Climate of China

Climate of China

Where is the country of China located? China, officially the People’s Republic of China, is a country in East Asia. As a huge country in Asia, China has to deal with a large number of climate types. The country is also known for the extreme weather conditions that can occur here. Floods, hurricanes (typhoons), sandstorms, heavy hail, extreme heat and serious frost ensure that the country makes the international news several times a year due to the consequences of extreme weather conditions.

China climate

China has the honor of being the only country in the world to have a climate classification named after it. According to the Köppen climate classification, a china climate is a temperate climate with wet summers and is known as the Cw climate. A climate is a china climate when the wettest month in summer has at least an average of 10 times more rainfall than the driest month in winter and, like all temperate climates, the average monthly temperature of the coldest month is between -3°C and 18°C and has an average temperature of 10°C or more for at least one month per year. This climate does not occur in all of China: in all, less than half of China has a China climate. You will also find the china climate in India, Brazil, Paraguay and other countries in Latin America and southern Africa.


In terms of weather and climate, China is a country of contrasts. You can therefore not really speak of the climate of China, but of the climates in China. While the east can experience heavy rainfall in the summer, the west can also experience prolonged drought at the same time. Also in terms of temperature, major differences can arise within China at the same time. Differences of several tens of degrees are possible in both winter and summer. Also locally, the contrasts between the seasons are sometimes very large. The desert climate in the north, for example, causes a lot of cold in the winter months (to about minus thirty degrees), while in the summer it easily reaches 30 to 40 degrees above zero.

The dry north

Northern China mainly consists of plateaus without significant mountain peaks. Desert and steppe climates prevail here, with dry cold winters and warm to hot summers. In the winter months, the influence of the Siberian cold is very noticeable, causing temperatures on the high plateaus to drop to minus twenty to minus thirty degrees. It is a lot less cold on the lowlands in the northeast. Temperatures there are around freezing in the winter months. The northern part of China does not have much precipitation. The annual amounts vary from just under one hundred and fifty millimeters along the border areas with Mongolia to about seven hundred millimeters in the wettest areas of the lowlands in the east.

Most precipitation falls in the summer months; in winter the precipitation amounts are lowest and in most cases it is snow. However, locally and in extreme cases, fairly large amounts of snow can fall along the coast. With approximately three thousand hours of sunshine per year, northern China is one of the sunniest areas in Asia and even the world.

The mountainous west

The western part of China is a combination of mountains and deserts. Here you will find the Himalayas, with the highest mountain peaks in the world in a rugged landscape that is interspersed with green slopes and a large number of rivers. Here you will mainly find high mountain climates (type EH). In the lower areas, steppe climates, desert climates and on the eastern side of the Himalayas the previously described China climate dominate. The winter months are cold throughout the western half of China. In the northern desert areas it freezes ten to thirty degrees during the winter. More south, the temperatures are a bit higher as long as you do not exceed 3500 – 4000 meters. With an average of minus ten degrees for areas below four thousand meters, the winter in the Himalayas is still reasonably manageable.

After a fairly short spring, there is a switch to a warm and sunny summer period. Warm air is supplied from the west and causes temperatures to rise to summer values ​​of 25 to 30 degrees, with the exception of course for the high mountains, where the temperature is a lot lower. On the high mountain peaks there is eternal snow. In the months of March, April and to a lesser extent February, this region is known for dust storms. These storms are caused by the thawing of the frozen ground. The sand and dust carried by the wind can cause very limited visibility over great distances and a sky that turns gray, yellow or even black.

