I’m Brett and I’ve been to China four times now (five if you include Hong Kong).
From my experience, the best time to go to China is either in the Spring or Autumn.
The two problems you need to consider are:
- The Chinese Weather
The Chinese Weather
The Chinese Winter can be extremely harsh. Most of China gets pretty cold in Winter, and only the coastal fringes bordering Hong Kong and Vietnam really escape the worst of the freezing winds blowing down from Siberia and Mongolia.
I went to Shanghai in January and I was surprised at how cold it was. Sure, the thermometer would suggest that Shanghai was actually warmer than my native England. But the Chinese air was dry, and my skin really dried out. On top of that I got a cold that proved very hard to shift.
So avoid China in the Winter!
As far as the Spring goes, April or May are good months to visit just about anywhere in China. The few weeks after Easter is normally a good time of year to pick up cheaper flights to Beijing or Shanghai.
Many parts of China get incredibly hot in Summer. By the coast there’s also the humidity to deal with. How hot is hot? Wuhan in Hubei Province has an average temperature of 37C in the Summer! Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Chongqing and other cities also get astoundingly hot in the Summer months.
Autumn is a great time to visit China. September or October are both very good months to visit. November is also a possibility, as flights are generally pretty cheap in this month.
So what are the Worst Times to Visit China?
People are always very excited about visiting China during the Mid-Autumn or New Year celebrations.
Don’t do it!
I was in Shanghai for Chinese New Years. Was it good? Well if you like 8 hours of fireworks and firecrackers then, yeah, it’s great. That was just what I needed after a 10 hour flight and an 8 hour time difference to contend with.
And don’t count on visiting many tourist attractions – because EVERYBODY in China will be on vacation, so anywhere you can possibly think of to visit will be full of tens of thousands of Chinese who also had the same idea that you did.
New Year and Mid-Autumn are also bad times to look for train or long distance bus tickets. Internal flights aren’t so bad, but naturally the airlines increase flight prices, especially in the week or so before the vacation.
Furthermore, the border crossings between Hong Kong and China also get insanely busy during vacations.
I’ve been in Guangzhou and Hong Kong during Mid-Autumn. Guangzhou gets insanely busy on vacation days, and I’ve seen women fall out of metro carriages, such was the crush of humanity. Hong Kong was also super busy during Mid-Autumn – while the mainlanders were on vacation there were immense queues for popular attractions like the Peak Tram.
Also watch out for any local events going on. For example, hotel prices rocket in Guangzhou during the twice yearly Canton Fair (usually in April and October).
So the best time to go to China is in the Spring or Autumn, but watch out for those Chinese public holidays!
So if you want to visit China then choose your timing carefully!
Finally, remember that both Mid-Autumn and New Year are dependent on the lunar calendar, so, like Easter, they fall on different dates each year.
If you have any questions about the best time to be visiting China, then use the comments section below.