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Top 7 Places to Visit in January in China

Written by Chris QuanUpdated Oct. 30, 2023

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 Harbin, Beijing, and Changbaishan. The official opening ceremony of the annual Harbin Ice and Snow Festival is on January 5th and the celebration will last till late February of the next year.

Yunnan and Sanya becomes a favorite for people who prefer a warm winter holiday.

Chinese New Year 2024 falls on February 10th. Travel with your family to immerse in the traditional Chinese New Year celebrations.

Best Places to Visit in January in China

1. Harbin — Enchantment at Minus 20 °C

Harbin Ice and Snow WorldHarbin Ice and Snow World

Harbin, located in the northeast of China, is the city for the annual Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival runs throughout January. It's a crystalline fairyland of ice palaces, famous figures, cute animals, etc.

World famous landmarks, such as the Great Wall and Disney Castle, are carved out of ice and snow and lit up with colorful lights.

Skiing is another popular activity. Harbin has one of China's best ski resorts called Yabuli Ski Resort. Staying 3 nights in the Club Med Yabuli to enjoy a all-inclusive skiing holiday with your family.

Recommended winter tours including Harbin:

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2. Beijing — Traditional Temple Fairs of Chinese New Year

The special silence of winter with fewer tourists in Beijing will make your visits to historical sites (Forbidden City, Great Wall, Summer Palace, etc.) much more peaceful and profound.

Chinese New Year 2024 falls on February 10th. Many people go to Beijing's traditional temple fairs during the Spring Festival (Chinese New Year) for ritual praying, entertainment, snacks, and buying crafts. They are a great opportunity to experience local culture and traditions. (Check out Beijing's Top Temple Fairs)

Recommended Beijing Tours:

3. Jilin & Mt. Changbaishan — Rime Wonder and Skiing

Jilin RimeJilin Rime
  • Average January temperatures: -24°C–2°C (-11°F–36°F)

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 like photography and look 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 Changbai Mountain Resort, Beidahu Ski Resort, Songhuahu Ski Resort, and Zhuqueshan Ski Resort.

Recommended Winter Tours:

4. Yunnan (Yuanyang Rice Terraces, Dali, Lijiang, Xishuangbanna)

Yuanyang Rice TerracesYuanyang Rice Terraces

With clear skies prevailing above Erhai Lake in Dali, warm winter sunshine in the ancient town of Lijiang, the pristine and holy land of Shangri-La, and exotic tropical rainforest in Xishuangbanna, Yunnan has become a top destination for China expats, especially family groups.

The Yuanyang Rice Terraces in Kunming is one of China's five most beautiful rice terraces. It is recommended for magnificent natural scenery and mild winters. 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.

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 to their dragon god. You can experience unique minority customs there.

Recommended Yunnan tours for winter:

5. Chengdu — Glacier, Hot Pot, and Pandas

Chengdu Bipenggou ValleyChengdu Bipenggou Valley

Getting close to pandas will be an unforgettable moment in your winter holidays.

Besides meeting the lovely Giant Pandas, you can taste real Sichuan food and learn how to cook authentic Sichuan cuisine. The hot and spicy food will ward off the cold.

You can also enjoy the fun of skiing in beautiful Bipenggou National Park (3½ hours away by car), and soak in a natural mineral hot spring in a snowy wonderland.

In addition, Mount Emei provides beautiful snowy scenery in winter with sweeping cliffs, high-reaching peaks, gushing waterfalls, gurgling springs, and towering ancient trees.

Recommended Chengdu Tours

6. Xiamen — Explore Mulan's Hometown

Fujian TulouTulou in Xiamen

Relatively mild temperatures in January compared to China's northern cities make Xiamen a good place to visit, though it is not as warm as Sanya (below). Although a popular destination, there aren't many tourists in Xiamen in January. You will have more space and time to enjoy your trip to the full.

Feel the artistic temperament of uncrowded Gulangyu Island, and pay a visit to the Fujian Tulou (earthen castles) — Mulan's movie home, which is the traditional architectural style of Hakka people in the Fujian area.

Recommended Xiamen Tours

7. Sanya — Sunny Beach Time


Lying in the tropics, Sanya's "winters" feature sun, blue sea, clear skies, soft sand, and warm weather.

There, you can sunbathe on a private beach, do some water activities such as surfing, snorkeling, swimming, and motorboat riding, and enjoy a rainforest hot spring at nightfall while you listen to the birds' evening chorus.

Recommended Sanya Tours

Plan Your Winter Holiday with Us

For travelers who prefer snow scenery and activities, see our most recommended customizable ice and snow tours:

For those who'd prefer a warm winter escape, see our top recommended customizable warm winter tours:

Or contact us if you have any questions or requirements to design a tour.

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