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China Weather in May

The weather in May is pleasant with relatively plentiful sunshine and warm temperatures. The weather is good in most of China. There is a stretch of warm, relatively dry weather before the heat and rains of summer set in. Along with September and October, May is one of the best times for traveling and sightseeing in China.

North and Northeast China

— Beijing, Datong, Hohhot, Harbin…

beijing botanical gardenThe Great Wall in May

In North China, spring is at its best. Blue sky may be seen in cities such as Beijing that rarely have blue sky in the rest of the year. May is also one of the best times to visit the Great Wall.

When trees and plants turn green, the wall wanders among lush vegetation. The summer crowds have not yet arrived, so you may have time to have the wall to yourself in mid May.

West China

— Xinjiang, Qinghai, Dunhuang, Xi’an, Tibet…

May is one of the best months for visiting Xinjiang since it is warmer, but not yet in the summer heat. It might be windy and cold in the Gansu corridor, so bring a warm coat.

Likewise, Lhasa has relatively good weather. It is warm and sunny weather with low rainfall. The flowers bloom and the trees are green.

East China

— Shanghai, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Huangshan…

May in one of Suzhou's famed gardensOne of Suzhou's famed gardens in May

Expect high humidity but pleasant warm weather with relatively low rainfall before the summer monsoon season that starts in June. Shanghai experiences an average high in May of about 24°C (75°F).

South China

— Guilin, Guangzhou, Hong Kong…

South China is warm and humid and has heavy monsoon rainfall. In Hong Kong in May, the average high temperature is about 29°C (84°F), with humidity to match. Typhoon season starts in May in Hong Kong.

Central and Southwest China

— Chengdu, Chongqing, Zhangjiajie, Kunming, Kaili…

There is warm and pleasant temperatures in the cities, and it is one of the better months for touring since there is relatively low rainfall. Heavy rains summer rains begin in June. Chengdu is often foggy and drizzly. Summer clothes such as T-shirts may be comfortable some days, but also bring a light coat or a sweater for cool weather and an umbrella.

Average May Weather Data for Major Tourist Cities

CitiesAverage HighAverage LowRainy DaysPrecipitation
Beijing26°C (79°F)14°C (57°F)6
34mm (1")
Xi’an26°C (79°F)14°C (57°F)9
60mm (2")
Shanghai24°C (75°F)16°C (61°F)10
85mm (3")
Hangzhou26°C (79°F)17°C (63°F)15147mm (6")
Chengdu26°C (79°F)17°C (63°F)15107mm (4")
Guiiln27°C (81°F)20°C (68°F)19
353mm (14")
Kunming24°C (75°F)14°C (57°F)1297mm (4")

Why Visit China in May?

hong villageThere is beautiful spring scenery at Hong Village, near the Yellow Mountains, Huangshan Prefecture

Pleasant warm weather: The weather is warm and is pleasant for traveling across most of the country, but it isn't as hot as in mid summer.

Low rainfall: One of the rewards of traveling in China during this month is the relatively low rainfall before the rainier and hot summer weather across most of China.

Avoid peak travel dates: The first week of May is a busy peak travel week for China's May Day holiday.

Be Aware of Big Holiday Crowds in May and Southern Monsoon Rains

Be aware that the last days of April mark the start of the heavy travel and tourism season in China. China's May Day (May 1) holidays are when many Chinese travel and enjoy visiting the attractions and go out of doors. The heavy crowds subside after the first week.

Southern China experiences monsoon weather in May with occasional typhoons or tropical storms hitting the coastal regions. As shown in the chart, Guilin gets more than a 1/3 of a meter (14") of rain on average, and it rains most of the days of the month. Hong Kong on the southeast coast gets 317 mm of rain. Since it is warm, most people find the rains refreshing, and it is not an issue with proper rain gear.

Best May Destinations

Li River in GuilinThe Li River in the bright May sunshine

May is a pleasant time for traveling, seeing the sights, and hiking across most of China. South China (Huangshan, Guilin, Hangzhou) offers beautiful scenery. But you may meet rainy days in southern China. Other recommendations include:

  • Beijing Great Wall: Appreciate good touring weather to see the wall.
  • Xi’an: Visit historical sites and bike on the Xi’an Ancient Wall.
  • Zhangjiajie: See the rock spires amid spring scenery.

Read more about best places to visit in May.

Packing Suggestions for May

  • The Northeast (Harbin): a coat or thick jacket, hat, gloves
  • North & Central (Beijing, Xi’an): jacket or a sweater
  • The East (Shanghai): T-shirts, jacket, sweater, umbrella
  • The South (Guilin, Hong Kong): T-shirts, shorts, light water resistant jacket, umbrella
  • The Northwest and Tibet (Dunhuang, Lhasa): coat, sweater, hat, gloves, sunglasses

Festivals Make May More Colorful

The mirror-like Longji Terraces in springThe mirror-like Longji Terraces in spring

Longji Terraces Plowing Festival: The local farmers hold an annual festival in the beautiful terraced countryside of Longji that is about 110 km from Guilin. It is an excellent place for acountryside hike. It is a great time for photography. Read more about the Longji Plowing Festival.

Hong Kong Dragon Boat Races: Hong Kongers love racing dragon boats, and often the races are at the end of May. Read more about the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival.

There are many festivals and events in May. See China Festivals in May.

Most Popular China Tours for May

An outdoor activity is the main theme of May travel in China. Pack your bag and come with us to explore the beauty of China. Below are our suggested tours for your inspiration, and you can modify these as you wish.

For more suggestions and tips for your China trip, please see How to Plan Your First Trip to China for inspiration.

Weather and Things to Do in China's Cities in May