Best time to visit China

China is a vast country with a great variety of climate and conditions. The best time to visit China is during Spring and Autumn, between April - May or September - October as these periods offer pleasant weather throughout the country. December to January is a good time to visit the south where the weather can be hotter – Hainan Island, Guangdong, Hong-Kong, Macau. February-April is the best time to explore Yunnan. The best months for trekking, particularly in Tibet, northern Yunnan, Sichuan, and Qinghai are July and August, when the countryside is in bloom. November is the month when the snow-capped peaks of Sichuan reflect clear in pristine mountain lakes, and the trees of the forests burn from green to yellow then red against flawless ice-blue skies.

Best time to go

Beijing, the Northeast

Beijing’s weather is defined by four seasons.
From April to the end of May, springtime is warm, windy and dry. From June to mid-September, summer time is hot and most rain falls during this period. July and August are the hottest months with heavy rainstorms. The best time to enjoy Beijing is in the autumn months from mid-September to October where sunny days are pleasant, temperatures are cool and the flowers are blooming. From November to mid-March, winter is cold and dry with chilly days. The average temperature in December, January, and February below 0 C.

Weather (monthly averages)

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 Average minimum temperature
-10℃ -8℃ -1℃ 7℃ 13℃ 18℃ 21℃ 20℃ 14℃ 6℃ 2℃ -8℃
 Average maximum temperature
1℃ 4℃ 11℃ 21℃ 27℃ 31℃ 31℃ 30℃ 26℃ 20℃ 9℃ 3℃
 Average hours of sunshine
7 7 8 8 9 9 7 7 8 8 6 6
 Average rainfall in mm
4 5 8 17 35 78 243 141 58 16 11 3

Harbin, Heilongjiang, The North

Harbin has the highest altitude and experiences the lowest temperature in China.
March to May - Springtime experiences little rainfall but has occasional sandstorms and wind.
June to August- Most rain falls in the Summer months with average temperatures of 23 C.
September to October – Autumn days are cool with chilly nights.
November to February – Harbin experiences the coldest weather in China over winter with the highlight being the Ice and Snow Festival. There are many ski resorts here including Yabuli International Ski Resort for winter sports.

Weather (monthly averages)

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 Average minimum temperature
-24℃ -20℃ -10℃ 0℃ 8℃ 15℃ 18℃ 16℃ 9℃ 0℃ 10℃ -20℃
 Average maximum temperature
-13℃ -7℃ 2℃ 14℃ 21℃ 26℃ 28℃ 26℃ 21℃ 12℃ 0℃ -9℃
 Average hours of sunshine
 Average rainfall in mm
8 5 10 18 40 84 143 121 58 26 10 6

Chengdu, Sichuan ( Southwest )

Chengdu has a subtropical monsoon climate with an annual average temperature of 16 C . The hottest time is July and August, with the highest temperature reaching 37 C. The coldest month is January, with its lowest temperature dropping to -6 C).
Spring – last from the end of February until early May. This is the best time to see the peach blossom at Longquan Mountain, the pear blossom at Xinjin County and the peony at Danjing Mountain.
Summer – from mid-May to the end of August is hot and rainy. Humidity is high.
Autumn - from September to October is the best time to see the red maple and yellow chrysanthemum flowers.
Winter - from November to mid-February is cold with average temperatures of 5 C

Weather (monthly averages)

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 Average minimum temperature
3℃ 5℃ 8℃ 13℃ 17℃ 21℃ 22℃ 22℃ 19℃ 15℃ 10℃ 5℃
 Average maximum temperature
3℃ 5℃ 8℃ 13℃ 17℃ 21℃ 22℃ 22℃ 19℃ 15℃ 10℃ 5℃
 Average hours of sunshine
5 7 8 8 9 10 9 9 7 5 5 6
 Average rainfall in mm
8 12 20 44 79 107 225 201 100 35 16 5

Shanghai, Hangzhou, Suzhou (the East)

There are 4 distinct seasons in Shanghai. Spring from March to May is warm and pleasant and is the best time to visit. Most rain falls in the summer months from June to August and the weather is also at it hottest from July to August with average temperatures of 35 C. From late August to mid-September, typhoons can bring heavy rain to the coastal regions
Sep to November heralds the cool autumn season. December to February has overcast days and a cold winter.

