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Yunnan Weather: Best Times to Visit Yunnan

Generally speaking, Yunnan enjoys a mild climate with pleasant weather but, due to its varied terrain, the weather is also diverse in different regions.

Main Features of Yunnan's Climate

Dongchuan Red LandDongchuan Red Land

Yunnan has high mountains bordering Tibet in the west, a hilly 1,000-m-altitude plateau in the east, and a tropical zone in the south.

Spring-Like Climate

Owing to its 1,000-meter-altitude with abundant heat and light, the east of Yunnan (around Kunming) has a year-round spring-like climate. The average temperature annually is 17°C. The coldest month is January with average temperatures ranging from 8°C to 17°C. The hottest month is July with average temperatures ranging from 21°C to 27°C.

Distinct Dry and Rainy Seasons

Yunnan has distinct dry and rainy seasons. November to the following April is the dry season, when there is abundant sunshine and solar radiation is quite strong. Do not forget to take skin care products, such as sunblock and sunglasses if traveling during this period.

The rainy season runs from May to October. Most of the rainfall is between June and August. During this season, the temperature may drop quickly along with the rain. So, apart from an umbrella or other protective rain gear, you are recommended to take a thin overcoat and long pants.

Large Day/Night Temperature Difference

East Yunnan has little temperature difference between seasons but a large temperature difference between daytime and nighttime, especially from November to the following February. Therefore, you are recommended to take a coat or some thicker clothing whenever you travel to Yunnan.

Jade Dragon Snow MountainJade Dragon Snow Mountain

Obvious Vertical Variations in Climate

Yunnan is a mountainous province. The tall mountains of the west exhibit an almost full range of climate zones, from a subtropical zone at the base, to a temperate zone in the middle, to a frigid zone near the top.

There is an old and accurate saying there that, "You can enjoy all four seasons on the same mountain, where each of these four seasons is only a few miles distance from the others."

Best Times to Visit Yunnan

The weather in most areas of Yunnan is mild in winter and cool in summer. It is suitable to visit Yunnan all year round.

As previously mentioned, Yunnan's varied terrain results in diverse landscapes and weather conditions. The best time to visit depends largely on what you want to see and which part you want to go to.

if you do not want to experience the large temperature difference between daytime and nighttime in spring and winter.

Spring (March–May)

Shangri-LaShangri-La
  • Temperature: It ranges from 7–21°C (45–70°F) in Kunming, and from 5–17°C (41–63°F) in Lijiang and Shangri-La.
  • Good to know: In March, the weather is still chilly. May is the start of the rainy season and the temperature starts rising. The daily temperature difference in spring can vary between 12 and 20°C.
  • Items to prepare: Warm clothes are highly recommended. Also remember to take an umbrella.

Things to Do

March is a good time to see the snowcapped mountain scenery.

April is a golden period for traveling in Yunnan as the temperature is comfortable and it is not yet the rainy season. The sceneries of Kunming, Lijiang, and Shangri-La are beautiful. It is also the best time to hike Tiger Leaping Gorge. However, although it is not the busiest time, pre-booking is still required.

March to April is also the best time to experience the festivals and ceremonies hosted by the Bai minority people in Dali. In spring, it is also a great place for admiring flowers and taking outings in the countryside.

Summer (June–September)

Pudacuo National ParkPudacuo National Park
  • Temperature: It ranges from 16–24°C (61–75°F) in Kunming, and from 13–23°C (55–73°F) in Lijiang and Shangri-La.
  • Good to know: The temperature difference is not as big as it is in spring but, on rainy days, you may still experience a temperature drop of 10°C in one day.
  • Items to prepare: Take long-sleeved clothes with you, even on the hottest days. Moreover, an umbrella is useful on both sunny and rainy days.

Things to Do

From late spring to early summer, the best scenes of a flowery world unfold in Shangri-La. It is also the best time to admire the highland scenery. Midsummer is the best time to visit Pudacuo National Park in Shangri-La.

July and August form the rainy season as well as the peak season. The prices of attractions and hotels rise, and there are more travelers. However, more rainfall increases the water flow in rivers and lakes, and the scenery around Kunming and Lijiang is more impressive. Just confirm your booking earlier and let your guide help you solve any problems that may arise.

Autumn (October–November)

Tiger Leaping GorgeTiger Leaping Gorge
  • Temperature: It ranges from 14–22°C (57–72°F) in Kunming, and from 12–21°C (54–70°F) in Lijiang and Shangri-La.
  • Good to know: In autumn, the rainfall decreases considerably and the climate is drier with more sunshine. After October, the weather turns cold and the temperature changes significantly in one day.
  • Items to prepare: Remember to take thicker sweaters and jackets. Also take protective skin care products, sunglasses, or a cap to shield your head from the sun.

Things to Do

You can enjoy more sunny days in autumn. It is another golden period for traveling in Yunnan.

In Lijiang’s countryside, you have the chance to see a great view of the harvest.

Autumn is also the best time for admiring the colorful scenery in Shangri-La and for hiking in Tiger Leaping Gorge.

The National Day holiday, which lasts from October 1st to 7th, is the most crowded time in Yunnan. If you are going to visit the province during this period, you need to book your tour as early as possible. Your guide will do his/her best to ensure that you have a smooth journey, but you will still need to have some patience while queueing.

Winter (December–February)

Yuanyang Rice TerracesYuanyang Rice Terraces
  • Temperature: It ranges from 4–16°C (39–61°F) in Kunming, and from 1–15°C (34–59°F) in Lijiang and Shangri-La.
  • Good to know: Winter in Yunnan is not freezing and there is much less rain. There may even be more sunshine during this season. If you don’t mind carrying more clothes, visiting Yunnan in winter is a good option.
  • Items to prepare: Warm clothes are necessary, such as a knitted hat, gloves, a thick sweater, a down jacket, or a winter jacket. Also take sunscreen and sunglasses to protect against the sun’s rays in the highlands.

Things to Do

If you want a great view of snowcapped mountains, visit Yunnan in winter. With clear air and fewer clouds, you have a greater opportunity to see the peaks of the Meili Snow Mountains and the glacier scenery around Jade Dragon Snow Mountain.

The most beautiful view of the Yuanyang Rice Terraces appears in winter — after the harvest and before the sowing begins. During this time, the harvested terraces will be filled with water. Under the sunshine, the terraces look like shining sapphire gems.

If you had to pick a single province in China that would expose you to the greatest variations in topography and climate, it would have to be Yunnan Province.

 

A herd of cattle on a green meadow near Lijiang in summerA herd of cattle on a green meadow near Lijiang in summer

Weather Forecasts for Major Cities in Yunnan

Our Most Popular Yunnan Tours

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Here are our most popular Yunnan tours, for inspiration:

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