With some minor exceptions it’s possible to visit China all year round given the country's enormous expanse. While the best time to travel weather-wise is between May and June or September and October, you are also likely to find crowds and delays during these periods. You may want to avoid visiting in July due to the high heat, humidity, and large amount of rainfall.
Temperatures in China vary tremendously, influenced mostly by latitude and monsoon activities. From north to south, the country has five separate climate zones: cold-temperate, mid-temperate, warm-temperate, subtropical, and tropical. Travelers who visit China during the winter may want to avoid the northern areas, as temperatures will sometimes drop below zero. Some areas in Heilongjiang Province report averages of -25°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 (18.3℃). Precipitation is fairly regular, showing a larger distribution in the southeastern section (31.5 inches annually) and decreasing across the country to the northwest (7.9 inches annually). China's 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.
April to November is the peak season for most of China. It's a good time to visit the incredible nature, attractions, and landmarks. However, during the National Holidays, such as Labor Day and the country's Summer Break in July and August, you may have to deal with noisy crowds and long queues. Expect greater prices and plan your China tours well in advance.
Avoid visiting during the Chinese New Year. This is China's most important holiday, with millions of locals taking the opportunity to travel. Chinese New Year is often celebrated in late January or early February. Flights will become more expensive, train tickets limited, and tourist attractions congested with domestic visitors. While major cities like Beijing and Shanghai keep their stores open throughout the holiday, many other locations throughout the country will be closed for a few days or even a week.
November to March is China’s low season and a great option for saving on your travel budget. With fewer crowds, you can visit China’s many top attractions while also enjoying the sights more comfortably with much shorter waiting in the queues. Some southern coastal cities like Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, and Sanya. are also a great option during the winter months given their year-long tropical climate.
Best Time of the Year to Visit Beijing
The nicest weather and most beautiful scenery in Beijing is definitely in May or September, with April and October being close runners-up. Summers are extremely hot, while winters bring freezing temperatures and even snow.
When it comes to visiting the Great Wall of China, spring is the ideal season as temperatures are pleasant and comfortable. This is a gorgeous time to see the mountains covered in blooming flowers, and as the trees begin to change color.
Best Time to Travel to Shanghai
Shanghai trips are best during October and May. This short autumn season has pleasant temperatures and lacks the crowds and rain of the summer season. Winter conditions might make urban exploration less fun. As Shanghai has few tourist attractions, two to three days should cover it.
Best Time to Visit Tibet
The best months to visit are between April and October when it is slightly warmer. However, local travelers typically visit Tibet in August and in the first week of October, making larger crowds more likely.
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, where most rainfall is concentrated, creating a dry tundra climate in the plateaus and valleys. The area experiences frost six months out of the year, and lakes will freeze over in the winter months.
June through August is the warmest time of the year, and 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.
November through March sees the coldest temperatures and is a fantastic time to visit if you are interested in culture. Many locals make pilgrimages and can be observed practicing their devout faith. Also, fewer crowds during these months give travelers a more authentic experience.
Travel is restricted to Tibet for 5-6 weeks during February and March each year due to local government restrictions. This is definitely something to keep in mind when considering your travel plans.