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China Weather in May 2024: Where to Go, Crowds, and Costs

Written by Chris QuanUpdated Mar. 4, 2024

China's weather in May is pleasant with a relatively plentiful amount of sunshine and warm temperatures throughout China.

There is a stretch of warm, fairly dry weather before the summer heat and rains set in. May is one of the best times for traveling and sightseeing in China.

Read on for more about China's weather in May and our travel suggestions.

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China Weather in May: Overview

  • Average daily temperature range: 14–25°C (57–77°F), mild to warm
  • Average rainfall: 101 mm (4 in), moderate
  • Average rainy days: 7
  • Average sunny days: 24
China in May

Weather in North China (Beijing, Xi'an...)

In North China, spring is at its best in May. The natural scenery is green and filled with flowers, and the weather is moderate. Although it is cool at night, the daytime temperatures are very comfortable for outdoor activities.

Taking Beijing as an example — the average temperature range is 14–26°C (57–79°F) and there are eight rainy days totaling 36 mm (1.5 in).

The blue sky may be seen in cities such as Beijing which rarely have blue sky during the rest of the year.

Clothing: A pullover or light jacket should be enough during the day.

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Weather in East China (Shanghai, Hangzhou...)

East China has more rain than the north. Expect high humidity but pleasantly warm weather with moderate rainfall before the beginning of the summer monsoon season in June.

Taking Shanghai as an example — the average temperature range is 16–23°C (61–73°F) and there are 17 rainy days bringing a moderate 112 mm (4.5 in) of rain.

Clothing: Wear T-shirts, light trousers, and a jacket, and take a light waterproof or an umbrella.

Weather in South China (Guilin, Hong Kong...)

South China starts its long summer in May. Cities in the southern region are quite hot during the daytime. Guilin gets its monsoon rain early — the average temperature range is 20–27°C (68–81°F) and there are 23 rainy days amounting to an extremely high 341 mm (13 in) of rain.

You can wear T-shirts and shorts most of the time at this time of year. You may encounter rainy days in May, but it usually rains early in the morning and at night, so your trip won't be affected too much.

The warm weather also means that you don't need to take very much luggage.

Clothing: Wear T-shirts, shorts, and a light water-resistant jacket, and take an umbrella.

Weather in West China (Chengdu, Tibet, Yunnan...)

May is one of the best months for visiting the dry western regions as it is warmer without the high temperatures of the summer heat. It might rain for a short time but this won't affect your trip.

Cities at high altitudes enjoy a big temperature difference between the daytime and nighttime. Take Lhasa as a particularly dry example — the average temperature range is 6–20°C (43–68°F) and there are 9 days with a little rain — a semi-arid 27 mm (1 in).

Clothing: Pack a coat, some jackets, T-shirts, shorts, a hat, and sunglasses.

The Top 7 Places to Visit in May

May is a comfortable time to visit anywhere in China. In addition to the following destinations, you can tell us if you have any other destinations you want to go to. Our tours are customized. The itinerary will be tailored to your requirements.

1. Guilin

In May, the mountains around Guilin are covered with lush greenery, and colorful flowers add charm to the scenery.

It's a great time to visit the Longji Rice Terraces in Guilin when the terraced fields are irrigated but not yet obscured by growing rice.

You will see fantastic views of flooded fields reflecting the sky, and the ancient minority villages on the mountains will be shrouded in mist and fog.

Exploring the countryside by cycling in Yangshuo and appreciating the blossoms are also good to experience the vibrant springtime.

2. Beijing

May is one of the best times to visit the Great Wall. When the trees and plants turn green, the Wall snakes its way through lush vegetation.

If you like adventure, you could hike on a wild Great Wall section or experience camping on the Great Wall.

The stable and warm spring weather also makes visiting the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, and the Summer Palace a good experience.

3. Xi'an

Xi'an enjoys warm and comfortable weather in May too. The comfortable daytime temperatures make a bicycle trip on the Xi'an City Wall a very pleasant experience.

A visit to the Terracotta Army is not to be missed. You could also experience making a mini clay warrior yourself with us.

Additionally, we recommend going to the Muslim Quarter to taste a variety of local food.

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4. Tibet

Lhasa has good weather in May. It is mild and sunny with low rainfall. The flowers are in bloom and the trees are green.

As the temperature range is cool to mild, it's a great time to visit remote attractions, such as Everest Base Camp and Lake Yamdrok.

Experience the Tibetan spirit and Buddhism by visiting the Potala Palace and monasteries, such as Sera Monastery, and watching a unique monks' debate.

5. Zhangjiajie

May is the start of the rainy season in Zhangjiajie, yielding its misty scenery of "floating mountains". As the plants and trees have new green leaves and blooming flowers, its National Forest Park is especially worth exploring.

Try bungee jumping off the Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge, bike around the beautiful and non-touristy side of Tianmen Mountain, and enjoy the scenery on and off the beaten path route.

6. The Silk Road

Exploring the Silk Road during May is a fascinating and historically enriching experience.

The pleasant weather during May is ideal for visiting deserts and exploring the Zhangye National Geopark.

The scenery of Qinghai Lake is also at its best. Along the lake, vast fields of rapeseed flowers bloom, creating a beautiful contrast of yellow flowers against the endless blue waters.

A visit to the Mogao Caves is a must to admire intricate and early Buddhist art. Additionally, you could experience the unique cultural charm of Xinjiang by visiting local bazaars and towns.

7. Yunnan

May is a fantastic time to visit Yunnan as the weather is mild and pleasant with blooming flowers and lush greenery. It also offers a wide range of outdoor activities.

Explore the old town of Lijiang, pay a visit to Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, and experience the unique Naxi culture in the quaint villages at the foot of the mountains.

Hike through breathtaking Tiger Leaping Gorge and visit the ancient city of Dali, known for its Bai ethnic heritage.

Marvel at the magnificent stone forest formations near Kunming and discover the enchanting terraced fields of Yuanyang.

Crowds and Costs in May

As the summer crowds haven't arrived yet, May is one of the best times for traveling in China.

But it's important to note that the first week of May can be crowded because there is a 1-week Labor Day holiday. Hotel and airfare prices increase by 50% to 100% during this time.

If your time is flexible and you don't like having a crowded travel experience, we recommend that you avoid this week (around the May 1–5 holiday).

May 1–5 Travel Tips

GuilinOur customers and local guide in Guilin

Make your reservations as early as possible (6 months or more in advance is best) for this holiday, as hotels, transport, and attractions can be sold out quickly.

Book a trip with a travel agency. It will make your trip more efficient in the crowds of May Day: using the travel agency entrance or VIP service means that you'll enjoy less queuing time, a private car is much more efficient, and a private tour can introduce some interesting hidden routes away from the crowds.

Crowds are expected, especially in popular tourist cities. But you could choose a less-traveled route, such as Western Sichuan, the Silk Road, Inner Mongolia, or a Yangtze River cruise.

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All of our tours can be customized or adjusted based on your requirements. Feel free to tell us your ideas to create your itinerary. Or you could see our popular China tours for inspiration:

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