The Climate of China

China's climate can be compared to that of the United States in that there are four seasons, a primarily temperate climate, and conditions that vary widely from region to region.

Spring in West Lake
Most of China lies in the north temperate zone, characterized by a warm climate and distinctive seasons, a climate well suited for habitation. Most of China has a continental monsoon climate. From September to April the following year, the dry and cold winter monsoons blow from Siberia and the Mongolian Plateau, resulting in cold and dry winters and great differences between the temperatures of north and south China. From April to September, warm and humid summer monsoons blow from the seas in the east and south, resulting in overall high temperatures and plentiful rainfall, and little temperature difference between north and south China. In terms of temperature, the nation can be sectored from south to north into equatorial, tropical, subtropical, warm-temperate, temperate, and cold-temperate zones. Precipitation gradually declines from the southeastern to the northwestern inland area, and the average annual precipitation varies greatly from place to place. In southeastern coastal areas, it reaches over 1,500 mm, while in northwestern areas, it drops to below 200 mm
Winter in Xian
- North - Winters in the north fall between December and March and are incredibly cold. Beijing's temperature does not rise above 32 degrees Fahrenheit, although it will generally be dry and sunny. North of the Great Wall, into Inner Mongolia or Heilongjiang, it is much colder with temperatures dropping well below freezing. You will see the curious sight of sand dunes covered in glistening snow, as well as the snow-capped mountains. Summer in the north is around May to August. Beijing temperatures can occasionally rise to 100 degrees Fahrenheit or more. July and August are also the rainy months in the city. In both the north and south, most of the rainfall is in summer. Spring and autumn are the best times for visiting the north. Daytime temperatures are 70 - 85 degrees Fahrenheit and there is less rain. Although it can be quite hot during the day, night can be cool an nice. Early spring and late autumn can be frosty at night.
Summer in Hangzhou
- Central - In the Yangtze River Valley area -including Shanghai- summers are long, hot and humid. Wuhan, Chongqing and Nanjing have been dubbed -the three furnaces- by the Chinese. You can expect very high temperatures any time between April and October. Winters are short and cold, with temperatures dipping well below freezing - almost as cold as Beijing. It can also be wet and miserable at any time other than summer. While it is impossible to pinpoint an ideal time to visit, spring and autumn are probably best.
- South - In the far south, around Guangzhou, the hot, humid periods last from around April through September, and temperatures can rise to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. This is also the rainy season. Typhoons are liable to hit the southeast coast between July and September. There is a short winter from January to March, nowhere near as cold as in the north, but temperature statistics do not really indicate just how cold it can get, so bring warm clothes. Autumn and spring can be good times to visit, with daytime temperatures between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. However, it can be miserably wet and cold, with perpetual rain or drizzle, so be prepared.
Autunm in UrumqI
- Northwest - Try to avoid China's northwest at the height of summer. Industrial Urumqi is dismal at this time -although it is a good time to visit the Lake of Heaven in the mountains east of the city-, and Turpan has unbearable maximum temperatures of around 118 degrees Fahrenheit. In the winter, this region is as formidably cold as the rest of northern China. In Urumqi the average temperature in January is around minus 50 degrees Fahrenheit, with minimums down to almost minus 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures in Turpan are only slightly more favorable. Spring and Autumn are the ideal times to visit.
- North Central - Beijing, Xian: Some snow and rain during the winter. Late winter and early spring bring regular dust storms and haze.
China's climate ranges from year-round tropical heat in Hainan to Siberian conditions in the far north and classic desert weather in the far west. Clothing is usually dictated by the weather. In winter it is a good idea to wear layers of garments so as to be able to strip down when necessary. In warm weather clothing should be casual and designed for comfort.