January is the coldest month in China, and the main tourist themes in this month are related to ice and snow. You can experience great winter scenery and ski resorts in northern China, such as in Beijing, Harbin and Jilin. And the Hong Kong shopping season is still on!
January is not the best time to travel to Beijing due to the cold weather and possible transport stress around Chinese New Year. But the special snow-sheeted scenery of the Badaling Great Wall and the Forbidden City are worth seeing.
If you are interested in skiing, Beijing is an ideal place. There are several ski resorts around Beijing: Nanshan Ski Resort,Wanlong Ski Resort, and Jundushan Ski Resort. But our recommendations are skiing at and enjoying hot springs at Badaling, and Shijinglong Ski Resort (one of the best ski resorts in China), and having fun on the frozen lake in Xiadu Park.
Harbin, premier city of Heilongjiang province, is the northernmost and coldest large city in China. The annual Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival runs throughout January. World famous landmarks, such as the Great Wall and Disney Castle, are carved out of ice and snow and lit up with colorful lights. It's a crystalline fairyland of ice palaces, famous figures, cute animals, etc.
Rime in Jilin, the karst landscape of Guilin, the Stone Forest in Yunnan, and the Three Gorges on the Yangtze River are the "Four Amazing Natural Wonders of China". If you are a photographer looking for spectacular winter scenery, the rime wonder of Jilin City should not be missed.
The Songhua River is frozen in winter, but the temperature of the water flowing under the ice is kept at 4°C. The big difference in temperature produces a lot of mist, which turns into rime hanging on the trees along the banks of the river. The best time to appreciate the rime lasts from December to late February and the city holds its Rime and Ice Festival in mid-January every year.
Skiing is another main tourist theme in Jilin City, and the best ski resorts are Beidahu Ski Resort, Songhuahu Ski Resort, and Zhuqueshan Ski Resort. You can also discover ethnic culture in Jilin as it's one of the key cities of the Manchu minority.
If you are looking for enchanting mountain snow scenery, the Yellow Mountains is an ideal destination.
Different from many famous pictures, the Yellow Mountains in January has breathtaking views of a pure white world. The famous scene "the seas of cloud" is more likely to be seen in winter. And the sunrises and sunsets on the mountains are very splendid. You can enjoy the scenery by yourself most of the time, unlike in the overcrowded summer.
The entrance fee in winter is reduced from 230 yuan (37 USD) to 150 yuan (24 USD), and the fare for a cable car (one way) is reduced from 80 yuan (13 USD) to 65 yuan (11 USD). Some peaks or trails may be closed if deemed dangerous.
The best period to visit the rice terraces lasts from December to March (when the rice terraces are irrigated but without crops), and January is the best month. In January the weather is stable, with bright sunshine in the daytime and thick fog in the early morning. Seas of clouds on the terraces are most likely to be seen in January. And you can see the special red rice terraces due to the red duckweed in the water.
At the beginning of the twelfth Chinese month (which always falls in December or January), the local Hani people hold a "long street banquet" — always hundreds of meters long — to sacrifice totheir dragon god. You can experience unique minority customs there.
The sales promotions last from December to January due to Christmas Day and Chinese New Year. You can travel to Hong Kong with your shopping list and enjoy a bountiful and delightful shopping tour in January!
See our Hong Kong Shopping Tour for inspiration.