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The Best & Worst Times to Visit China in 2024 (Our Take)

The Best & Worst Times to Visit China in 2024 (Our Take)

What's the best time to visit China?

The best time to explore China is in the spring, from March to May, and autumn, between September and November. During these months, the weather across the country is pleasantly mild, perfect for visiting everything from the Himalayas to the Great Wall. Plus, you’ll get to experience colorful cultural festivals like the Water Splashing Festival and the Mid-Autumn Festival.

It’s impossible to see all of China in one trip. The country is full of treasures, from the Himalayan Mountains in the south to the Great Wall of China in the north.

It has thousands of years of history, from the Forbidden Palace in Beijing to the ancient Terracotta Army in Xi’an. It’s also home to one of the world’s most bustling modern cities, Shanghai, diverse regional cuisines, and so much more.

Planning your trip to involves narrowing down what you want to see and also figuring out the best time to visit China — here’s our take.

Overall Best Time to Visit China

Beautiful flower field with purple and red and pink flower blooms pictured in Guangxi during the summer, the overall best time to visit China

Creative Family/Shutterstock

The best time to visit China is the spring or fall, when the weather is mostly mild throughout the country and you can enjoy some popular festivals.

China is a vast country with many different climate zones. They vary from cold Beijing and the temperate inner south to the nearly tropical weather of the southern coastal area. The weather differs greatly depending on where in the country you are traveling.

However, one thing all zones in the country have in common is milder weather in the spring and fall. By spring, the harsh winters of the north begin to mellow out, but the hot summers aren’t here yet.

In Beijing, average April temperatures are in the high 50s. Spring is a good time to get out into nature, as China’s famous wildflower blooms take over the highlands and even Beijing’s parks blossom. The fall is also mild, and the hot, humid summers are beginning to release their grip on the south.

Temperatures in cities such as Guangzhou drop to the pleasant high 70s in October, and the seasonal rains begin to peter out by September. If you visit the highlands in early fall, you can see some nice foliage.

Mount Huangshan near Shanghai is a favorite destination for China’s leaf-peepers. There are important festivals all year round in China, from traditional holidays following the lunar calendar and national holidays to popular regional festivals.

In the spring, popular events include:

Fall also has its fair share of popular festivals and cultural events, especially around Beijing, as people take advantage of the surprisingly clear weather. The most popular is the Mid-Autumn Festival, a September festival celebrating the moon.

Other popular autumn events include:

Cheapest Time to Visit China

Aerial view of the Great Wall pictured with snow on it and on the ground around it in the winter, which is the overall cheapest time to visit China

Su jp/Shutterstock

The cheapest time to visit China is usually during the winter, from November to March, when the cold weather tends to chase away many visitors.

Between December and March, China’s north is engulfed in bitterly cold winters. The south has milder weather, but it still doesn’t receive as many visitors. In response to this lower demand, prices tend to drop.

Prices for hotels and other accommodation options are the lowest in the winter. According to this study analyzing monthly hotel prices in Shanghai, the cheapest months to visit the city are November, December, and the beginning of January.

Prices drop again in March once popular holidays are over. You can snag some deals in July, but prices tend to be higher in the summer due to school holidays.

Flights to China also tend to be less expensive during the winter. Between December and February, you can usually find good deals on flights. Since this will be one of your biggest expenses, it’s a good idea to be flexible with your dates if you can and try tactics to save money, such as flying mid-week.

Many tour companies and activities limit their offerings during the winter off-season. Those that remain operational usually offer discounts for winter travelers, so take advantage of what you may find.

Least Busy Time to Visit China

View of the historic old city pictured during the least busy time to visit China, late winter, with empty streets and gloomy skies overhead


The winter season, between November and March, is the least busy time to visit China as long as you avoid the big holidays. Winter is the low season, primarily because of the weather but also because families can’t travel during this time due to school.

You can have many attractions to yourself, even in the more southern regions where winter is still quite warm. You can explore nature in the more temperate regions.

There is always something to do in China, no matter what time of year you visit. Popular events such as the Harbin Ice & Snow Festival, which runs all winter round, celebrate the cold with snow sculptures, a carnival, and more.

Cultural events such as the Beijing Literary Festival take place in late winter. However, winter is also the time when China’s Lunar New Year takes place. The exact dates of this festival vary depending on the year since it is held according to the lunar calendar, but it usually falls in late January and early February.

This is one of the most important festivals in the Chinese calendar. During this time, expect throngs of crowds as people living in and out of China try to go home and spend the holiday with their families.

Prices of flights and hotels go up dramatically compared to the rest of the season. While it’s a unique cultural experience to see the Lunar New Year celebrations, it is also one of the most hectic times in all of China.

Worst Time to Visit China

Photo of a monsoon over Hong Kong with a ferry getting rocked by the storm pictured during the worst time to visit China, the summer

HONG KONG – MAY 15, 2014: View of Victoria harbor just before a tropical cyclone. During summer, typhoons regularly skirt the city/Expose/Shutterstock

The worst time to visit China is in the summer, while you’ll also want to avoid the far north during the worst of winter. Summers in most of China are hot, humid, and very rainy.

