With how massive China is, it’s not so much when is the best time to visit, but where to visit. Each season offers a different travel style and major city to explore, with local festivals and attractions opening their doors to travelers.
Though you may wish to experience Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, it should generally be avoided as this is a major public holiday, meaning all the locals are traveling as well, filling out hotels, transit services, and restaurants.
If you want to hit up the big city, definitely visit Beijing and Xi’an, both of which will enjoy comfortable weather, letting you easily experience the Great Wall while the trees are green.
This is the peak season that most travelers choose, including local students who have July to August free. Major cities become extremely hot during this period, so pack light and buy lots of water.
In turn, Tibet experiences comfortable weather, making it a great time to explore this unique region.
If you want to experience a touch of Chinese culture, take in the Dragon Boat Festival in June, a major public holiday that features colorful dragon boat racing, drinking realgar, and eating foods related to the number 5. In August you can also experience the romantic Qixi Festival, China’s valentines day that celebrates the meeting of the cowherd and weaver from Chinese mythology.
September to October are perfect traveling months, as the weather has evened out across the country, especially in Xinjiang, which is normally too hot or too cold. If you head inland you’ll experience amazing fall colors across a variety of forests, gorges, and mountains – just make sure to bring a jacket.
The major tourist cities like Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong all enjoy comfortable weather, unlike their intense summers.
If you’re in the big cities, you’ll definitely want to enjoy the Mid-Autumn Festival, which takes place on the 15th day of the 8th month based on the Chinese lunar calendar. It is the second largest festival in China after the Lunar New Year and is another major lunar holiday. Enjoy stalls offering moon cakes, ceremonies at major temples, and celebrate the beauty of the moon.
Winter is a hidden gem of China, letting you experience amazing festivals and comfortable weather, especially if you travel south to Hong Kong, Macau and Yunnan.
But if you really want to brave the cold, head inland to Harbin, home to an enchanting Ice and Snow Festival that rivals Hokkaido’s. From here you can explore unique Russian architecture, ski at a variety of comfortable ski resorts, and discover the majesty of the festival, including the colorful lanterns and ice sculptures.