Weather (monthly averages)

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 Average minimum temperature
1℃ 1℃ 4℃ 10℃ 15℃ 19℃ 23℃ 23℃ 19℃ 14℃ 7℃ 2℃
 Average maximum temperature
8℃ 8℃ 13℃ 19℃ 25℃ 28℃ 32℃ 32℃ 28℃ 23℃ 17℃ 12℃
 Average hours of sunshine
4 4 4 5 5 5 7 7 5 6 5 5
 Average rainfall in mm
48 58 84 94 94 180 147 142 136 71 51 36

Xian ( Central Northwest )

Xian has a continental monsoon climate. Summers days are hot and rainy, dry winters, and wet spring and autumn.
Spring from March to May has average temperatures of 14 C to 19 C. May is a good time to see the cherry blossoms at Qinglong Temple.
Summer is hot, rainy and humid. During the autumnal months of September and October, the weather is overcast with many rainy days. Winter from November to February is dry and cold with a little snow. The coldest month is January with an average temperature of 0 C.
The annual Lantern Festival is held within the Xian City Wall in middle January or February.

Weather (monthly averages)

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 Average minimum temperature
-4℃ -1℃ 4℃ 10℃ 14℃ 19℃ 22℃ 21℃ 16℃ 10℃ 3℃ -3℃
 Average maximum temperature
5℃ 8℃ 14℃ 21℃ 26℃ 31℃ 32℃ 31℃ 25℃ 20℃ 12℃ 6℃
 Average hours of sunshine
 Average rainfall in mm
7 10 29 42 60 54 99 71 92 60 24 6

Yunnan (Kunming, Lijiang, Dali, Zhongdian)

Yunnan is a year-round destination and has distinct dry and wet seasons. The dry season runs from November to April with plenty of sunshine and clear blue skies. The rainy season runs from May to October with most rain falling between June and August. January is the coldest month with an average temperature at 8 °C, while July is the hottest month with an average temperature of 18 °C.

March to May, during the spring time, the daytime weather is cool and dry but nights are very cold.
Summer from June to September is wet with most rainfall falling during this period. The hottest month is July
Autumn from October to November has pleasant, dry and cool. The rains begin to ease off.
Winter from December to February is mild and sunny, but cold.

In Yunnan, Spring and early summer are the best times to see the flora and fauna. Autumn and winter are the best times to see snow-capped mountains.

In summary, the best times to visit:

Lijiang - late March to May and mid-October to November.

Dali - March to June

Shangri-La - Oct to Nov offers the most spectacular colours.

Kunming- has a spring-like climate throughout the year. 

Weather (monthly averages)

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 Average minimum temperature
2℃ 3℃ 5℃ 9℃ 14℃ 17℃ 17℃ 16℃ 14℃ 12℃ 7℃ 3℃
 Average maximum temperature
15℃ 17℃ 20℃ 24℃ 25℃ 24℃ 24℃ 24℃ 23℃ 20℃ 18℃ 15℃
 Average hours of sunshine
8 7 7 6 6 3 3 4 4 6 7 8
 Average rainfall in mm
13 13 15 28 92 172 205 205 122 89 41 13

Tibet

The climate in Lhasa is divided into two seasons – dry season and wet season.
The dry season from late October to May is windy but with little to no rain. There is abundant sunshine throughout this period and some snow may fall in the high mountains. The wet season last from June to early October and warm and moist days.
The best time to visit Tibet and Mt. Everest Base Camp is from April to mid-June and Sept to Oct

Weather (monthly averages)

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 Average minimum temperature
-10℃ -7℃ -2℃ 1℃ 5℃ 9℃ 9℃ 9℃ 7℃ 1℃ -5℃ -9℃
 Average maximum temperature
7℃ 9℃ 12℃ 16℃ 19℃ 24℃ 23℃ 22℃ 21℃ 17℃ 13℃ 9℃
 Average hours of sunshine
6 6 8 6 5 2 2 3 5 10 10 9
 Average rainfall in mm
0 13 8 5 25 64 122 89 66 13 3 0

General travel tips

AIRPORT TAX
All airport taxes are included in the price of your ticket and do not need to be paid at the airport.

