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Home China Travel Guide Best Time to Visit China 2024

Best Time to Visit China 2024

Written by Asia Odyssey Travel|Updated: 2024-01-17

China, a land of staggering diversity, is a year-round marvel for travelers. Spanning approximately 9.6 million square kilometers, the country's climates range from the subarctic to the tropical, making a one-size-fits-all travel time elusive. Yet, for many of China's premier destinations, the temperate embrace of spring (March to May) and the crisp air of autumn (September to November) are widely regarded as the most favorable periods to visit.

This comprehensive best times to tour China guide, is tailored to the seasonal rhythms and monthly shifts that shape the nation's vast expanse. Whether you're seeking the bloom of cherry blossoms, the golden fall foliage, or the festive lantern-lit nights, we provide insights that streamline your travel planning. Let this be the starting point in charting your journey through China's wonders, aligning your travel dates with the optimal blend of weather, culture, and crowd levels for an unforgettable experience.

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  • triangleWhen is the Best Time to Visit China?
  • triangleChina Travel Seasons: When to Go & When to Avoid
  • triangleChina Travel Monthly Guide: What to Expect from January to December
  • triangleExploring China's Top Attractions: When to Visit
  • triangleBest Time to Visit China's Festivals
  • triangleExplore China from Whole New Perspectives with AOT

When is the Best Time to Visit China?

Most parts of China: Spring and autumn

The best time to visit most regions of China is during the spring and autumn seasons. These seasons are known for their mild climate, striking a perfect balance between the hot summers and cold winters. Visiting popular destinations in China, such as Beijing, Shanghai, Xi'an, Chengdu, Tibet, Guilin, Zhangjiajie, and Yangtze River cruises during these seasons provides a quintessential Chinese travel experience, combining cultural depth with natural beauty.

In the spring, from March to May, flowers bloom, bringing vibrant life to the country. Diverse flower destinations throughout China, including parks, cities, and mountains, become lively canvases of color, offering endless exploration opportunities. Parks in Beijing are filled with colorful blossoms, while places like Linzhi, Danba, and Hangzhou showcase captivating displays of peach, pear, and cherry blossoms respectively. Nature enthusiasts can indulge in outdoor activities like hiking, cycling, and exploring picturesque countryside.

Autumn in China experiences reduced rainfall and clear skies, making it an ideal time for tourism. As leaves turn golden, the scenery undergoes another transformation. Taking a stroll along the Great Wall, accompanied by the sound of crunching leaves, or cruising along the Yangtze River amidst a backdrop of golden foliage creates unforgettable experiences. Jiuzhaigou Valley showcases the most beautiful autumn landscapes, while popular mountains like Huangshan and Mount Emei provide optimal conditions for hiking.

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The blooming peach blossoms at West Lake herald the arrival of spring
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Autumn in Jiuzhaigou feels like a heavenly paradise on Earth

Best Time to Visit Southern China: October to April

For travelers seeking the ideal time to explore Southern China, the months from October to April are perfect. This period stands out for its mild climate, devoid of the intense heat and heavy rains characteristic of other times of the year. The subtropical weather of regions south of the Tropic of Cancer, such as Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Hainan, is especially pleasant, offering a warm escape without the extremes.

During these months, outdoor explorations and sightseeing are far more enjoyable. Cities come alive in the cooler weather, allowing tourists to comfortably visit landmarks like impressive skyline of Hong Kong, Guangzhou's Canton Tower, and Shenzhen's Window of the World. The beautiful island of Hainan also becomes an ideal spot for a beach holiday, with Sanya providing a tranquil atmosphere for relaxation and sunbathing.

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Hong Kong Skyline
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The impressive Canton Tower in Guangzhou leaves a lasting impression

Northeast China: Winter, November to March

Venture into the heart of winter by traveling to Northeast China, where the season, spanning from November to March, presents an icy realm of adventure and cultural splendor. Dongbei, encompassing the provinces of Heilongjiang, Jilin, and Liaoning, becomes a playground for those who revel in the chill of winter and the beauty it brings.

As temperatures drop, the city of Harbin takes center stage, hosting the world-renowned Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival. Here, visitors can wander through a luminous cityscape of ice, marveling at sculptures that tower and gleam against the night sky. The festival is a testament to the region's celebration of the cold, drawing spectators and artists from around the globe.

Winter sports are in full swing, with powdery slopes at resorts like Yabuli beckoning skiers and snowboarders alike. For a taste of local thrills, ice skating across vast frozen lakes or snowmobiling through frosted forests are experiences not to be missed.

