Top 10 China tours 2024/2025 for first visits and returns: embark on a lifetime experience. Learn more

How to Plan a Winter Trip to China: Places to Go, Costs, Crowds

Winter (December to February) is mostly a cost-effective and less-crowded time to explore China. China has multiple winter attractions/activities:

In this guide, we'll provide you with tips on how to plan the best winter trip to China for you.

Content Preview

The Top 6 China Winter Destinations

Below is a list of China's prime winter destinations, from snow-covered landscapes to splendid winter festivals and activities.

1. Beijing — the Great Wall, Skiing, Chinese New Year Celebrations

Beijing Greatwall Winter Scenery The Great Wall of China covered in snow

In Beijing's winter, you can enjoy climbing the Great Wall and viewing its mountainous winter landscape in peace without the crowds.

It is also a good time to see how Chinese people celebrate Chinese New Year. You can experience the festival atmosphere, enjoy interesting outdoor activities, and taste the best local food. See a 6-Day Beijing Chinese New Year Tour.

If you want to ski, we can take you to an Olympic Winter Games venue to enjoy the fun and world-class facilities. Read more on 6-Day Beijing Winter Tour with Skiing in a Winter Olympics Venue.

2. Harbin — Ice and Snow Festival, Skiing

If you want to see stunning snow scenery and have a fun/romantic Christmas or New Year with your children or your significant other, then don't miss the Ice and Snow Festival in Harbin.

The Ice and Snow Festival is undoubtedly Harbin's most famous attraction in winter. The festival will last for around 2 months from late December to February. During the festival, Harbin is changed into a world of ice sculptures.

Yabuli Ski Resort, not far from Harbin, is one of the best in China. If you especially like snow scenery, then you could go on an extended tour to Changbai Mountain, where you can see the beautiful rime and try rafting on a hot spring river.

3. Huangshan — Snowy Mountains, Hot Spring

Huangshan in winterSnow scenery in Huangshan

The Yellow Mountains (Huangshan) is one of the most famous mountain areas in China. Its snow-capped mountains and rime-covered trees are the perfect winter scene. If you love nature and photography, then Huangshan is a great destination for a winter trip.

A cozy hot spring experience could be a treat in winter, especially after climbing the mountain. There is a wonderful hot spring at the foot of the Yellow Mountains where you can get relaxed and refreshed.

4. Chengdu — Pandas, Hot Pot, Skiing

Bipenggou National ParkBipenggou in winter

You shouldn't miss Chengdu if you love pandas. In winter, you can still see active pandas playing in their playground as they're not at all "afraid" of cold.

If you want to get closer to them and their habitat, we recommend our one-day panda volunteer program where you can clean the glass of their enclosures, watch them being fed, and make their food.

If you are a foodie, having a hot pot on a cold winter day is definitely a great experience.

Bipenggou National Park, a hidden winter resort near Chengdu, is recommended if you want to see snowy scenery, enjoy skiing, and soak in hot springs.

5. Xi'an — The Terracotta Warriors

The Terracotta Warriors in XianThe Terracotta Warriors

No matter what the season, Xi'an is a must for first-time visitors to China. It is the ancient capital of China, where the first emperor of China established his capital. The famous Terracotta Warriors are his mausoleum.

You can also visit a cave-dwelling, a type of local residential house, to see how Xi'an cave-dwellers manage to stay warm in winter and cool in summer.

If you are lucky enough to get a snowy day, you will see a stunning Xi'an in snow, especially from the Old City Wall, which will take you back a thousand years to medieval China.

For More Ideas

Biking along the Erhai Lake in winterBiking along the Erhai Lake in winter in Dali, Yunnan

China is a vast country. Besides the destinations listed above, there are still many places to go. If you like mild weather or want a beach holiday, Yunnan or Sanya could be your choice.

If you want a more unique snow and festival experience, then you can visit northern Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia.

Our service is personalized. You can tell us your interests and requirements and we will make a tour plan for you. You can also refer to our suggested itineraries below. All our tours can be adjusted based on your needs. Just contact us.

What's the Weather Like in Winter in China

December to February is winter in China. Generally, January is the coldest month. If you want to enjoy snow scenery and snow activities, traveling in January and February is usually best.

If you want not-so-cold weather, then come in December. There are also fewer visitors in early December.

Winter in most parts of China is cold, but mostly sunny and drier. There are some differences between the North and the South.

North China is mostly close to 0°C (32°F) or below with snow. As a result, most of China's excellent natural ski resorts are in the north, like Beijing and Harbin.

The temperature in most parts of southern China is around 5–10°C (41-50°F) with a much lower chance of snow. Further south, Guilin and Guangdong often see mild weather around 15°C (59°F).

Southernmost Hainan Island is a good place to enjoy sunshine and beaches in winter. It is very warm and the temperature stays around 20°C (68°F) in winter. Yunnan, in southwest China, also has a warm winter climate in its tropical south, but it's mild to cold depending on the altitude further north.

Suggested Winter Itineraries

No matter what season you come to China, Beijing, Xi'an, and Shanghai are must-visit trios for first-timers. In addition to these cities, we also recommend some special winter cities for you in the itineraries below.

1. The (Winter) Itinerary for First-Timers

This is a classic China itinerary that you may want to refer to if it is your first time visiting China.

This 10‒11-day itinerary visits Beijing, Xi'an, Guilin, and Shanghai. You would not only see top China attractions like the Forbidden City, the Great Wall, the Terracotta Warriors, and the Bund but also visit Guilin, where you would see in southern China's relatively mild winter and could see and experience idyllic rural scenery and lifestyles.

