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March is seen as the start of spring (for central and south China). Generally, the winter cold is decreasing, and the weather is becoming warm.
China has a big climate range — from subzero winter in the northeast to warm spring and blooming flowers in the south. Weather in March in China differs greatly from region to region.
March is still in the low travel season. It is the last month that hotels in major China tourist cities offer the low-season price. Most hotels will raise prices by 30–40% from April to October. Beijing is an exception — hotels in Beijing begin to raise prices in mid-March.
March sees fewer crowds at tourist attractions, and it is warmer than December, January, and February. Find out about the Top Places to Visit in China in March.
North China starts to warm up, and snow melts more than it stays from Beijing southwards. North of Beijing, it is still definitely still freezing winter till April.
March is still very cold. Temperature differences between day and night are large — more than 10°C (18°F). Sandstorms and foggy (smoggy) weather are possible in this month for cities in north China. Prevailing light to moderate breezes reinforce the feeling of cold.
In Beijing in March, the average temperature range is -1–12°C (30–54°F) and there are 2 days of rain/snow (9 mm, ½”). It is like Washington DC (except for the dust storms and dryness) — sometimes quite chilly and often windy.
Clothing: winter coat, thick trousers and socks, and warm shoes. If you venture north of Beijing, dress for a Siberian winter, with thick hats, gloves, scarves, etc.
The Great Wall: Late March is one of the best times for hiking on the Great Wall because daytime temperatures are comfortable, it is dry, and crowds are fewer.
East China becomes wetter as a prelude to the summer monsoon season. Around half the month sees daily drizzle. It is quite windy. Light to moderate breezes are common.
Take Shanghai as an example — the average temperature is 5–13°C (41–55°F) and there are typically 14 days (90 mm, 3½”) of rain in March.
Clothing: long sleeves, thick trousers, sweaters, a windproof coat, and rain gear or umbrella
It's a good time to visit water towns near Shanghai. Peach blossom and ancient stone canal bridges make a great spring view.
There are cool/mild temperatures in central China, and it is nice weather for touring, since there is relatively low rainfall. From March, rainfall increases up to monsoon levels in summer.
Taking Chengdu as an example — the average temperature range is 8–17°C (46–63 °F) and there are typically 8 days (20 mm, 1”) of rain in March. Chengdu is often foggy and drizzly, but the total rainfall is low.
Clothing: coat, warm trousers, and pullover
Chengdu: March is low season for Chengdu. So it's a good time for you to see the lovely giant pandas with fewer tourist groups around you in the panda bases. You can have a quieter time with the giant pandas.
March is the cool/mild, drizzly season in south China. In the South, people begin to take off their thick “winter clothes” and put on spring clothes.
Take Guilin as an example — the average temperature is 10–17°C (50–63°F) and there are on average 19 days (135 mm, 5”) of rain in March. The daily drizzle builds towards the monsoon rains of May/June.
Clothing: A coat, warm trousers, pullover, and rain gear are enough.
Guilin: In late March, rape and peach flowers are blooming, and trees and grass put forth new growth. Spring drizzle and mist over the Li River makes for beautiful Chinese ink painting scenery.
Most of West China is still in its inhospitable dry winter in March. There is an especially big day-night temperature difference in this area in winter: 15°C (27°F) or more. The best weather is to be found in West Yunnan, the southeast of West China, where spring begins in March.
Take Lhasa as an example — the average temperature is -2–13°C (28–55 °F) and there are typically 2 days (3 mm, 0.1”) of light rain in March.
Clothing: thin sweater or jacket for daytime, and thick coat for night.
West Yunnan: The Lijiang area may be your best choice for Tibetan culture in March, as Tibet is often closed in March for the politically sensitive Tibetan New Year period. Lijiang’s dry and cool/mild weather (5–17°C, 42–63°F) is comfortable for outdoor activities like hiking Tiger Leaping Gorge with its Tibetan villages.
March is a very good season to travel to South China (Guangzhou, Guilin, Hong Kong). The weather is mild/warm with flowers blooming and fresh green leaves. The rainy season is yet to come. South China’s rainy season usually arrives in April and continues to July/August. Other recommendations include:
Read more on the best places to travel in March in China.
There are many flower festivals and three notable temple fairs in central and south China in March. See more Major Events and Festivals in March.
Carry a range of clothes if you are visiting the north and center/south in the winter/spring crossover.
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