China Travel Seasons: When to Go & When to Avoid

Peak Season in China

The peak tourist season in China is generally considered to be from April to November. However, the school holidays in July and August also contribute to overcrowding at popular tourist attractions. During the Golden Week holidays around May 1st and October 1st, visitor numbers are expected to reach their peak at various scenic spots.

Off-Season in China

During the winter season (December to February), except for the northeastern region where winter sports are popular, most parts of China experience fewer tourists. If you wish to avoid crowds and don't mind the cold weather, now is a great time to visit. Additionally, you can take advantage of more favorable prices.

When to Avoid

If you're planning a trip to China, be mindful of the peak times that correspond with national holidays and school vacations, when tourist sites are most crowded and travel is most challenging. Specifically, try to avoid the Golden Week holidays around May 1st (Labor Day) and October 1st (National Day), when domestic travel spikes, causing congestion and fully booked accommodations. Prices also tend to rise during these periods.

The Chinese New Year, varying each year between late January and early February, is another time to steer clear of travel. The holiday triggers widespread movement across the country, making transport tickets hard to come by and leading to reduced services as businesses close for the celebrations.

For those who must travel during these busy times, it's critical to book well ahead and consider less touristy destinations, like northwest China, to escape the worst of the crowds.

China Travel Monthly Guide: What to Expect from January to December

January in China

In January, the average temperature in China hovers around -5.3°C. The northeast plunges into bitter cold, routinely sinking well below freezing. In contrast, regions like Shanghai, Xi'an, and Chengdu typically experience temperatures just above the freezing point. Southern China, including Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Hainan, enjoys a more temperate climate. Meanwhile, Western areas such as Tibet and Xinjiang experience very low night temperatures, although the daytime warmth brought by sunlight keeps temperatures above freezing.

For your January travels in China, consider heading north to Harbin to witness the magnificent Ice and Snow Festival. There, you can marvel at massive ice sculptures and partake in winter sports such as skiing, sledding, and ice fishing. If a warmer winter sojourn appeals to you, Lhasa offers sunbathing and a chance to observe devout pilgrims, while Sanya's beaches and Kunming's mild climate provide a cozy retreat from the cold.

Destinations: Harbin, Sanya, Lhasa, Kunming

Activities: Skiing, winter sports, vacationing, New Year celebrations

Warm Attire: Bring layers including thermal clothing, down jackets, wool sweaters, and snow boots.

You might enjoy exploring China in January.

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The climate in Shenzhen in January is mild
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Basking in the sunshine in Lhasa is a delightful experience

February in China

February in China brings a diverse climate across the country. Harbin, Shenyang in the north may continue to endure temperatures below freezing. Cities like Shanghai, Xi'an, and Chengdu in the east and central parts of the country could still face cold weather but may also start to show the first signs of the approaching spring. In the south, cities such as Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and the island of Hainan see a significant rise in temperatures, making outdoor activities more enjoyable.

February is also an important time for cultural celebrations, as it often marks the Chinese New Year according to the lunar calendar. Travelers can immerse themselves in the vibrant festivities, which include dazzling fireworks displays, traditional dances, and family gatherings.

Destinations: Harbin, Kunming, Lijiang, Sanya, and Lhasa.

Activities: Engage in winter activities or participate in the Chinese New Year celebrations.

Packing Tips: Bring warm attire suitable for the northern chill, alongside lighter options for the milder southern climate. Don't forget to include something festive to wear for the New Year celebrations!

Consider exploring the wonders of China in February.

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Harbin Ice and Snow World
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Sanya is the ideal destination for travel in China during February

March in China

March signifies the advent of spring across China, with the national average temperature around 12°C. In eastern and central cities such as Shanghai, Xi'an, and Chengdu, temperatures rise significantly, heralding the official arrival of spring. This inviting weather makes it an optimal time for outdoor activities, with many parks and gardens bursting into life.

To capture the most enchanting aspects of spring, one should consider visiting the sea of peach blossoms in Nyingchi, Tibet, and the vibrant hues of willows and peach trees along the Su Causeway in Hangzhou's West Lake, which will once again inspire poets and artists alike. Surrounding West Lake, the Longjing tea fields invite visitors to partake in the harvest and savor a cup of freshly picked, aromatic tea.

Destinations: Beijing, Hangzhou, Nyingchi, Wuyuan, Danba

Activities: Take a countryside excursion, enjoy a leisurely boat ride on the lake, and engage in tea tasting.

