The Best Time to Visit Shanghai

Shanghai skyline
Shanghai skyline

Shanghai by Seasons

Shanghai experiences a subtropical maritime monsoon climate, bringing mild and slightly wet weather all year round. Despite its southerly location, the city experiences the four seasons, with the mild weather of spring and autumn the most popular times to visit. It is possible to visit Shanghai at any time of year though, so to help you choose when’s best for you, we’ve summarised the seasons below:

Spring blossom in Shanghai

March to May

Spring is a lovely time to explore Shanghai: the flowers are in bloom and the temperatures hover around 15°C, making for moderate days that lend themselves well for a stroll along the Bund and a tour of the city sights. Rainfall can occur in spring, but it’s usually fairly light and over quickly, so shouldn’t disrupt your plans – perhaps use the time to look around a museum or ascend a skyscraper.

Go for…

Shanghai Peach Blossom Festival: in March, Shanghai’s Nanhui District celebrates the blossoming peach trees with dancing, music and peach-themed food, as well as, perhaps more bizarrely, pig racing.

Shanghai International Music Festival: from mid-April to mid-May, Shanghai celebrates both local and international music with plenty of concerts, radio broadcasts and awards ceremonies.

Summer in Yuyuan Garden, Shanghai

June to September

Shanghai’s summers are hot and humid, with a reasonable chance of rain, especially in August and September when typhoons can occur. Although these are rarely too serious, it’s best to bring an umbrella and a raincoat. Temperatures can hit 40°C in July, and stay there for many days, while most days alternate between bright sunshine and rain showers.

Go for…

Gardens: summer is the ideal time to visit one of Shanghai’s many gardens. Try the Yuyuan Garden or the Humble Administrator’s Garden, a day trip from the city.

Mid-Autumn Festival: Shanghai’s Mid-Autumn Festival celebrates the moon. Locals feast under moonlit skies, eat mooncakes and burn incense cups at moon altars, which look like upside down pyramids.

Autumn leaves in Shanghai

October to November

Autumn in Shanghai lasts just two months, but the moderate temperatures make this a lovely time to explore. Although the sun shines brightly, rain is more common in October, but shouldn’t disrupt your travels if you come prepared. Autumn is the best time to eat steamed hairy crab, a local delicacy.

Go for…

Autumn colours: autumn brings lovely golds and reds to Shanghai’s trees. For the best place to spot them try Nanjing Qixia Mountain or Tianping Hill in Suzhou, both of which are a day trip away from the city.

Hairy crabs: hairy crabs are at their best in the autumn, when the roe ripens to create a wonderful silky texture. Crabs from Yangcheng Lake are especially popular, costing around US$100 per kilo.

Snow in Shanghai

December to February

Winter in Shanghai can get surprisingly chilly, with sub-zero temperatures, although snow is rare. If the wind blows, days can be bitingly cold, so its best wrap up warm and head indoors. Having said that, Shanghai doesn’t get as cold as Beijing and Xi’an so winter is still an exciting time to visit, especially if you come over the festive period or Chinese New Year.

Go for…

Christmas markets: Shanghai hosts a number of Christmas markets, with the most popular being the German Christkindlmarkt, the perfect place to get into the festive spirit.

Chinese New Year: New Year, which falls in either January or February, is the most important event on Shanghai’s calendar. It is celebrated with family visits, lanterns and dancing dragons.

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