China is a huge country and the climate can vary widely from place to place, so it’s important to plan your trip accordingly. Your decision could change depending on what type of weather you enjoy and where exactly you want to visit.
Traveling the Golden Route of China (Beijing, Xian, Shanghai, and Guilin) is just like traveling through New York, Chicago, Santa Fe, and Jacksonville in America. In other words, you can experience different weather in China as you travel from place to place.
China is an ideal getaway all year round. Whenever you come, China has something for you, although the best times to visit China is in April, May, September and October. Traveling during these periods would reward you with comfortable weather and breathtaking landscape, while this also means your travel costs will likely be higher too. Traveling in other months of the year is also recommended because you can find less crowded attractions as well as cheaper accommodations.
China has a continental and seasonal climate, and while most parts of the country are in a relatively temperate zone, some areas in the south have a more tropical or subtropical climate. If you go far enough to the north, of course, there are many areas in a frigid zone that experience significant frost during the winter.
Consider the average seasonal temperatures of your destination so as to know what to wear:
Spring (10-22°C) – Jackets, sports coats, suits, and long sleeve shirts are appropriate for this time of year. Be sure to have some good travel shoes. Northern China is usually dry at this time, but rainfall increases the further south you travel in China. Rain can make for some of the most picturesque scenes depending on where you go: the Li River as seen from Guilin or the Yellow Mountains, for instance, are shrouded in mist during this time of year.
Summer (25°C and up) – You can wear T-shirts, short sleeves, skirts, and sandals, but you should also bring a cap and reliable rain gear. While the summer can be quite hot depending on where you travel to such as Beijing, Shanghai, and Xian, south and east China typically experience significant precipitation. At the same time, summer is when there is the most to do in China: from festivals and hiking, to sightseeing.
Autumn (10-22°C) – You will want some good water-repellent clothing and athletic shoes, as well as some light woolen sweaters, jackets, and other comfortable clothes. Aside from Hong Kong, the rains generally stop in the fall and the days are clear and cool. The change of colors and availability of ripe produce makes fall a popular time to visit China.
Winter (10°C and lower) – Be sure to have an overcoat, cotton clothes, and a lined coat. You should also consider bringing a hat, gloves, and padded shoes for particularly cold areas. Be aware that northern cities such as Beijing, Harbin, and Pingyao will experience considerable snow which does not appeal to some travelers, while others relish to winter scenes akin to those found in Chicago or New York at the same time of year.
In general, precipitation in China increases as you move from the north-west to the south-east, as the southern coasts are much more affected by the monsoons. These areas of the southern coast of China can receive upwards of 20 feet of rain per year.
Each summer, the western Pacific monsoon meets one from the Indian Ocean and bring considerable precipitation to southern China, especially the provinces of Guangdong, Guanxi, and Hainan beginning in April or May. The monsoon effect moves northward until it dissipates in October.