Packing Tips: With the warmer weather, lighter clothing options are recommended. However, it's wise to bring layers for cooler evenings. An umbrella or a waterproof jacket is also advisable for the occasional spring rain. Pack comfortable walking shoes for outdoor excursions and sightseeing tours. Don't forget to bring a camera to capture the splendid spring scenery.

Exploring China during March could provide you with an enjoyable adventure.

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In late March, Linzhi is adorned with blooming peach blossoms
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Picking Longjing tea near West Lake becomes popular in March

April in China

April is an idyllic time to travel across China, as the climate is pleasant and spring is in full swing. With average temperatures ranging from 11°C to 25°C, regions from the north to the south, including cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Xi'an, Chengdu, Guangzhou, and Guilin, offer mild and comfortable weather perfect for tourism.

This month is an excellent opportunity to experience traditional landscape arts in the classical gardens of Suzhou or to witness the stark contrast between China's past and future along the Bund in Shanghai. Nature enthusiasts will find April an ideal month as well. A leisurely cruise down the Li River showcases the iconic misty karst landscapes of Guilin, while a visit to the Longsheng rice terraces offers a glimpse into traditional farming methods.

Flower viewing is still a highlight of April. The pear blossoms in Danba, the cherry blossoms at Yuyuantan Park in Beijing, and the peach blossoms in Nyingchi are in full display, inviting visitors to enjoy their splendor.

Destinations: Beijing, Shanghai, Guilin, Nyingchi, Danba

Activities: Flower viewing, river cruising, hiking, and cycling.

Packing Tips: Bring a variety of clothing to layer as temperatures can fluctuate, including light jackets for cooler evenings. Waterproof items might come in handy for the southern regions due to possible spring showers. Comfortable footwear is essential for walking and hiking.

If you're interested in traveling, consider exploring China in April for an enjoyable experience.

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The classical gardens of Suzhou
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The magnificent Longsheng Rice Terraces scenery

May in China

May is one of the best times to visit China, thanks to its clear skies and warm temperatures that lend themselves to a multitude of outdoor activities. During this month, historical and cultural sites like the ancient city walls of Xi'an, the tranquil teahouses of Chengdu, and the Giant Panda sanctuaries become particularly enchanting destinations, drawing visitors from around the world.

For adventure enthusiasts, May marks the perfect season for mountain climbing. China's renowned peaks such as Huangshan, Emeishan, Wuyishan, Huashan, and Taishan await those looking to explore their majestic beauty. Among the most significant of these expeditions is the journey to the Everest Base Camp in Tibet, which offers the best conditions and clear views of the world's highest summit during this time.

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The adorable black and white bears are always active in May
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Visiting the famous Huangshan Mountain is highly popular

The country's rivers also present spectacular opportunities for sightseeing. Cruises along the Li River and the Yangtze River are popular activities, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the stunning scenery that lines these historic waterways. In Longsheng, the rice terraces are irrigated, creating a mirrored effect across the tiered fields that produce a unique and breathtaking visual spectacle.

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Getting up close to the world's highest peak is an extraordinary experience
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Indulge in a leisurely Li River cruise and savor the tranquility

Destination: Beijing, Shanghai, Guilin, Zhangjiajie, Tibet Everest Base Camp, Xi'an, Chengdu, and Yangtze River, Guilin, Zhangjiajie

Activities: river cruising, mountain climbing, trekking

Packing Tips: For your travels in May, pack light and breathable clothing to accommodate the warm days, but also bring along a light jacket or sweater for the cooler evenings.

Experience the allure of China in May and let its beauty captivate your soul.

June: A Season of Contrasts

In June, China transitions into early summer with warm temperatures and a mix of clear and rainy days, particularly in the south. This season offers diverse travel experiences ranging from cultural excursions to natural getaways.

Yunnan Province is ideal with its mild weather and lesser rain, perfect for exploring ancient towns and diverse cultures. Inner Mongolia offers vast grasslands, where the nomadic life and clear skies provide a unique adventure. For natural beauty and cooler temperatures, Qinghai and Gansu display stunning landscapes and Tibetan culture.

Urban explorers can enjoy Shanghai's indoor attractions, offering relief from the humid climate. Meanwhile, Sichuan Province is enticed by its spicy cuisine and the charm of its giant pandas, even under the drizzle. Coastal cities like Qingdao and Dalian lure visitors with their pleasant seaside climate and fresh seafood.

Destination: Kunming, Dali, Shangri-La, Xining, Dunhuang, Lanzhou, Hohhot, Dalian, Qingdao

Activities: Sightseeing, photography

Festival: Dragon Boat Festival, Saga Dawa Festival

Packing Tips: Short-sleeved shirts and T-shirts, Lightweight and comfortable shoes, sunglasses, sunscreen, rain gear

Dive into the richness of China in June and let your senses come alive.

