China is a very large country, with climates ranging from tropical and subtropical climates in the south to subarctic in the north and the Himalayas. The southern coast has heavy rains, with lighter rains in the west. The monsoon season lasts from July through September and affects the southern coasts. The north has warm, dry days and cool evenings while the south has cooler but more humid days.
When to fly to China
The peak domestic travel seasons, when the Chinese travel, include Chinese New Year, Labour Day, and National Day. The New Year occurs in January / February. The Labour Day and National Day dates vary, but are around May 1 and October 1. Hong Kong’s high season is October through December. Despite the heat and humidity, summer is the peak season for Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou.
Hong Kong’s off seasons are summer and winter. Conventions and trade fairs, however, book the best hotels, particularly in March and April. Winter in Beijing and Shanghai is the off season, and hotels offer substantial discounts. The best time to search for cheap flights to China is autumn when the weather is gorgeous and there are few tourists.
Getting around China
Flying is the best way to cover large distances in China. With more than 470 airports and international and regional carriers, China flights are frequent and reduced fares available. Buses are available and sometimes provide faster service than trains. Trains range in service from express with all the services to slower and no-frills.
China insider information
- A capitalist enclave in Communist China, Hong Kong is an Asian financial centre and a mix of Western and Asian cultures. Hong Kong Island is action central for finance, luxury shopping, and nightlife, with beaches just a bus ride away. Kowloon has a whirlwind of shopping choices and most of the historic sights. The New Territories has lush parks, walks, and gardens.
- An intriguing mix of new and old, Beijing is a modern capital city. Here you can visit the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, the Temple of Heaven, the Summer Palace and sections of the Great Wall of China. The nightlife is diverse with offerings ranging from opera to acrobatics, clubs, and karaoke.
- One of the largest cities in the world, Shanghai’s foremost attraction is commercial activity, but there’s lots to explore, starting with the Shanghai Museum, Bund (waterfront promenade), YuYuan Garden, and colonial neighbourhoods. A shopper’s and gourmet’s delight, Shanghai has shops everywhere and restaurants with all styles of Chinese food and international cuisines. The nightlife is alive again with performances, nightclubs, and bars.
- Once the only Chinese city foreigners were allowed to trade in, Guangzhou is the economic centre of the Pearl River Delta. A modern city, Guangzhou has more than 150 historical sites including the Nanyue King Mausoleum, Chen family temple, Guangzhou Bowuguan, Six Banyan Temple, and Shamian Island. The city is also famous for embroidery, local opera, and food.
- An imperial capital for 2,000 years, Xi’an has a fascinating history, elements of which can be seen in the Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses, Banpo Site, Goose Pagodas, Bell and Drum towers, Ming city walls, Da Qingzhensi and ancient architecture. The experience of shopping the outdoor antiques market is also popular. A prosperous city with a large student population, Xi’an has a lively nightlife.