China Weather and Climate in January

Written by Sally Guo Updated Oct. 18, 2021

China has very cold weather in January. During this month, there is abundant snowfall in North China, including Beijing, Harbin, Shenyang, and Jilin. In contrast, South China enjoys a higher temperature than that of North China, with the temperature ranging from 6 to 12 ºC in Guilin of Guangxi Province. In central China, the weather is not so comfortable due to the dampness.

Average January temperatures and rainfall in China

  Highest (ºC) Lowest (ºC) Rainfall (mm)
Beijing 2 -8 3
Shanghai 8 1 51
Chengdu 9 3 8
Hangzhou 8 2 73
Kunming 15 2 16
Xi’an 4 -4 7
Guangzhou 18 10 41
Guilin 12 5 53
Hong Kong 19 14 25

Winter in China begins in January and ends in March. Average temperatures during January range from -5° C to 5 ° C. It’s generally true that during January, China experiences its most severe winter weather. You may be unable to interpret the above figures, but no worries; scroll down now and you’ll have a better idea of what they mean!

Weather in Northern China

In northern China, snowfalls in some cities such as Harbin, Hohhot, Beijing, and Tianjin, but relatively speaking it’s still not much snow, due to the dry weather. It’s normally cold during the day and freezing at nighttime. If you are fond of snow activities such as skiing, traveling to northern and northeastern China in January is a good idea. The ice-snow festival is held annually in Harbin during January.

Places you should visit: Beijing (Great Wall of China, Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Tiananmen Square), Harbin, Hohhot, Shijiazhuang

Forbidden City in Winter
Forbidden City in Winter

Weather in Southern China

Southern China enjoys higher temperatures than those up north. Hence, if you want to avoid the extreme cold and prefer admiring scenery to take part in outdoor activities during the cold winter, southern China would be better for you. Beware, however, that weather is still very changeable from day tonight.

Average temperatures: range from 5 to 12 ºC

Places you should visit: Hong Kong, Guilin, Hainan Island, Sanya, Beihai, Kunming, Guangzhou, Macau

Li River in Winter
Li River in Winter

Weather in Eastern China

You’ll notice that tourist attractions are not so crowded, even during public holidays, if you happen to travel in eastern China at this time of year. It’s windy, humid, and damp in January, hence unsuitable for traveling.

Places you should visit: Shanghai (central-eastern China), Suzhou, Huangshan, Xiamen, Nanjing

Weather in Western China

Winter in the west of China is relatively harsh. Temperatures much below freezing along with heavy snow make it unsuitable for traveling. It’s not recommended to travel around the west of China during winter, but if you prefer a more challenging time, the main ancient sites and museums in Xi’an can still be visited.

Places you should visit: Lhasa, Tibet, Xi’an (northwest China), Yunnan (southwest China)

Weather in Central China

The weather in central China is chilling and might be a little too damp for traveling.

Average temperature: 0℃

Should visit: Yangtze River

What to Expect When Visit China in January?

While visiting China in January, the top destinations that worth touring are mainly the cities either abounding with snowfall or having relatively comfortable weather. Although January is known as the coldest of all months, it doesn’t mean that you can’t find a getaway city and spend a winter-free holiday there.

If you are fond of the exciting snow activities, you can travel to North and Northeast China where the ice-snow festivals are held during this month annually. However, if you are afraid of the cold and prefer to enjoy the relatively warm weather, you can visit South China, such as Guilin, Kunming, and Hainan Island.

ski in winter
Ski in Winter

January Packing Suggestion

North: It’s very cold even during the day, with the temperature below 0 ºC. It is freezing during the night. Thus, you need to bring warm clothes with you, such as down jackets, cotton wadded jackets, cotton-padded shoes, and cotton mufflers.

Central: Tough it’s not that freezing, sweaters, and cotton wadded jackets are necessary, due to the chilly weather. The temperature is around 0℃ (32F). If you are afraid of cold, a down jacket is needed.

South: It’s relatively warm than that of North and Central China. However, woolen sweaters and trousers and warm coats are needed.

Beware of Some Conditions during a January Visit

1. It is so cold and dry in North China, with bone-chilling winds. It’s chilly and damp in Central China.

2. Tourists need to bring very warm clothes with them, which is a little bit inconvenient for them.

Top Travel Destinations in January


Harbin is deservedly the winter paradise for tourists, due to its snow and ice landscape. Tourists can appreciate the Ice Lantern Exhibition, admire Snow Sculpture on the Sun Island, Watch Winter Swimming Performance, and take part in Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival. The most attractive festival, Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival, is officially opened on January 5 every year and lasts until February 28, consisting of 5 parts and over 100 activities. There are also a number of snow resorts welcoming you in January, such as Yabuli Ski Resort, Grand World of Ice and Snow, Sun Island Scenic Area, and Moon Bay Ski Resort. Thus, if you don’t fear the cold and love the world of snow, Harbin is a good choice.


Sanya is celebrated as "the oriental Hawaii” and "the natural oxygen bar", becoming a famous tourist resort for its beautiful beaches, warm sunshine, and convenient weather condition. The weather in January in Sanya is very pleasant with no frost or snow. Various flowers are in full bloom all year round. For years, Sanya has been a preferred resort for people living in North and Central China to keep away from the chilly winter. These years, an increasing number of tourists at home and abroad come to Sanya to spend their winter holiday.

Sanya in Winter
Sanya in Winter


Dali is not that cold in January like other cities of China, with an average temperature of 9 ºC. It is a great place to keep away from the hustle and bustle of the cities. People in Dali seem to live in an ideologically isolated world and they, keeping their traditional way of lifestyle. Many tourists love to stay in Dali's ancient town to explore the small alleys and enjoy cheap beer, pizzas, and cappuccinos.


As the capital city of China, Beijing not only boasts places of historic interest and scenic beauty but also abounds with a number of ski resorts suitable for winter activities, such as Badaling Ski Resort, Huaibei Ski Resort, Jindinghu Ski Resort, Jundushan Ski Resort, Lingshan Ski Resort, Nanshan Ski Resort, Pinggu Ski Resort, Shijinglong Ski Resort, Yunju Ski Resort, and Xueshijie Ski Resort.

Huangshan City

Huangshan City is well-known for its famous mountain, Mt. Huang (Yellow Mountain). Mt. Huang becomes famous for its four supreme sights, including strange pines, grotesque rocks, the sea of clouds, and hot springs. Huangshan has beautiful scenery in every season. However, the best time to visit Mt. Huang is in January, due to its miraculous sight of the sea of clouds. Besides, the hot springs of Mt. Huang can help tourists to ease their tiredness and relax, enjoying a comfortable winter vacation. Meanwhile, it’s also the best time to watch the sunrise in January on Mt. Huang of Huangshan City.

Continue to read: The Best Time to Go to China

China Weather by Month

Create My Trip

Need Help?

Request a custom itinerary today and get one step closer to your personalized trip

Create Your Trip