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, Mt. Changbaishan), and it might feel even colder still in Central China (Wuhan, Changsha) because humidity is high and buildings are not as well heated.
North and Northeast China — Frigid, Windy, Light Snow
— 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.
- 6-Day Harbin City Highlights and Yabuli Skiing Tour
- 1-Day Ice and Snow Fairyland Tour
- 6-Day Beijing Winter Tour with Skiing in a Winter Olympic Cluster
- 7-Day Harbin, China Snow Town, and Changbai Mountain Tour
West China — Frigid
— Xinjiang, Qinghai, Dunhuang, Xi'an, Tibet…
December is a good time to travel to Xinjiang if you want to see stunning snowy scenery.
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.
- 8-Day North Xinjiang Tour with Kanas
- 5-Day Tibet Winter Tour/li>
- 3-Day Essence of Xi'an Tour
- 5-Day Dunhuang Desert Culture Journey
East China — Windy, Humid, and Cold
— 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.
- 2-Day Shanghai's Old and New Collision
- 2-Day Lin'an Hot Spring & Skiing Tour
- 2-Day Weekend Getaway to Anji Bamboo Forest
- 4-Day Shanghai, Hangzhou, Water Town Culture Tour
Central China — Chilly
— 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.
The South China— Pleasant Cool Weather
— 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.
- 6-Day Sanya and Wanning Tour
- 4-Day Guilin Scenic and Ethnic Discovery
- 3-Day Kaiping and Foshan Tour
- 3-Day Chaozhou and Shantou Tour
The Southwest China — Cool Dry Days, Cold Nights
— Dali, Lijiang, Xishuangbanna, Kunming, Chengdu…
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.
- 6-Day Xishuangbanna and Pu'er Tour
- 7-Day Kunming, Dali, and Lijiang Winter Tour
- 8-Day Yunnan Tour of the Nu River and Tengchong
- 5-Day Chengdu and Bipenggou Tour
Average Temperature in December for Major Tourist Cities
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")|
Why Visit China in December?
- December is the low travel season (except for Hainan Island), and it is the quietest time of the year. Travel costs are lower, businesses offer bargains, and attractions are less crowded.
- If you visit the Great Wall in December, you are very likely to view an awesome snowy scene of the wall and the mountains covered with snow. In addition, there are fewer tourists, and you might have the wall to yourself.
- Ski resorts open in North China.
- Mild weather in the south: For those taking winter vacations, southern China is a pleasant escape from frosty weather. Outdoor activities and sightseeing are a delight.
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.
- 7-Day Harbin, Yabuli, China Snow Town, and Jilin Tour
- 6-Day Beijing Winter Tour with Skiing in a 2022 Olympic Winter Games Venue
- 5-Day Chengdu and Bipenggou Tour
- 5-Day Sanya Tour with the Best Beach — a Feast of Sea, Shore, and Sun
For more suggestions and tips see How to Plan Your First Trip to China. Or tell us your interests and requirements, we will create a winter tour for you.
Best Places to Visit in December in China
Have a snowy holiday in:
- Harbin: Ice and Snow Festival, skiing, hot springs...
- Mt. Changbaishan: snow, skiing, frozen Heavenly Lake
- Inner Mongolia: reindeer, nomadic life, BBQ in the snowy forest...
- Chengdu: hot pots, snacks, pandas, glacial valleys...
- Beijing: skiing, hot springs, the Great Wall...
- Northern Xinjiang: snow skiing, minority culture, vast landscapes...
Have a warm winter in:
- Yunnan: clear skies, diverse landscapes, minority culture...
- Sanya: sunny beaches, resorts with pools, sea foods...
- Lhasa: sunshine, Potala Palace, plateau scenery....
Check out Best Places to Visit in December.