Temperatures in China vary tremendously, influenced mostly by latitude and monsoon activities. From north to south, China consists of five separate temperature zones: cold-temperate, mid-temperate, warm-temperate, subtropical, and tropical. Generally, during winter the country is divided. Travelers who travel to China during these months may want to avoid the northern areas, as temperatures drop below zero degrees. Some areas in Heilongjiang Province report averages of -85°F whereas the Hainan Province maintains averages above 65°F.
During the summer months, most regions – excluding the high plateaus and mountains – remain above 65°F. Precipitation patterns are fairly regular, showing larger distribution in the southeastern section (31.5 inches annually) and decreasing across the country to the northwest (7.9 inches annually). The rainy season occurs predominantly from May to September and rich rainfall may cause flooding during these months. Droughts contribute to dry air in winter. During summer (April-May) the southeast and southwest monsoons reach the Chinese mainland and are the main cause of rainfall.
When to Go
Based on the weather, the best time to take a China trip is May-June and September-October, but you could run into crowds and delays during these periods. You may want to avoid China travel in July because it brings high heat, humidity, and a large amount of rainfall. A visit to Beijing in May or September is ideal, with April and October being close runners-up. Shanghai trips are most recommended in October and May.
While Tibet is at a high altitude and has four defined seasons, the temperature and climate variations throughout the year are not as extreme as most would suspect. The landscape is a high altitude plateau set amidst steep mountains, and rainfall is concentrated in the mountains. This creates a dry tundra climate in the plateaus and valleys. The area experiences frost 6 months out of the year, and lakes will ice over in the winter months.
The best months to visit are April through October, when it is slightly warmer. That being said, a large amount of domestic travelers typically visit Tibet in August and the first week of October. This may make this time less than ideal as you will face larger crowds.
June through August are the warmest months of the year but generally the wettest. However, the air has a greater concentration of oxygen making it a safer choice for those concerned about altitude sickness. This is also the season for many of the local festivals and outdoor activities.
May and September are some of the driest months, making them a great option for those looking to do hiking or tent camping.
The winter months, November through March, have colder temperatures. This is a fantastic time to visit if you are interested in culture, as many locals are making pilgrimages and can be observed practicing their devout faith. Also, fewer tourist crowds during these months gives travelers a more authentic experience.
Travel is restricted to Tibet during 5-6 weeks in February and March each year due to government restrictions in the area. This is definitely something to keep in mind when considering your travel time. Our Trip Planners will be a great resource as you get into the planning process.
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