ARRIVAL FORMALITIES
Upon arrival in China, all visitors must complete an entry/exit form including a customs declaration. It is important that this form is kept safe with your passport while in China and is presented to the customs and immigration officials on departure. If you have booked a transfer service including a guide, our representative will be waiting in the arrivals hall holding a sign with your name.

ATM’S
Foreign credit, debit, and cash cards are useful for obtaining cash. However, few ATM machines are only for cards issued in China and do not accept foreign cards, always bring cash with you. ATM’S where this service is available to display the “International ATM Service” symbol (a green clover) and stickers indicating which cards are accepted. Cards from the Cirrus, Plus, Maestro and Visa Electron networks are accepted, as are Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Diners Club and JCB credit cards. VISA ELECTRON, PLUS, Maestro, Cirrus, China Unionpay, DISCOVER.

BUSINESS HOURS
Department stores and shops are open 7 days a week generally from 10 am to 7:30 or 8 pm or even 10 pm for malls. Museums attractions are open 7 days a week and close sometimes one day during the week (but very rare).
Offices are open Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5 pm or 6 pm.
Post offices 7 days a week, banks are sometimes open Saturdays and even Sundays. Restaurants are open generally from 10:30 am to midnight.

CLOTHING
There are no particular rules regarding clothing etiquette in China, except in Muslim holy places.

Lighter clothing in the summertime is best in China and (very) warm clothes in the winter, especially in Beijing, the Tibetan world and Mongolia. If you are travelling in the spring then bring some warmer clothes as the temperature does drop at night and in the mornings.

CREDIT CARDS
It is important to note that China is a cash society, and credit cards are not as widely used as in western countries. Credit cards are mainly accepted in urban areas in restaurants, shops, and hotels. However, it is not advisable to rely entirely on credit cards, as inexpensive restaurants and neighbourhood shops, especially in rural areas, often do not accept credit cards.

FOOD
China is said to have some of the best cuisines in the world. 8 main types of cuisine are generally found (Shandong, Jiangsu, Anhui, Zhejiang, Fujian, Guangdong, Hunan and Sichuan) are listed and offer diversity dishes from the delicious roast duck in Beijing to dim sum in Guangzhou. Most food is eaten with chopsticks so best get practising as cutlery is not always available in restaurants.

HEALTH
No mandatory vaccinations are required except for yellow fever if you are coming from an area where the disease is present. Please check with your GP as we are not qualified to provide specific medical advice.

LANGUAGE
The most widely spoken language is Mandarin, a complicated but fascinating language with 4 tones and 56000 Chinese characters.
If travellers need to ask directions or make enquiries, they’re best off seeking out younger people, especially university-age students, or businessmen, since many Chinese learn English at school (in the larger cities). It goes without saying that you should speak simply, slowly and articulately, and if you’re still having trouble communicating, you should write down the question instead of speaking it since many Chinese haven’t had the opportunity to converse in English but may be able to read it better.

INTERNET
Major hotels have Business Centres with PCs connected to the Internet. Almost all hotels have free LAN cable access in rooms and sometimes have wireless internet available if you bring your own laptop. Cybercafés are less popular than before, due to the prevalence of internet access on mobile phones and at home, but can still be easily found in major cities. China now has more than 450 million internet users and around 24 million of these are online gamers.

ELECTRICITY
The voltage is 220 volts. Some hotels are equipped with flat plugs. It is therefore advisable to bring an adapter with international plugs, flat-called "American" type plugs and "British" (3 pronged).

