China falls into freezing winter all over the country except the South and some places in the Southwest where conditions might be warm and sunny such as Hong Kong, Macau, Hainan Island, Xishuangbanna and Nanning. These warm places are comfortable winter escapes for people in colder climates.
Snow falls in North China (Harbin, Beijing, Tianjin), and it might feel even colder still in Central China (Wuhan, Changsha) because humidity is high and buildings are not as well heated.
— Beijing, Datong, Hohhot, Harbin…
For Beijing and most other places in this region, it is a low tourism month. Cold wind is biting, and snow often covers the ground. It sometimes snows, and since it is so cold, the snow remains a long time and accumulates. But there is little snow because North China is dry.
Clothing: You'll need an extra thick coat and layers of clothing to stay warm, as well as gloves and a warm hat. Wear water resistant shoes with good traction.
— Xinjiang, Qinghai, Dunhuang, Xi’an, Tibet…
December is not a good time to travel in Xinjiang because it is simply too cold with temperatures much below freezing with heavy snow and forbidding conditions.
Lhasa is also forbidding to most tourists because the temperatures are low and the oxygen level is low. But when it is sunny, it feels warm because of the high altitude. It hardly snows at all. If you can adjust to the altitude, low season travel is more economical, and you'll experience less bustle.
The main ancient sites and museums in Xi'an can still be visited since they are temperature regulated.
Clothing: Bring your winter coat, gloves, sunglasses, and hat. Dress in layers.
— Shanghai, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Huangshan…
Windy, humid, and damp weather drives people inside and most tourists to other places in December. Hotels and businesses have promotions and discounts. Shanghai usually stays above freezing.
Clothing: Coat, rain gear, and water resistant shoes.
— Changsha, Wuhan, Zhangjiajie
It is freezing and cold. It snows several times in the month, and ice and slush may be on the ground even in areas south of the Yangtze. High humidity makes it feel even colder than Beijing to the north. Buildings might not be heated.
The natural parks such as Wulingyuan in Zhangjiajie and much of the countryside looks beautiful sprinkled with snow.
Clothing: Overcoats, long underwear, and water resistant shoes with good traction.
— Guilin, Hainan, Guangzhou, Hong Kong…
In major contrast to every other big city in China, Hong Kong gets ideal weather: warm, sunny, light breezes, clear skies, and little rain. The weather is pleasant with warm days and cool nights. Sightseeing, shopping, and outdoor activities are all the more enjoyable when it is dry and sunny.
The rest of South China generally has pleasant winter with plentiful sunshine, but Guilin feels cold because of high humidity although it almost never freezes.
Clothing: A thin coat or jacket and perhaps rain gear are enough, but in Guilin, have a thicker jacket and dress in layers for comfort.
Many areas of Yunnan Province and Sichuan Province have pleasant winter weather with sunshine, but high altitude areas are frigid. December is comfortable and cool or warm during the day around the Yunnan region — Kunming, Dali, Lijiang, and Xishuangbanna. But Lijiang, Kunming, and Dali drop to near freezing at night. Tropical Xishuangbanna is always warm.
Clothing: For most of the popular places, dress in layers with a coat and head covering for the night. You'll need a heavy coat in the mountains.
Press the links to see the cities' climate and local current forecast.
|Cities||Average High||Average Low||Rain/Snow Days||Precipitation|
|Beijing||4°C (39°F)||-6°C (21°F)||2||3mm (0")|
|Xi’an||6°C (43°F)||-3°C (27°F)||3||6mm (½")|
|Shanghai||11°C (52°F)||2°C (36°)||7||34mm (1½")|
|Hong Kong||21°C (70°F)||15°C (59°F)||2||27mm (1")|
|Chengdu||11°C (52°F)||5°C (41°F)||5||5mm (½")|
|Guilin||15°C (59°F)||7°C (45°F)||9||43mm (1½")|
|Kunming||15°C (59°F)||3°C (37°F)||4||12mm (½")|
Also read: Why Travel in China's Winter Low Season
Check out The Best 6 Places to Visit in December.
You can choose between spring-like weather or winter weather in China. You can enjoy outdoor fun such as hiking in the south or skiing in the north. Pack your bag and come with us to explore the beauty of China. Below are our suggested tours for your inspiration. Modify these tours as you wish.
For more suggestions and tips see How to Plan Your First Trip to China.