The Best Time to Visit Beijing

The Imperial Palace in Beijing
The Imperial Palace

Beijing by Seasons

Beijing experiences a humid continental climate, with all four seasons and significant differences in weather throughout the year. That said, the city can be visited all year round – it just depends what you want to do there. To help you choose, we’ve broken the year down into its seasons:

Spring at the National Museum, Beijing

March to May

Spring brings fluctuating temperatures to Beijing, with highs of 26°C and lows of 13°C, as well as mostly dry days. Occasionally, winds from the Gobi Desert bring sandstorms to the city, usually accompanied by hot, dry weather. Spring sees Beijing’s flowers come to life and is a good time to get outdoors and hike along the Great Wall of China, where the landscape is green and bright.

Go for…

Blossom: look out for the pink blossom that arrives in Beijing in springtime. For the best chance of seeing it head to Beijing Botanical Garden or the Summer Palace, where the magnolias should be in bloom.

Dragon Boat Festival: usually held in May or June, this festival not only involves rowers racing in colourfully painted boats, but also the chance to eat zongzi, a sweet and delicious dumpling wrapped in rice.

Summer Palace, Beijing

June to August

The East Asian monsoon brings humid summers to Beijing, with hot, sunny days and occasional rain showers. Temperatures hit the thirties, so many people head outdoors to walk on the Great Wall and explore the city’s parks and gardens. To escape the heat try the mountainous areas on the outskirts of the city or hire a boat and go paddling on Kunming Lake at the Summer Palace.

Go for…

Summer Carnival: held in Shijingshan Amusement Park, this family-friendly event attracts hundreds of thousands to its fairground rides, parades and games.

Beijing Dance Festival: in July, theatres across Beijing put on various dance shows featuring both local and international artists, dance masterclasses and youth workshops.

Autumn at the Great Wall of China

September to November

Autumn is a lovely time to visit Beijing, with comfortable temperatures (in the mid to low twenties) and plenty of sunshine. Humidity decreases from the summer peak and the chances of rain are low too, making this the ideal time to explore the city sights. Better yet, the city’s trees turn various shades of orange and gold, making the parks and gardens especially photogenic.

Go for…

Autumn colours: to see the best of the autumn foliage, head to Fragrant Hill in the northwest, which hosts its own Red Autumnal Leaves Festival in mid-October.

Mid-Autumn Festival: In mid-September, celebrate with the locals at the various fairs, dragon dances, arts performances and flower displays on offer throughout the city.

Winter at the Forbidden City, Beijing

December to February

Beijing’s winters are cold and dry, sometimes with snow flurries. Temperatures plummet to well below freezing, so it’s best to wrap up warm and stick to the city’s museums and palaces or sample a warming bowl of hotpot (beware: it’s spicy!). January is the coldest month, with temperatures sometimes hitting -10°C, but it’s usually nice and sunny, making for some pretty winter scenes.

Go for…

Skiing: believe it or not you can ski in Beijing, with slopes in nearby Nanshan and Huaibei, and one inside the Bird’s Nest stadium, the principal venue for the 2008 summer Olympic Games.

Christmas: although not traditionally celebrated in China, the festive season sees Christmas trees, decorations, gifts and even Christmas carols, followed by a city-wide sale in the shopping centres.

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