I'm often asked when the best time to travel to
China is. Journeywoman has been in that part of the world
four times -- always between November and January. Hong Kong
was just fine in December -- I even did my Christmas shopping
in a light sweater
-- no coat that time. Beijing has been damp and cold in fall
and winter. In fact, in January 2003 it snowed when I was
there. We dressed in layers and wore the same outer clothing
as we would have worn in Toronto, Canada during the winter
months. Each visit, each climate had its very own charm. I'd
like to plan my next visit for Spring or Fall however their
summers seem much too hot and humid.
Journeywoman went to
her travel library to see what guidebooks say about the
weather in China. The following are excerpts from three
guides that we use a lot here in the office, Traveler's
Weather Guide, China
Guide and The Treasures
and Pleasures of China.
"The best weather is May-June and September-October,
but you could run into crowds and delays. You could also
try late April. In November, go to Beijing first and then
move south. Guangzhou, Guilin, Hong Kong and Hainan are
wonderful in November and December."
(China Guide, Ruth Lor Malloy)
Treasures and Pleasures of China
"Given the vastness of China, its seasons and climates
vary depending on when and where you visit China. In general,
we like to compare China to the United States and much of
Europe. It's hot, it's cold, it's rainy, it's dry depending
on where and when you visit the country. China experiences
extreme cold and heat. Although there is no one ideal time
to visit China, Spring and Fall, especially the months of
April and October, are usually good times to visit."
(The Treasures and Pleasures of China, Ron and Caryl
China is uniformly warm, humid, and rainy in the summer.
In contrast, winter weather can vary considerably from city
to city. Beijing, for example is very cold in the winter,
with afternoon highs averaging only 34 degrees. Shanghai's
January high is only 46. Hong Kong's tropical climate keeps
it mild even in January, where highs are in the 60s. Rainfall
in China is concentrated primarily in the summer months
- July in particular should be avoided due to its high heat,
humidity, and generous rainfall.
The best times to visit Beijing are in the early Fall and
late Spring, especially May and September, with April and
October almost as pleasant. Humidity, however, can be high
from June to September. Shanghai is very pleasant in October
(Traveler's Weather Guide, Tom Loffman)
A note from a reader...
May and October are both excellent times to travel anywhere
in China, except the week of International Labor Day (1st
of May) and the week of National Day (1st of Oct.). Chinese
people get a week off for both holidays. Tourist destinations
are a lot more crowded during those time.