MONEY
The currency in China is the Renminbi (RMB) more commonly known as the Yuan, often abbreviated CNY and Hong-Kong dollar (HKD) in Hong-Kong. ATM’s distribute CNY around China.

PHOTOGRAPHY
China counts more and more photography lovers every day. Photo developing labs are common, providing normal print films as well as professional quality films (like slide films). Digital photos can easily be downloaded and loaded onto a CD in case you run out of memory.

Do not take pictures of people (especially elders) without asking permission 

POSTAL MAIL
Post offices are open Monday to Saturday from 9:00 to 17:00. You will usually find a post office at the hotel.
Do not post your letters in small towns and do not send them all to the same place. Have a glue stick to hand as Chinese stamps do not adhere very well.

RELIGION
China is a country of strong religious syncretism. It is still very difficult to find accurate statistics about the number of people participating in religions, even though Buddhism dominates the scene. What we can find is the recurring indication of the people’s religious spirit and the quasi-absence of an official religion throughout Chinese history.

Therefore, China has become a fusion of popular and old-fashioned beliefs: Confucian doctrines, Chinese-originated Taoism, the foreign versions of Buddhism, Islam, Judaism and Christianity.
It is not rare to find gods from the Taoist pantheons in the Buddhist temples or to find representations of Guanyin (the Chinese version of the Buddhist deity Avalokitesvara in India) in the Taoist temples (where she is known as Tianhou). With so many versions of one deity, even the Chinese become confused over the details.

SAFETY
China is a very safe country but like in all the big cities in the world, and especially in Beijing or Shanghai bar streets, you have to be a little bit more careful. Beware of your belongings in night trains.

SHOPPING
You find lots of jade, porcelain, cloisonné, lacquer, paper cut and especially silks and cashmere at attractive prices. There are regional specialities like embroidery in Southern China. Fixed prices are charged in-state stores (but everything is negotiable), while haggling is a national sport in markets. Several regions of China produce freshwater pearls of varying quality. The export of antiques is subject to conditions: objects dating from before 1911 cannot leave China. Always beware of imitations while shopping for goods.

TELEPHONE
To call China, dial 00 + 86 and the number of your correspondent.
As in many countries, hotels may add a large commission on long-distance phone calls. The best solution is to use a calling card found in the cabins of post offices, business centres or halls of small hotels.
In most cities, cell phones operate normally. However, we advise you to contact your operator (dependant on reception) to activate international calling and billing.

TIME
GMT +8

TIPPING
No tipping in restaurants, bars, massage parlours or anywhere except for guides and drivers.

TRANSPORTATION
The road network has significantly improved over recent years, except in the south and Tibetan World where many roads are under renovation or construction.
There are taxi ranks at every airport though may be a long wait during peak hours in Beijing and Shanghai. It is strongly recommended to have your destination address in Chinese.
The train is the meeting place of the Chinese! There are currently many types of train and the most noticeable is the arrival of the ultra-modern TGV (around 5 hours to reach Shanghai from Beijing), though the night trains provide a memorable experience. People board the train and eat containers of instant noodles with water from their thermos, gulp down unbelievable quantities of sunflower seeds, play cards, and clink glasses of beer or baijiu, the country’s rice liquor. There are four classes: ‘soft sleepers’ (first), ‘hard sleepers’ (2nd), ‘soft seats’ and ‘hard seats’. Reservations are generally made in first-class, barring unforeseen circumstances. The trains are slow and journey long but it is a great way to discover the Chinese way of life.

VISAS
Travellers applying for tourist visas must now submit a letter of invitation from a person or company in China, as well as proof of hotel reservations and a copy of their return air ticket. Though regulations are different for each country and the traveller’s passport must be valid for 6 months after their departure date. Alongside Shanghai, which already operates a 144-hour visa-free policy for 51 countries, Beijing will now offer the same to travellers at Beijing Capital International Airport.

WATER
Tap water throughout China isn’t safe to drink. Always drink water that has been boiled first or bottled mineral water.