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7 Best Places to Visit in Winter in China

Hesitate to plan your winter vacation to China in 2023? Worry about the cold weather everywhere and feel nothing to do when in outdoor?

Winter is officially from December to February in China. For some travelers, the winter is short, dark and boring. But, this is not the real thing in China. China is vast enough making you step into a white snow paradise with a temperature as low as -24°C in the North China, or taking you have fun in the tropical zone with a temperate as mild as 27°C in the South China. If you do not want both extreme weather, come to the high altitude cities in Southwest or coastal cities in Southeast China. So, why not try some fun activities with your family this winter?

  • ★ Enjoy winter festivals - Harbin Ice and Snow Festival, traditional Chinese Spring Festival...
  • ★ Appreciate beautiful scenery - China snow town scenery, snow sculptures, rice terraces, Hakka earth buildings, tropical seaside scenery.
  • ★ Skiing - you can try different kinds of activities in Yabuli Ski Resort or Xiling Snow Mountain.
  • ★ Eat suitable food - try hotpot in winter to keep your body warm and other delicious Chinese food to satisfy your taste buds.

During this low season with fewer crowds and lower prices, you can still visit the classic, most popular destinations in China, like Beijing, Xian, Shanghai, Chengdu, Guilin, Hong Kong, Zhangjiajie… Just check the 10 Best Places to Visit in Winter which are also the best winter destinations selected by our past customers that you can get inspired and plan an enjoyable China winter vacation!

Best Winter Destinaitons in China

1 Harbin - Get into Ice and Snow World & Ski Paradise for Snow Fun to the Fullest

  • Type: Snow, Historic & Cultural Site;
  • Recommended Trip Length: 3~5 days;

Winter Activities in & around Harbin:

1. Visit Ice and Snow World with excitement to attend 19th Harbin Ice and Snow World, enter into snow world with different themes to admire gorgeous ice snow sculptures, watch ice & snow performance, or take part in some activities on the ice.

2. Come to Sun Island and enjoy the featured Russian architectures capped with snow, attend 30th Harbin International Snow Sculpture Art Exposition in China to see lots of snow sculptures.

3. Have great fun in the largest ski resort in China - Yabuli Ski Resort and enjoy different kinds of thrilling activities - skiing, snow tubing, snowmobiling… Prefer a winter holiday? Yabuli Club Med's all-inclusive winter holiday is strongly recommended!

4. Add one or two days to extend to China Snow Town which is about 270 kilometers away from Harbin where you can fully immerse yourselves in the fairytale world and Dream Home.

Harbin, located in the northeast of China in Heilongjiang Province, is reputed as “Little Paris in the Orient” and “Moscow in the Orient”. Having the most bitterly cold winters among major Chinese cities with average temperatures as low as -13°C in the daytime and -24°C in the evening, Harbin is heralded as the “Ice City” and notable for the amazing ice sculpture festival in the winter.

The official opening date of Harbin Ice and Snow Festival will be on January 5th of every year, on which a grand opening ceremony will be held. But, many related venues and activities are usually start in the late of December (December 21th or later), and will not close until the end of February. To know the detailed timetable of the Ice and Snow Festival of 2023, please check our “Having Fun on the Harbin Ice and Snow Festival”.
Tips for Traveling:
1. The weather is extremely cold in Harbin and around. Take enough cold-proof clothing, warm shoes, wind cap, and gloves with you. And sunglasses, sun blocking scream, antifreeze, high-calorie snacks are also needed.
2. If you like photography, bring the cold-proofing and warm your camera.

2 Yunnan - Enjoy Nature Beauty and Ethnic Diversity Beyond Time Limit

  • Type: Gentle Sunshine on High Altitude, Ethnic Culture Experience;
  • Recommended Trip Length:  5~8 days;

    Where to Go in Yunnan during Winter Time:

    1. Kunming is called the Eternal Spring City of China, with average temperature in winter around 15 ℃. It is usually chosen as the first destination when touring Yunnan. It will be very enjoyable to see flocks of black-headed gulls flying over the Green Lake or Dian Lake which can only be viewed during winter days. As well, don’t miss the exploration in the 270 million year-old Stone Forest with a notable set of limestone formations.

