China Weather in May: Travel Tips for May

China Weather in May: Travel Tips for May

By Chris QuanUpdated Sep. 14, 2021

The 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.

May Weather Conditions in China

China Weather in May

  • Average daily temperature range: 14–25°C (57–77°F), mild to warm
  • Average rainfall: 101 mm (4 in), moderate
  • Daytime clothing: Take cool, breathable clothes, such as T-shirts/shirts/blouses and skirts/light trousers.
  • Evening clothing (and for cooler days): Take a warmer layer, such as a thin sweater or light jacket/waterproof.
  • Tourism: May is one of the best times to travel in China as the natural scenery is green and fresh. The first three days of May can be crowded though.

Tips for Traveling Around China in May

As the summer crowds haven’t arrived yet, May is one of the best times for traveling in China. This month also benefits from a moderate temperature and a moderate amount of rainfall (except in the stormy south: Guilin–HK).

In southern China, it is early summer in May. The warm weather means May is a great time for you to travel in China, and you don't need to take very much luggage.

May 1–5 Travel Tips

Labor Day falls on May 1st and there is a holiday for five days in China in 2021, from May 1st to 5th. Make your reservations as early as possible for this holiday, as hotels, transport, and sights 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 means 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.

After staying at home more (due to COVID), many people are planning to travel on May Day this year. Crowds are expected, especially in popular tourist cities. If you prefer a quiet environment, you could choose a less-traveled route that we recommend below.

Best May Destinations

ATV in GuilinATV driving experience in Guilin

Here we list some popular destinations to visit in May with interesting hidden sights and also introduce some less-traveled routes for you.

Alternatively, contact us to create a trip for your spring break according to your group size, time, budget, interests, and other requirements.

For Nice Scenery and Weather

  • Yunnan (Shangri-La, Dali, Lijiang): Hike on a hidden track up Lijiang’s Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, bike around Dali’s Erhai Lake, visit a non-public dormitory of Songzanlin Monastery in Shangri-La…
  • Tibet: Visit a less-touristy nunnery and enjoy Tibetan sweet tea, learn to cook a traditional Tibetan meal, explore the hill behind Sera Monastery that is mostly unknown to tourists…
  • Zhangjiajie: Try bungee jumping off the Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge, bike around the beautiful and non-touristy side of Tianmen Mountain, enjoy the scenery on an off-the-beaten track route…
  • Guilin: Try a 2-hour via ferrata (cable-protected cliff climb), have an adventurous ATV driving experience, explore a “mysterious” limestone cave…

Recommended Tours

For Less-Travel Routes

Xishuangbanna's tropical botanical gardenXishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden
  • Western Sichuan: Appreciate Bipeng Valley’s azaleas, horse riding on a vast grassland, stay overnight in a Tibetan village…
  • Yunnan (Xishuangbanna, Pu’er): Visit a Pu’er tea plantation, discover amazing plants in a tropical botanical garden, meet lovely animals in a forest park…
  • Quanzhou: Visit an oolong tea plantation, visit rare oyster shell houses in a fishing village, experience the unique Minnan (Southern Fujian) folk culture…
A sea of flowers in Yili, Xinjiang provinceA sea of flowers in Yili, Xinjiang province
  • Jingdezhen: Create some porcelain of your own, visit Yaoli Ancient Town and find the secret ingredients of porcelain…
  • Zhongwei: Experience dune bashing, sand sledding, camel trekking, and sheepskin navigation…
  • The Silk Road (Xinjiang, Dunhuang, Zhangye): Visit the Mogao Caves, Rainbow Mountains, the Ruins of the Ancient City of Jiaohe…
  • The Yangtze River: no crowds, relaxing time, beautiful view along the river... Contact us to book a Yangtze River Cruise.

See The Best 10 Places to Escape the Crowds in China Around Labor Day

Recommended Tours

Read more on The Best 8 Places to Visit in China in May.

West China — Yunnan, Western Sichuan, Tibet, the Silk Road…

Songzhanlin Monastery in Shangri-LaSongzhanlin Monastery in Shangri-La

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 in the west enjoy a big temperature difference between day and night. Take Lhasa as an example - the average temperature range is 6–20°C (43–68°F) and there are 9 days with a little rain (27 mm, 1”). Some places might be windy and cold, such as in the Gansu Corridor, so take a warm coat.

Lhasa has relatively good weather. It is warm and sunny with low rainfall. The flowers are in bloom and the trees are green. As the temperature is cool/mild, it's a great time to visit some remote attractions, such as Everest Base Camp and Lake Yamdrok.

Clothing: coat, sweater, hat, gloves, sunglasses

Recommended Tours

South China — Guilin, Quanzhou, Xiamen…

Colorful ancient houses in Quanzhou Zhangjiao VillageColorful ancient houses in Quanzhou Zhangjiao Village

South China experiences its early summer in May. Cities in the southern region are quite hot during the daytime. Take Guilin as an example - the average temperature range is 20–27°C (68–81°F) and there are 23 rainy days (341 mm, 14”).

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. The Li River cruise might be affected by the very high rainfall.

Some local people already wear T-shirts and shorts at this time of year. You will 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.

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

Recommended Tours

East China — The Yellow Mountains, Anji, Shanghai…

Cliff swing in AnjiCliff swing in Anji

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.

Take Shanghai as an example - the average temperature range is 16–23°C (61–73°F) and there are 17 rainy days (112 mm, 4½”).

Clothing: T-shirts, light trousers, jacket, light waterproof / umbrella

Recommended Tours

Central China — Chengdu, Zhangjiajie, the Yangtze River…

Bungee jumping in ZhangjiajieBungee jumping in Zhangjiajie

Central China has warm and pleasant temperatures, and May is one of the better months to tour the region as there is relatively low rainfall.

Take Chengdu as an example - the average temperature range is 18–26°C (64–79°F) and there are 15 rainy days (82 mm, 3”). Chengdu is often foggy and drizzly.

Chengdu’s temperature in May is comfortable. It usually rains at night or early in the morning. It's a great time to extend your Chengdu tour to see the Leshan Giant Buddha or visit the famous mountains around Chengdu.

May is the start of the rainy season in Zhangjiajie, yielding the misty scenery of “floating mountains”. As the plants and trees have new green leaves and blooming flowers, the forest park is especially worth exploring.

Clothing: T-shirts, shorts, jacket and light trousers for the evenings, light waterproof / umbrella

Recommended Tours

North China — Beijing, Xi’an…

Beijing Jiankou Great WallHike on the wild Jiankou Great Wall

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 temperature is comfortable enough to do outdoor activities.

Take Beijing as an example - the average temperature range is 14–26°C (57–79°F) and there are eight rainy days (36 mm or 1½”).

Blue sky may be seen in cities such as Beijing that rarely have blue sky during the rest of the year. May is also 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.

The comfortable daytime temperatures makes a bicycle trip on the Ancient City Wall in Xi'an a good experience.

Clothing: a coat or jacket

Recommended Tours

Most Popular China Tours for May

An outdoor activity is the main theme of May travel in China. Pack your bag and come with us to explore the beauty of China. Below are our suggested tours for your inspiration, and you can modify these as you wish.

All our tours can be customized. If you are not interested in the above destinations or tours, you can contact us to tailor-make an May tour for you.

Monthly Weather and Travel Information for China

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