If you happen to be visiting during Chinese New Year, we could also arrange celebration experiences for you, like going to a New Year Fair and watching folk art performances.

Here is the suggested itinerary:

10-day winter classic China itinerary
  • Days 1‒3: Beijing (the Great Wall with a night tour, the Forbidden City…)
  • Days 4‒5: Xi'an (the Terracotta Warriors, a food tour…)
  • Days 6‒8: Guilin (a river cruise, countryside life experience, ethnic minority culture)
  • Days 9‒11: Shanghai (the Bund, free time to explore)

If you want to ski, you could stay in Beijing for one or two more days, and we would arrange a great ski resort for you. Just contact us.

Discover real reviews of Highlights Travel Family's best-rated service across trusted platforms.

Trip Advisor certificate of 2023 Tour Review

2. If You Prefer Snow Festivals and Activities

This itinerary is very suitable for those who are fond of snow scenery and want to attend a splendid snow festival.

Simply add Harbin into the itinerary with Beijing, Xi'an, and Shanghai. Harbin's Ice and Snow Festival is definitely the grandest winter festival for travelers anywhere — a great place to celebrate Christmas and New Year.

You could also have a close encounter with many endangered Siberian tigers and enjoy a fun skiing vacation.

It would take about 13‒14 days. Here is the itinerary:

  • Days 1‒3: Beijing (the Great Wall with a night tour, the Forbidden City…)
  • Days 4‒8: Harbin (Ice and Snow Festival, Siberian tigers, ski…)
  • Days 9‒11: Xi'an (the Terracotta Warrior, food tour…)
  • Days 12‒14: Shanghai (the Bund, free time for exploration)

All our tours are customized. Our travel consultants would create your trip based on your needs, interests, group size, and travel time. Just contact us.

3. A Winter China Tour with Pandas

If you want to see pandas, then this itinerary is suitable for you.

Besides Beijing, Shanghai, and Xi'an, Chengdu is added, the hometown of pandas. You can take part in a volunteer program to take care of pandas, clean their bedrooms, make their food, and watch them be fed.

In Chengdu, you can also experience Chinese food culture in a group of people sitting around a hot pot — a lively and warm activity.

If you want to ski or enjoy hot springs, Bipenggou, near Chengdu, is a great choice with natural ski resorts and spectacular snow scenes.

  • Days 1‒5: Beijing sightseeing with tai chi classes and a hutong family visit
  • Days 6‒7: Xi'an sightseeing with hands-on experiences like making clay warriors and making dumplings
  • Days 8‒10: Chengdu with a panda volunteer program and a food tour (if you want to ski at Bipenggou, you would need two more days. Just contact us.)
  • Days 11‒13: Shanghai sightseeing with a Disneyland day

Discover real reviews of Highlights Travel Family's best-rated service across trusted platforms.

Trip Advisor certificate of 2023 Tour Review

4. If You're Looking for a Unique Winter Experience

Here are some itinerary ideas for if you're seeking off-the-beaten-path destinations, unique winter scenery, and experiences, or a warm winter holiday:

Costs for a Winter Trip to China

Winter is a relatively cost-effective time to travel, except for holiday times like around Christmas and New Year, and Chinese New Year. During these holidays, the prices of air tickets and hotels will increase greatly.

For a private tour, the average cost per day is about US$220–350 per person, including flights/trains within China, 4- or 5-star hotels, lunches, attractions, guides, and private transport. Kids under 10 get 30 to 50 percent off.

If you are planning a trip to China, please book it at least 3 to 6 months in advance. We offer a free cancellation policy: you'll receive a 100% refund of any payments made to China Highlights if you cancel up to three weeks before departure. (See more details.)

Crowding on a Winter Trip to China

Winter is the off-season for tourism when crowding is generally not an issue in China. However, there are a few holidays in winter in China, when there are crowds of Chinese tourists at attractions.

Christmas is not an official holiday in China, so there are not many tourists in December. There will be crowds during the New Year's Day holiday on January 1–3.

Chinese New Year falls in late January or early-to-mid-February. Train stations and airports see huge increases in traffic for weeks before and after. But there are usually not many tourists at scenic spots, because most Chinese people get together at home during this holiday.

Tour China with Us

Our private tours are designed to be the most convenient and fulfilling option for your trip to China. We would create an itinerary according to your flight times, interests, and any other requirements. Just contact us.

You Might Like to Read

Start planning your tailor-made tour with 1-1 help from our travel advisors. Create Your Trip

Sign up to Our Newsletter

Be the first to receive exciting updates, exclusive promotions, and valuable travel tips from our team of experts.

Click to Sign up

Why China Highlights

Customize Your Tour

Customize Your Tour

  • Travel Advisors Rooted in China
  • Instant Response, No More Waits!
  • Direct Connections, Supreme Values
Maximize Your Flexibility

Maximize Your Flexibility

  • Your own personal guide and ride.
  • Explore at your own pace.
  • Unparalleled flexibility, impossible on a group tour.
Ensure Your Satisfaction

Ensure Your Satisfaction

  • The Top 20% nationwide guides at your service.
  • 20% more space on your group's transportation.
  • 24/7 emergency support.
Live Your China Story

Live Your China Story

  • Authentic local culture and lifestyles.
  • Understand the culture by living it.
  • Uncover fascinating histories and witness New China.
China Highlights logo
Trip Advisor rating Rated 5 out of 5 | 98.8% Excellence
China Highlights International
Travel Service Co., LTD
Featured on
China Highlights was featured on these medias.

Address: Building 6, Chuangyi Business Park, 70 Qilidian Road, Guilin, Guangxi, 541004, China