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Relish leisurely moments at a tea house in Chengdu
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The Bund, Shanghai

July in China

July in China is characterized by the peak of summer, with high temperatures and heavy rainfall in many areas due to the monsoon season. Despite the scorching weather, it's a vibrant time to experience Chinese culture, nature, and city life.

For those looking to escape the heat, the northern and high-altitude regions offer a cool respite. Inner Mongolia boasts vast grasslands, serving as a refreshing getaway with gentle breezes. It's also an opportunity to witness the Nadam Festival, showcasing Mongolian-style wrestling, horse racing, and archery. Tibet is another summer retreat, with the spiritual ambiance of the Potala Palace and the trekking adventures of Mount Kailash being the most appealing.

Urban adventurers will find Shanghai, Beijing, Xi'an, and other cities brimming with vitality. Despite the hot weather, the night markets and outdoor dining remain bustling. During the day, there are plenty of museums and shopping centers to explore.

Destination: Shanghai, Beijing, Xi’an, Inner Mongolia, Tibet

Activities: Sightseeing, photography

Packing Tips: Lightweight clothing, sunscreen, umbrella, comfortable shoes

Discover the wonders of China in July, and enjoy every moment.

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Potala Palace, Lhasa
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Embark on a sacred pilgrimage by trekking to Mount Kailash

August in China

August in China offers a steamy climate, yet it's rich with unique cultural events, natural wonders, and outdoor fun.

Chill-seekers flock to the cool climates of Tibet, Qinghai, and Inner Mongolia. For those desiring a breezy beach experience, Dalian's milder summer is perfect for seaside relaxation. Water parks in Guangzhou, Shanghai, Beijing, Sanya, Nanjing, Chengdu, Shenzhen, and Wuhan become top picks for family entertainment.

Embrace cultural festivities like Yunnan's Torch Festival and Tibet's Shoton Festival this month.


Beijing, Shanghai, Xi'an, Chengdu, Dalian, Kunming, Xining, Lanzhou, Hohhot


Sightseeing, water fun, camping

Festival: Yunnan's Torch Festival, Tibet's Shoton Festival

Packing Tips:

Pack light, moisture-wicking apparel, sunscreen, hats, and a sturdy umbrella or raincoat

Embrace the beauty of China in August and experience pure joy.

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Tibet Shoton Festival
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Ethnic performance in Shenzhen Splendid China Folk

September in China

With September comes a mild and comfortable climate across China, providing an ideal setting for travelers to enjoy the country's vast offerings.

Beijing is particularly pleasant, as the autumn air brings clarity and freshness, perfect for visiting iconic landmarks like the Great Wall and the Forbidden City. The reduced heat and humidity make for an enjoyable exploration of the city's rich history.

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Forbidden City, Beijing
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The Great Wall, Beijing

In Hangzhou, the legendary West Lake is a sight to behold amidst the beginnings of autumn. Visitors can enjoy the tranquil beauty of the lake and the surrounding tea plantations, which are ripe for the season's early harvest.

Jiuzhaigou Valley transforms into a canvas of vivid colors in September. The valley's forests and alpine lakes reflect a spectrum of autumn hues, creating a photographer's paradise.

Huangshan (Yellow Mountain), with its cooler temperatures, invites hikers to traverse its granite peaks shrouded in mist, offering surreal vistas and a chance to escape into nature's embrace.

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The colorful world of Jiuzhaigou Valley.
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Autumn in Huangshan Mountain is dotted with red and yellow trees

Travelers to Guilin will find the weather just right for cruising down the Li River, where the karst mountains provide a dramatic backdrop to a peaceful journey.

Lastly, Tibet opens up under blue, clear skies, offering spiritual solace and stunning natural landscapes, while Xinjiang celebrates the harvest with lush fruit orchards and the dazzling gold of poplar trees.


Beijing, Hangzhou, Jiuzhaigou Valley, Huangshan, Guilin, Xinjiang


Sightseeing, trekking

Festival: Mid-Autumn Festival

Packing Tips:

Light layers, umbrella, comfortable shoes, travel documents, adapter, sunscreen

China in September: a journey you won't forget.

October in China

China in October offers a cool and pleasant climate, ideal for exploring its natural and cultural wonders.