    2. Just like Kunming, Dali has a mild winter temperature around 15 ℃. Getting into the hometown of Bai ethnic people, you can relax a lot between the Cangshan Mountain and Erhai Lake and experience Three-Course tea ceremony of Bai and even try tie-dye in Zhoucheng.

    3. Lijiang is so famous for its UNESCO Lijiang Ancient Town and it is the perfect place to absorb Naxi ethnic culture. The average winter temperature here is about 5 ℃-10 ℃. The cobbled lanes, traditional timber houses, and local market squares of Lijiang will make you feel as though you’ve stepped back in time. If you want to see the glacier, come to Jade Dragon Snow Mountain to ascend 4680 meters for glacier views.

    4. Winter is the best time to come to Yuanyang. It is famous for its spectacular rice terrace which is the core of Honghe Hani Rice Terrace listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Yuanyang Rice Terraces not only belongs to the Top of Top rice terrace in China, but also ranks as one of the Top 3 rice terraces in the world. The best time to come to Yuanyang for the rice terrace irrigated with water is from late November to early April.

    5. Shangri-La is located in the northwest of Yunnan and the weather is cold in winter around -4℃-10 ℃. If you can bear the coldness, you can spend one or two days on the idyllic land with Lost Horizon scenery described by James Hilton. If you want to capture the incredible scene of golden sunrise shining upon the dramatic snow-capped peaks of Meili Snow Mountain, just come in winter time.
     

Yunnan is located in the Southwest China, with subtropical latitude combined with high altitude, making Yunnan moderate climate all year round. Winters are mild in most of the destinations, like Kunming, Dali and Lijiang, with lows rarely dropping below freezing and sunny winter days are often. With incredible Stone Forest, mysterious rice terraces, snow-capped peaks, primitive forests, beautiful lakes and magnificent gorges, Yunnan has excellent natural beauty and diverse landscape in winter time. Known for its large number of ethnic minorities (home to 25 ethnic groups), Yunnan is also the unique place where you can experience ethnic cultures other than that of the dominant Han Chinese. Most of travelers put Yunnan as the No.1 winter destination in China in their bucket list.

3 Sichuan - Experience “Fire & Ice” on the Land of Abundance

  • Type: Pandas, Food, Snow, Historic & Cultural Site, Nature
  • Recommended Attractions: Chengdu Panda Base, Jinli Old Street, Leshan Giant Buddha, Mount Emei, Xiling Snow Mountain, Jiuzhai Valley, Dujiangyan Irrigation System, Mount Qingcheng, Hailuogou Glacier Park, etc.
  • Recommended Trip Length: 2~7 days

Sichuan, called the Land of Abundance, is a fascinating province in the west China. The capital city of Sichuan is Chengdu, which is favored by numerous travelers all the year round. The average temperature in winter here is around 5℃-11 ℃. It is mild and comfortable to come. “Giant Panda” and “Sichuan Cuisine” are the two most important tourism cards of Sichuan. In winter days, you should not miss the chance to try the “HOT POT” that the spicy flavor will dispel the coldness and chill in the winter. Of course, get to Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding to see over 100 giant pandas and baby pandas or reach Dujiangyan Panda Base to do the full day volunteering program. The friendless and smile of the cute pandas will warm your heart in winter time, leaving you once-in-a-lifetime memory in Chengdu.

No matter you want to enjoy a short break in Chengdu, or extend to the impressive sites in its west, north or south, you are spoiled with many choices.

Winter Activities in Sichuan:

1. Traveling out of Chengdu, the most popular choice is getting to its south to see Leshan Giant Buddha, the largest stone carved Buddha in the world and Mount Emei which site has changed its tune to the purified white, especially spots over the altitude of 1300 meters. Get atop of Mount Emei for snow-capped Golden Summit and view the sea of clouds that you can most possibly see it.

2. With about 2.5 hours’ driving from Chengdu, you can get to a ski paradise. Xiling Snow Mountain is regarded as the largest ski resort in China, providing more than 20 different kinds of activities in ski field. You can try skiing, zorb, snow cubing, snowmobiling, bounce-flying…travelers can completely enjoy the excitement of ski sports.

3. Traveling a little further, you can take flight or car to Jiuzhai Valley and Huanglong National Park. During the winter season, they are less touristy and full of a poetic atmosphere with all previous colors turning into silver. Mountains and trees are covered by snow and waterfalls become a huge natural ice sculpture. It is the true ice and snow fairy tale world.