China is also affected by the monsoon season, which brings very heavy rain between May and September. The southern coast, in particular, can suffer from devastating typhoons, such as Typhoon Saola, which killed at least one person in Hong Kong.

Summer weather is not only less than ideal for exploring, but it can be downright dangerous. Despite the challenging weather, summer is also one of the most busy times for visiting the country.

Children are off from school both domestically and abroad, so many families take advantage of this time to travel, while diaspora families return home to visit family. Expect higher hotel rates, more crowded trains, and longer lines for popular attractions.

You’ll want to avoid northern China during the winter, as temperatures can get bitterly cold, well below freezing. Air pollution in Beijing and other big cities is also at its worst in the winter, meaning that visiting can be dangerous for people with respiratory problems.

China by Month: Climate & Activities

Amazing scenery of Rainbow Mountain in Zhangye Danxia National Park, seen on a clear summer day during the best time to visit China


Still unsure about the best time to visit China? Take a look at our summary of the weather and climate by month below:


January in China, particularly in the north, is cold with temperatures often below freezing. It’s a perfect time to visit the Harbin Ice and Snow Festival, experience traditional Chinese New Year celebrations in cities like Beijing, and enjoy winter sports in Heilongjiang province.


February continues with the winter season, ideal for exploring the historic Forbidden City in Beijing under a blanket of snow, experiencing the Lantern Festival marking the end of Chinese New Year festivities, and visiting the warm southern provinces like Yunnan for milder weather.


As spring approaches, March brings pleasant weather, especially in regions like Guangxi and Fujian. Enjoy the beautiful cherry blossoms in Wuhan, explore the ancient city of Xi’an, home to the Terracotta Army, and hike in the stunning Yellow Mountains (Huangshan).


April’s mild weather, with the country in full bloom, is great for visiting the picturesque West Lake in Hangzhou, exploring the modern city of Shanghai, and enjoying the serene Li River in Guilin.


May offers warmer days and is perfect for a cruise on the Yangtze River to see the Three Gorges, visiting the Panda Breeding and Research Center in Chengdu, and exploring the colorful ethnic minority cultures in Yunnan province.


June marks the start of the warmer summer months. It’s ideal for exploring the Tibetan Plateau in regions like Qinghai and Sichuan, visiting the ancient Silk Road cities in Xinjiang, and experiencing the Dragon Boat Festival.


July’s warmth is perfect for hiking in the stunning Jiuzhaigou Valley, visiting the Great Wall near Beijing, and exploring the tropical island of Hainan, known for its beaches and resorts.


In August, enjoy exploring the grasslands of Inner Mongolia, experiencing the vibrant city life in Hong Kong, and visiting the historic temples and monasteries in Tibet.


September, with its pleasant weather, is perfect for exploring the Forbidden City in Beijing without the extreme heat, hiking in the Tiger Leaping Gorge, and visiting the Terracotta Army in Xi’an.


October’s cooler days are ideal for enjoying the Mid-Autumn Festival with mooncakes, exploring the bustling streets of Shanghai, and visiting the ancient water towns in the Jiangnan region.


November, as the air turns cooler, is a great time to explore the southern regions of Guangzhou and Shenzhen, which are milder, and experience the unique culture and landscapes of the Guangxi region


December brings colder weather, perfect for enjoying hot pot in cities like Chongqing and Chengdu, exploring the historic city of Nanjing, and experiencing the winter beauty of northern China, especially in Beijing and the northeast.

Frequently Asked Questions

Photo of the Guiyang China skyline with the Jiaxiu Pavilion pictured in the foreground, all lit up at night, with reflections of the tall buildings on the water

Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

These common questions can also help when choosing the best time to visit China:

Which is the best month to visit China?

April, May, and September are the best months to visit China. October is a close second after the first week is over.

What is the most beautiful season in China?

All of China’s seasons are beautiful in their own way, but many people say spring is the most beautiful, thanks to the gorgeous flower blooms.

Is China expensive as a tourist?

If you’re traveling from Europe or North America, getting to China can be expensive. Once you get there, you can travel on a budget by staying in cheaper inns and eating delicious street food.

What months are hot in China?

June, July, and August are hot throughout the country. The southern coast also gets hit with monsoons during this time.

What is the least expensive month to travel to China?

The least expensive month to travel to China is January, as long as you avoid the Lunar New Year holidays. November, December, and late February are also affordable.

So, What’s the Best Time to Visit China?

The best time to visit China is during the spring or autumn shoulder seasons when both the weather and crowds are more bearable. These seasons are also great for enjoying cultural festivals without the overwhelming crowds of the Lunar New Year.

So, with so much to see and do and plenty of amazing times to visit, what are you waiting for — book your trip today and experience for yourself all that China has to offer. Happy travels!