While winter in China is the off season, with cold temperatures deterring many visitors, winter travel offers many benefits as well. Visiting China’s popular tourist destinations during December and January before Chinese New Year means fewer crowds to navigate through, and several Chinese cities host interesting cultural events during the winter months.
Weather is the most important consideration when planning your travels to China during the winter. Keep in mind China is larger than the United States, so winter in Beijing will be much harsher and snowier than in the southern provinces. If you’d like to escape the frigid weather, consider visiting Guangzhou or Yangshuo in the south. Temperatures in either city rarely approach freezing, and as long as you avoid traveling during the Chinese New Year, you’ll have many of the attractions to yourself. Warm up even more with a visit to tropical Hainan Island.
For travelers who can brave the cold temperatures and snowy conditions, Harbin’s Ice and Snow Festival showcases some pretty spectacular ice sculptures, many in the shape of live-size world monuments, and all lit up from the inside with colorful lights. Skiing is also quickly becoming popular in China, so winter’s a great time to try out the ski resorts in the northeastern part of the country, Yabuli Ski Resort being the largest.
Travelers visiting over the lunar new year (usually in late January or early February) will be treated to an authentic cultural experience no matter what city they visit. The Chinese New Year is the country’s most important holiday, and families in every city gather together to honor their ancestors, light fireworks and eat. Many of the larger cities, such as Beijing, Shanghai and Xiamen, host lantern festivals full of colorful cultural displays.