Top 6 Winter Destinations in China

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

Fireworks 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, the 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, the racecourse
  • Experience tour with us: Essence of Hong Kong Tour

2. Beijing – Celebrating Chinese New Year with Hutong People

Making Dumplings with Locals

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 the 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: A Half Day Hutong Pedicab Tour

3. Harbin – International Ice and Snow Festival

Harbin 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 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 with lights, will be extremely amazing and glorious. It’s chilly and 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

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, and 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

Yellow Mountain in Winter

The Yellow Mountain, or Mt. Huangshan, is a popular destination all 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 on 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: the 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

Hainan Island

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

Pay Attention to Spring Rush

The Spring Festival Travel Season, or Spring Rush, also referred to as “chūn yùn” 春运 in Chinese, is a period of busy travel around the 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

Visiting Yellow Mountain in Winter

Winter is off-season in China: no tourist crowds, many available hotels, and cheaper tickets for some attractions. As for the 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:

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