Maybe you’ve never been aware of the vast continental expanse that China can dish up: from a host of interesting wintertime travel destinations, ranging from snowy mystical mountain tours to outright luxurious South Sea island getaways. Your next traditional- or highly nontraditional- Chinese winter holiday is only a click away!
1. Hong Kong – Chinese and Western Carnival Time
Fireworks Display at Victoria Harbor
With an average temperature of 16ºC (61ºF) and various festive activities, winter (Dec.-Feb.) is the best season to visit Hong Kong. Christmas, New Year’s Day and Spring Festival (aka Chinese New Year) are the three most important events in Hong Kong and all happen in winter. Celebrations of these festivals include a fireworks display at Victoria Harbor, Chinese New Year Parade, the night-long flower markets, and New Year horse racing.
Besides, it is also the best time for shopping- shopping malls in Hong Kong usually offer the maximum discount in December.
- Best time to visit: from December to February
- Recommended visiting time: 4-5 days
- Highlights: Disneyland, Victoria Harbor, Victoria Peak, dim sums, outlying islands, racecourse
- Experience tour with us: Essence of Hong Kong Tour
2. Beijing – Celebrating Chinese New Year with Hutong People
Making Dumplings with Locals
Beijing people celebrate Chinese New Year in some different ways from those in Hong Kong. They usually stay at home to paste paper cut-outs and make dumplings on New Year’s Eve. Then they offer incense and do some prayers at temple fairs on the 1st day of the 1st lunar month. For the rest of the holiday, they go skating on a frozen lake or go skiing at Nanshan Ski Resort with their children.
Listed by Lonely Planet as one of the top 10 places in Asia Pacific to visit in 2019, Beijing is blessed with thousands of years and varieties of tourist treasures. Visitors can join in New Year’s Eve celebration with a hutong family or enjoy the snow-covered Forbidden City and the Great Wall with fewer (or sometimes no) tourist crowds in winter.
- Best time to visit: from the 1st to the 7th of the 1st lunar month (it usually varies every year, but most often is late January or early February)
- Recommended visiting time: 3-4 days
- Highlights: traditional Chinese New Year culture, less-crowded Forbidden City and the Great Wall
- Experience tour with us: Beijing Hutong Culture Discovery Tour
3. Harbin – International Ice and Snow Festival
Harbin Ice and Snow Festival
Travelers who want to visit Harbin in winter can enjoy a sculpture feast during the International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival. The festival is usually held in Zhaolin Park from January 5th to the end of February in every winter, attracting a lot of ice sculpture lovers who come here from home and abroad to take part in the sculpture-making activities.
During the event, Zhaolin Park will be full of beautiful ice and snow sculptures and lanterns, which are shaped into animals, plants, buildings and themed gardens. In the evening, the sculptures, decorated by lights, will be extremely amazing and glorious. It’s chilly cold, but still worth a visit.
- Best time to visit: January, February
- Recommended visiting time: 2-3 days
- Highlights: Ice & Snow World, Central Street, St. Sofia Orthodox Church, Yabuli Ski Resort, Russian Cuisine
- Experience tour with us: Harbin’s Ice Wonderland
4. Yunnan – Tropical Rain Forest and Top Rice Terrace
Yuanyang Rice Terrace in Winter
Yunnan Province in southwestern China is a great place to escape from chilly winter. It has various landscapes from tropical rain forests to snow-capped peaks. According to the different tourist resources, Yunnan can be divided into four areas:
- In the northwest: Dali, Lijiang, Shangri-La are the most popular destinations, ideal to travel in spring, summer and autumn.
- In the middle and northeast: Kunming, Dongchuan and Luoping, good for spring travel
- In the south: Xishuangbanna and Yuanyang Rice Terrace, best for winter travel
- In the west: undeveloped border area
Xishuangbanna Nature Reserve is teeming with monkeys, leopards, tigers, Asian elephants, wild oxen, giant lizards and boa constrictors, while Hani Rice Terrace in Yuanyang, regarded as the top of the top rice terraces in China, will offer excellent scenery for winter travel.
- Best time to visit: from December to February
- Recommended visiting time: 4-7 days
- Experience tour with us: Wild Yunnan Tour- Kunming, Xishuangbanna, Lijiang
5. Yellow Mountain – Snow-Capped Mountains with No Crowds
Yellow Mountain in Winter
The Yellow Mountain, or Mt. Huangshan, is a popular destination all the year round- views change depending on the season. In winter, it changes into a picture of sliver peaks embraced by frost, ice, and rime on trees with floating snowflakes- classic winter beauty. More importantly, it is a great opportunity to avoid tourist crowds- winter is the least-visited season in the Yellow Mountain. Don’t forget your winter hiking gear.
- Best time to visit in winter: from December to February
- Recommended visiting time: 2 days
- Highlights: sea of clouds, rime, snow, sunrise, hot spring
- Experience tour with us: Huangshan Tour from Shanghai
6. Hainan Island – Get Rid of Winter Chill
Hainan Island, located in the far south of China, is widely loved by travelers who want to escape freezing winter. Golden beaches, pretty sunshine, wonderful island landscapes and warm weather make Hainan one of the most popular winter destinations in China.
Haikou on the northern coast and Sanya on the southern coast are the main cities to visit. Travelers can go swimming or take part in some other water activities in winter there. Yalong Bay, Wuzhizhou Island and Tianya Haijiao ("the Remotest Corners of the Globe", a must for couples) are always on the must-visit list for every traveler in Hainan.
- Best time to visit: from December to March
- Recommended visiting time: 5 days
- Experience tour with us: Romantic China Tour- Beijing, Xi’an, Shanghai, Sanya, Hong Kong
Pay Attention to Spring Rush
The Spring Festival Travel Season, or Spring Rush, also referred to “chūn yùn” 春运 in Chinese, is a period of busy travel around Chinese New Year with extremely heavy traffic. The period usually begins 15 days before lunar New Year’s Day and lasts a total of 40 days, during which flights are often expensive and the bullet train tickets can be difficult to buy.
Experience China in Winter with Us
Visiting Yellow Mountain in Winter
Winter is an off-season in China: no tourist crowds, many available hotels, and cheaper tickets for some attractions. As for weather, go north if you love winter beauty and go south if you prefer a warm and mild climate. What if you want to experience both winter and summer in China? Travel around the country! Maybe you can get some tour ideas from our sample itineraries: