February Means the End of Winter
In most parts of China February means the end of winter; though it can still be bitterly cold. As winter is longer in the north, you may still see snow or melting ice in northern China at this time. In contrast to the north, southern China is already preparing to embrace the spring.
Visiting China in February, you will have a good opportunity to explore traditional culture and experience Chinese New Year. Chinese New Year begins on the first day of the first lunar month (usually in late January or early February) and ends on the 15th day of the first lunar month (Lantern Festival).
What to Pack
What you need to pack before a trip really depends on what kind of activities you are going to enjoy and which city you are heading to. As the climate varies in different areas of China, here are some tips based on four regions.
Cities including Beijing and Harbin are located in the northeast of China. Winter in the northeast is dry and windy, and in February, there is still the possibility of seeing snow. So besides heavy clothes and warm boots, a beanie or wool cap is recommended to protect the ears from frostbite.
Like the northeast, February in the northwest is dry. But the days tend to be foggy, without much wind. If you are heading to cities like Xi’an, jackets are recommended for daytime and heavy coats for the night. You may also want to bring your gloves.
The southeastern part of China is famous for cities such as Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Suzhou. February may be the coldest month in this area, especially when it rains. Heavy coats are recommended, better if also water-proof. Hiking boots are necessary if you plan to explore nature. Otherwise, a warm pair of walking shoes is enough.
The southwestern part of China is a mountainous area. It has famous cities like Chongqing and Guilin. By February, it is getting warmer, but the rainy days will still cut into your bones. If you want to visit the plateau area bring your jacket, sweater, nice walking shoes, common medicines and a pair of sunglasses. The climate in the plateau area is sometimes extremely cold.
Pros & Cons
Pros: February in some parts of China is already warming up and there will not be too many rainy days. Usually in this month (though sometimes in January), Chinese people will celebrate their most important festival – locally called Spring Festival, abroad called Chinese New Year – during which lots of traditional food and activities are prepared. This provides an opportunity for those who want to experience a Chinese New Year.
Cons: Visitors who are not used to the wet and chill in February may feel terrible. Also during February, you may be caught up in the Spring Rush, a period during which people working in big cities flood back to their hometowns; and travel-tickets sell out quickly.The shopping areas are crowded and there is a shortage of hotel rooms.
Want to Experience Local Traditions?
Visitors in February who happen upon Chinese New Year may have a chance to experience interesting traditions such as exchanging lucky money, eating tangyuan, or setting off firecrackers. Please note that the date of the festival varies from year to year. (Dates for forthcoming years are: January 28, 2017; February 16, 2018; February 5, 2019). See more about Spring Festival.
Traditional Beijing Lifestyle
Most first-time visitors will choose Beijing as one of their destinations, for a better understanding of Chinese lifestyle. Beijing abounds with a number of featured temple fairs in celebration of the festival, such as Chaoyang Temple Fair and Dongyue Temple Fair. In the temple fairs, various performances and booths demonstrating traditional arts and crafts is the highlight of the fairs.
Besides, there are also other characteristic activities in celebration of the festival, such as Spring Festival carnivals, acrobatics and tea culture displays, Peking Opera, and Beijing Spring Festival Concerts. Here is one of many tours highlighting local Beijing life: 4-Day Classical Beijing Tour.