4. If you want to see the glacier and its grandness, the top choice is to come to Hailuogou Glacier Park. There are more sunny days after snowing and air is fresher and the pure snow white ice glacier far away can be admired clearly. Pay attention it is cold in Jiuzhaigou and Western Sichuan and the average temperature can fall down from 3.9℃ to - 12℃.

5. For travelers who just want one day break away from Chengdu, it is nice to visit Dujiangyan Irrigation System and Mount Qingcheng for some cultural experience.

  • ❉ Tips for Traveling:
    1. Altitude Sickness: Hailuogou Glacier Park in Sichuan belongs to the high altitude localities and the visiting area is between 1,940-3,600 meters above sea level; and the Huanglong National Park ranges from 1700-5588 meters, so to avoid or relieve altitude sickness, you need to sleep well, drink enough water, have enough fruits and vegetables, and keep a calm mood to release your body, which is also helpful. Strenuous exercise and alcoholic drinks are better to avoid.
    2. What to Wear: Temperatures in Hailuogou Glacier Park and Jiuzhaigou Valley are usually lower than most cities in Sichuan, especially Chengdu, so you are highly suggested to pack you thick sweaters, thick coats, waterproof clothes, scarves, gloves and antiskid hiking shoes in winter season. Sun block, sunglasses, hats, lip balm, etc. are recommended for protect your skin from UV rays. And rain gear is suggested for there sometimes rain.

4 Huangshan - Come for the Five Wonders of Yellow Mountain in the Lovely Winter

  • Type: Geologic Formations, Nature & Parks
  • Recommended Trip Length: 3~4 days
  • ❉ Tips for Traveling:
    Bright Summit (光明顶), Beginning to Believe Peak (始信峰), Lion Peak (狮子峰) and Turtle Peak (鳌鱼峰) and many other sites remains open. However, snow and ice makes hiking paths in high-elevated sections quite slippery, dangerous for tourists. For safety consideration, each year, spots including the West Sea (Xihai) Grand Canyon and Lotus Peak will be closed during cold winter (usually from December to March next year) and reopen in late March or early April in next spring.

Yellow Mountain in Anhui Province, praised as the loveliest mountain in China, has attracted millions of travelers to enjoy its breathtaking Magical Fiver Wonders - “Odd-shaped Pines, Spectacular Rocky Peaks, Sea of Clouds, Hot Spring and Winter Snow”. With an average temperature ranging from -5℃ to 5℃, winter time of Yellow Mountain is the coldest season with freezing temperature, misty and cloudy weather and heavily snows and least rainfall. Winter snow in the main theme from early December to late February, the whole mountain is truly a snow and ice wonderland. Bring your camera to record the beautiful rimes hanging on the leaves and it would be dazzling when the sun comes out. Besides, the chance to see Sea of Clouds is nearly 95%. After snows, it often appears large-scale of clouds moving among valleys and peaks. After the strenuous hiking during winter, you can enjoy a hot spring. The hot spring resort is located close to Mercy Light Pavilion. If you have one more day, it will be great to combine your Huangshan trip with Xidi and Hongchuan Ancient Villages visiting. The snow-capped old villages will be very impressive, shining its antiquity and tranquility in clear winter days.

5 Guilin - Relax to Enjoy Karst Scenery & Ethnic Culture in Winter Season

Guilin is often regarded as the relaxing resort for most travelers who can try different kinds of activities to enjoy the picturesque karst landscape. There is saying going “East or West, Guilin Landscape is the Best”. The scenery in winter is also attractive in Guilin. The average temperature in winter time is around 8℃ to 16℃, not so cold.

  • Type: Cruise, Nature, Ethnic Culture
  • Recommended Trip Length: 3~4 days

Best Things to Do in Winter in Guilin:

The most classic way is taking the Li River cruise sailing leisurely from Guilin downtown area to Yangshuo County with endless karst landscape passing by. With a little chilly breeze, you will encounter the marvelous scene of the Nine-house Fresco, famous lively image on the back of 20 RMB note at the Yellow Cloth Shoal. After 4-hour cruising, you will arrive in Yangshuo where you can relax yourselves with lots of exciting outdoor activities in its countryside. Slow down your pace and mind to indulge in the visiting no matter which style you choose - walking, hiking, cycling, bamboo rafting or kayaking, you will enjoy yourselves to the fullest. The must-see sites include West Street, Yulong River, Moon Hill and Big Banyan Tree.