In Beijing, the golden leaves create a stunning backdrop at the Summer Palace, while Jiuzhaigou Valley dazzles with its autumnal colors. Huangshan is perfect for brisk mountain hikes amidst floating clouds and ancient pines. Guilin's Li River provides tranquil cruises, with reflections of the towering karst peaks.

Xinjiang showcases golden poplar forests and abundant harvests, and Tibet remains clear for spiritual journeys. Lastly, cruise through the Yangtze River's Three Gorges for breathtaking river views wrapped in fall's embrace. October's cool weather is the perfect companion for the diverse experiences across China.


Beijing, Jiuzhaigou Valley, Huangshan, Guilin, Xinjiang, Tibet


Sightseeing, trekking

Packing Tips:

Light jacket, comfortable shoes, umbrella, travel adaptor, camera

Unlock the secrets of China in October.

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The scenic beauty of the Summer Palace
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Indulge in a Yangtze River cruise and enjoy the journey

November in China

November provides a calm atmosphere for those looking to immerse themselves in China's rich history and culture. The quieter streets of Beijing allow for reflective visits to its ancient palaces and temples, where the autumnal chill adds to the solemn beauty of these historic treasures.

Nature enthusiasts will find a special allure in the landscapes of Guilin and Yunnan during November. The soft light and cool air of late autumn accentuate the natural beauty of Guilin's winding rivers and karst formations, while Yunnan's terraced fields offer a picturesque tranquility before winter sets in.

For urban adventurers, Shanghai's cooler days are filled with the vibrancy of art festivals, bringing a creative spirit to the city's modern pulse. It’s an ideal time for exploring dynamic streets and enjoying the city's famed skyline and cuisine in Hong Kong.


Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Guilin, Yunnan


Sightseeing, city walk

Packing Tips:

Warm layers, jacket, scarf, gloves, hat, comfortable shoes

Immerse yourself in China's splendor in November.

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The stunning karst landscapes of Guilin
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Hong Kong Skyline

December in China

Festive North: Harbin's Ice and Snow Festival transforms the city into a winter wonderland, attracting visitors with its artistic icy marvels.

Sunny South: In contrast, Sanya offers beachside relaxation, while Guangzhou and Shenzhen stay pleasantly warm, ideal for enjoying outdoor activities.

Vibrant Metropolises: Hong Kong and Shanghai sparkle with festive lights and events, perfect for holiday season explorations in their mild winter climates.

Historical site: Yunnan and Xi'an promise cultural discoveries with fewer tourists, amidst temperate weather that enhances the exploration of ancient sites.


Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Sanya, Yunnan


Sightseeing, city walk

Packing Tips:

Warm coat, hat, gloves, scarf, layers, thermal socks, boots

You might enjoy exploring China in December

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Join the Harbin Ice and Snow Festival for a memorable experience
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The world-renowned Terracotta Warriors of Xi'an

Exploring China's Top Attractions: When to Visit

Destination Attractions Best Time to Visit
Beijing Great Wall, Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven Spring (March-May) / Autumn (September-November)
Shanghai The Bund, Yu Garden, Shanghai Tower Spring (March-May) / Autumn (September-November)
Xi’an Terracotta Army, Ancient City Wall, Muslim Quarter Spring (March-May) / Autumn (September-November)
Chengdu Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, Jinli Street Spring (March-May) / Autumn (September-November)
Guilin Li River, Reed Flute Cave, Elephant Trunk Hill Spring (March-May) / Autumn (September-November)
Zhangjiajie Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, Tianmen Mountain Spring (March-May) / Autumn (September-November)
Tibet Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Mount Everest Spring (April-May) / Autumn (September-October)
Yangtze River Three Gorges, Fengdu Ghost City, Yichang Spring (March-May) / Autumn (September-November)
Hong Kong Victoria Peak, Disneyland, Lantau Island Winter (November-April)
Hangzhou West Lake, Lingyin Temple, Longjing Tea Fields Spring (March-May) / Autumn (September-November)
Kunming Stone Forest, Dianchi Lake, Green Lake March-October
Sanya Yalong Bay, Tianya Haijiao, Nanshan Temple Winter (December-February)
Harbin Harbin Ice and Snow Festival, Saint Sophia Cathedral, Sun Island Winter (January-February)

Best Time to Visit China's Festivals

Festival Location Best Time to Visit
Chinese New Year Nationwide Late January to February
Lantern Festival Nationwide Usually February or March
Qingming Festival Nationwide April
Dragon Boat Festival Nationwide, especially in the south Usually June)
Mid-Autumn Festival Nationwide Usually September or October)
Double Ninth Festival Nationwide Usually October)
Harbin Ice and Snow Festival Harbin January to February

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