10℃, so the days when the average daily temperature continuously ≥10℃ are usually called the growth period. The sum of the average daily temperatures in the growing period is called accumulated temperature. Accumulated temperature in a region reflects the heat status of the region. According to the distribution of accumulated temperature, China has divided five temperature zones and a special Qinghai-Tibet plateau region. The heat in different temperature zones is different, the growth period is different, and the farming system and crop types are also obviously different.

  • Cold Temperature Zone: Heilongjiang Province and North of Inner Mongolia. (Representative city: Harbin)
  • Middle Temperature Zone: North of the Great Wall, most part of Inner Mongolia, Zhunger Basin. (Representative city: Beijing and Shenyang)
  • Warm Temperature Zone: South of the Great Wall, north of Qinling Mountains-Huaihe River, Tarim Basin. (Representative city: Xi’an and Luoyang)
  • Subtropical Zone: Most areas south of Qinling Mountain-Huaihe River. (Representative city: Shanghai, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Chengdu, Kunming)
  • Tropical Zone: Hainan, South part of Taiwan, Guangdong and Yunnan. (Representative city: Xishuangbanna and Sanya)
  • Plateau Climatic Zone: Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. (Representative city: Lhasa)

Four Seasons in China

The division of the four seasons in China started with beginning of spring, beginning of summer, beginning of autumn and beginning of winter in ancient times. Astronomically, the four seasons begin with vernal equinox, summer solstice, autumn equinox and winter solstice. Generally, March to May is spring, June to August is summer, September to November is autumn, and December to February of the following year is winter. Climate in our country is usually divided into four seasons by climate temperature: the average temperature is 22℃ for summer, less than 10℃ for winter, and between 10℃ and 20℃ for spring and autumn. The climate is different from place to place, so the duration of four seasons varies.


Turning from winter to spring, the weather is getting warmer and the temperature rises faster. In February, the average 0℃ isotherm is pushed across the Yellow River from Huaihe River, reaching the southern part of Inner Mongolia in March, and temperature is above 0℃ in April except for the northern part of Daxinganling Mountains, Altai Mountains, western Tianshan Mountains, Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and other mountain areas. The northeast China and Zhunger Basin range from 0℃ to 6℃, the Yellow River and Huai River basins and the Tarim Basin reach 12℃-16℃, and the south of the Yangtze river reaches 16℃-26℃. There is very little precipitation in spring. Except for a relatively wide area of spring rain on the south of the lower reaches of the Yangtze river, other areas are still dry and rainy.


  • Summer in China is mainly characterized by high temperature and rainy weather. Apart from the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, high temperatures are common throughout the country, with temperatures in July in vast areas ranging from 20℃ to 28℃. South of Huaihe River Basin, it is generally between 28℃ and 30℃. The extreme maximum temperature in Turpan Basin can reach 48.9℃. The Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is below 10℃.
  • Summer monsoon comes from tropical ocean and is the season with the highest precipitation in most parts of the country. In the area from the south of the Yangtze River to the north of Nanling mountains and in the mountainous areas of northwest Xinjiang, rainfall accounts for less than 40% of the annual rainfall, more than 60% in north and northeast China.
  • The plum rains region lies east of Yichang and between 26℃ and 34℃ north latitude. Generally, the plum rains period lasts for nearly a month from mid-June to early July. During this period, the rain continues, and often accompanied by heavy rain and thunderstorms, with a total rainfall of 300 mm.
  • Typhoons have a great impact on the southeast and southern coastal areas of China. The average number of typhoons landing in China is 9.2 times a year, mostly from July to September. Guangdong, Taiwan and Fujian are the three provinces with the largest number of landings, accounting for 88% of the total number of typhoons landing in China. Among which, Guangdong province is the most, accounting for about 40% of the total number of typhoons landing in the country.


Autumn is a “clear and refreshing autumn weather” with high sky and light clouds, fine and warm. The temperature changes in the opposite direction to spring, from warm to cold. The isotherm distribution in October is basically similar to that in April. In Daxinganling, Tianshan and Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, the average monthly temperature is below 0℃. The average monthly temperature in North China is 6℃-16℃. The Huaihe River, south of Qinling Mountains and north of Nanling are 16℃-22℃. South China is 22℃-24℃. There is less rainfall. Except for southeast coast, the eastern side of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, the south of Qinling Mountains, Sichuan and Guizhou regions, their rainfall accounts for more than 30% of the annual rainfall, most of the rest of the country is 15%-20%.


Winter is the coldest season in the whole year, and January is the coldest month in winter. More than two thirds of the country has the average temperature below 0℃. The 0℃ isotherm in January isotherm extends generally through Huaihe River and Qinling Mountains, westward to the southeast edge of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, and then through Hengduan Mountains to Nyingchi and Dirang Dzong in Tibet.

  • In the area north of the 0℃ isotherm, rivers are generally frozen. The average temperature in January is below-10℃ in northeast China, northwest China and most of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, with Daxing’anling, Xiaoxing’anling, Altai and northern Tibet plateaus below-20℃ and north of Daxing’anling below-30℃. The extreme minimum temperature in Mohe Town, the “Arctic Village” in China, reached -52.3℃.
  • In the area to the south of the 0℃ isotherm, there is no ice period of the rivers. The area south of Nanling is above 10℃. Taiwan, the southern tip of Hainan Island and the islands in the South China Sea are all above 20℃.

In a word, the temperature distribution in winter in our country is from south to north, and temperature gradually decreases with the increase of latitude. The temperature difference between north and south is extremely large, reaching over 50℃. On average, the temperature drops by 1.5℃ for every additional latitude to the north.

High Season and Low Seasons

High Season

High seasons for China travel are usually during Spring Festival(in late January and early February), Labor Day(May 1-3) and National Day(October 1-10). Tickets for trains, planes and hotels are difficult to buy during the peak tourist season because many people travel during this period. If you have to travel during the peak tourist season, it is strongly recommended that you take part in a group tour, which can definitely help you free from the difficulty of buying tickets. In addition, Students’ summer vacation(June-September) and winter vacation(January-February) are also the high season for travelling in China. However, if you prefer China’s traditional culture, and are fond of colorful local pageantry, you can travel to China during a traditional festival, such as Spring Festival and Mid-Autumn Festival, which allows you to experience a strong atmosphere of Chinese traditional culture. 

Read more: Chinese National Holidays

Low Season

Compared with high seasons, low seasons couldn’t be a better choice for travelling in China. In the off season, the related costs will be much lower than in the peak season. Tickets, admission fee and merchandise sold at tourist attractions will be cheaper. The off-season provides you with a quieter environment instead of a noisy and crowded place. During the peak period of travel, you may spend several hours taking photos, while during the off season, you can enjoy the beautiful scenery with less interference.

Best Time to Visit China- by Cities

In terms of weather, the best time to visit China is spring (April-May) and autumn (September-October). Most popular places in China have the best weather for traveling. Historical and cultural cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Xi’an are almost not affected by the weather. They are suitable to visit all year round. 

Keep Reading