For travelers who are interested in exploring around Longji Rice Terrace, you can add one day to extend to Longsheng County in the north of Guilin City. Winter is not the best time to see the rice terrace scenery, but you can enjoy the village life and ethnic minority culture here. You will get to know the traditional life of Yao and Zhuang people, see their unique and colorful clothing, listen to the melodious folk music, watch the playful dances and observe the women weaving and embroidering. It will be good cultural experience in winter days.

6 Beijing - Taste Profound Imperial History in Frozen Winter Days

Winter in Beijing is long and cold, with the highest and lowest average temperatures being 5 °C and -5°C from December to February. With a history over 3000 years, Beijing has witnessed the prosperity and decline of several dynasties, generations of Chinese emperors and left us a long-standing and profound Chinese culture. Visiting the capital of China in snow-capped winter days will be quite special for you. The frozen imperial history will be melt and presented vividly after your coming.

  • Type: Historical & Cultural Sites
  • Recommended Trip Length: 3~4 days

Winter Activities in Beijing:

Coming Beijing during winter, you should not miss the Classic attractions, such as Forbidden City, Great Wall, Summer Palace, Temple of Heaven and Hutongs. White snow and golden glazed tiles in the backdrop of the red walls of Forbidden City make you feel like you are walking in the oil paintings with bright colors and royal atmosphere. Visiting the Great Wall of China in Winter means you are much more likely to have a more pleasant and less crowded experience than during peak season. Summer Palace is so cool and the Kunming Lake will be frozen when the temperature falls down to zero. It becomes a different imperial place where you come not for escaping heat but enjoying winter scenery. Taking a rickshaw shutting among the old Hutongs will give you another feeling - very warm in cold weather to feel the local life. Besides the classic sites, you can check out the Ice Lantern Festival at Longqing Gorge that more than 400 ice sculptures are displayed in the gorge - portraying temples, dragons, and ice castles, the sculptures are truly incredible. More indoor and outdoor activities in winter are waiting for you.

7 Xian - Have A Bite of Culture in the Most Ancient City of China

  • Type: Historical & Ancient Sites
  • Recommended Trip Length: 2~3 days

Xian, located in North China in Shaanxi Province, should be listed as the top winter destination in China for it is a historical city that can be visited all the year round without time restrictions. Xian, the capital of 13 ancient China dynasties with a history over 5000 years, is undisputed the perfect representation of Chinese dynastic history and culture.

The average temperature in winter is around 0°C, an average high temperature of 5°C and an average low temperature of -4°C. The visiting in Xian in winter will not affect your experience at all. You can go to see the Terracotta Warriors which is an indoor site and reputed as one of the greatest archaeological finds in the twentieth century and the eighth wonder of the world. Compared with summer heat, it will be more enjoyable to ride a bike on the Ancient City Wall in winter to catch the panoramic view of the ancient city. To warm yourselves, you can treat yourselves with some delicious warm food or snacks on Muslim Quarter or have a special dumping dinner with 44 types. As for the nearby Mount Hua, it is not recommended to climb in winter cold days for it is too dangerous.

How to Plan a China Winter Tour

To plan a China winter tour is based on what kind of weather, scenery, types of destinations, etc. you like!

For more people first been to China in winter, they prefer to travel to the top classic and popular winter destinations to save more in one go during the relatively low season, such as Beijing (2-4 days), Shanghai (2-4 days), Xian (2-3 days), Guilin (3-5 days), Chengdu, (1-3 days), Yangtze River Cruise (4-5 days), Hangzhou (2-4 days), Suzhou (2-3 days), etc.

For visitors want to enjoy a snow winter tour, you can plan to visit Harbin to see the Ice and Snow Festival in 2-3 days. 2-4 more days to the nearby Yabuli Ski Resorts, China Snow Town and Wusong Island in Jilin are also popular to see snow scenery and play with snow! And a lot of visitors prefer travel from Beijing after the discovery of winter snowy Great Wall. Moreover, you can also spend 3-4 days to Huangshan for snowy Yellow Mountain, 1-2 days to snowy Mount Emei, 1-2 days to Xiling Snow Mountain for skiing fun, etc.

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