Monsoon and wind in the southeast

Southeast China has the smallest differences in summer and winter temperatures. Virtually the entire region is free from frost during the day and for nights with night frost you should be mainly inland (Wuhan, Dongting Lake, Suizhou, Changsha). Along the coast it never freezes (south) or rarely (east). Snow is almost exclusively found on the eastern plains of China. In the summer it is warm to very hot in the southeast of China. Daytime temperatures are on average between thirty and thirty-five degrees. These temperatures are fairly constant and have few peaks up or down. It is also warm at night, with minimum temperatures rarely dropping below 22-25 degrees. In combination with a considerably higher humidity, it is oppressively hot in the summer. Summer is also the monsoon period. During this rainy season, significant amounts of precipitation fall, especially along the southeastern coastal areas. The wettest areas in this region average two hundred to four hundred millimeters of precipitation per month in the summer season. Locally, these quantities can occasionally be considerably increased under the supply of tropical depressions and hurricanes. During the hurricane season, which runs from June through November in this region, multiple hurricanes can reach China. The misery is often limited to the coastal areas because the hurricanes quickly diminish in strength once over land. The lowlands in eastern China regularly experience severe flooding in summer due to heavy rainfall within a short period of time. The amount of damage and casualties from these floods is often greater than the misery caused by hurricanes in the Americas and the Caribbean. However, the amount of media attention and aid from the west is much smaller.

Climate figures

The figures below are based on long-term average climate statistics. The temperatures are displayed in degrees Celsius (°C).

Maximum temperature Minimum temperature Hours of sunshine per day Days of rainfall per month Water temperature
January 7℃ 0℃ 4 10 10℃
February 8℃ 1℃ 4 11 8℃
March 12℃ 5℃ 5 14 8℃
April 18℃ 10℃ 5 15 11℃
May 23℃ 16℃ 6 15 16℃
June 27℃ 20℃ 6 15 21℃
July 31℃ 25℃ 7 12 25℃
August 31℃ 25℃ 8 11 27℃
September 27℃ 21℃ 6 13 25℃
October 22℃ 15℃ 5 12 22℃
November 17℃ 9℃ 5 11 18℃
December 10℃ 2℃ 5 10 14℃

Best time to visit China

Do you want to know when is the best time to travel to China? You can determine the best time to travel to a destination based on the weather and climate. In addition, there are other factors that are not directly related to the weather and that can influence the best travel periods for a travel destination. Think, for example, of holidays or festive periods, which makes traveling more interesting or not, because daily life comes to a standstill as a result. China ranks fourth on the list of the largest countries in the world. The surface, together with the differences in height and other influences, ensures that in the case of China there is a large variation in climate types. Think of temperate climates including the specific China climate, high mountain climates and desert climates. It is therefore difficult to give unambiguous travel advice for China. Nevertheless, there are a number of similarities in the monthly weather forecast that apply to large parts of China. Based on these similarities, you can say that late springthe best time to travel to China is and autumn is another good option for large parts of China, unless you are close to the coastal areas. April is a pleasant travel month in many places.

Wet summers and cool winters

There are two seasons that are less suitable for a tour or other type of holiday in large parts of China. In winter it is cool in quite a few places to even very cold. This does not apply to the southeastern regions of China, which include Guangzhou, Fuzhou, Hong Kong and Macau. There it is dry in winter, quite sunny and the temperatures can be called spring-like. What applies to large parts of China is that the summer months are wet. This is the wet season in most of the country where the amount of rain can be problematic in some areas. Floods can seriously disrupt daily life and traffic. Summer is also the period with the highest temperatures. Think about thirty degrees Celsius in the capital Beijing, about 25 degrees Celsius in the warmer mountain areas and 30 to 35 degrees in the subtropical southern regions.

Avoid the Golden Weeks

If there are periods when it might be better not to travel to China, it is during the so-called Golden Weeks. This is a week in which almost all of China is off and on holiday. Nowadays there are three such weeks. The first Golden Week is around the Chinese New Year, which takes place in late January or in February. Daily life is then completely disrupted. The real New Year is celebrated in a big way with dragon dances, lion dances and fireworks. In the two weeks that follow, there is relatively little to do for tourists. Shops often remain closed, as do museums and public places. The second Golden Week falls in the first week of May. This is the ‘Labour Day Golden Week’, which begins with Labor Day on May 1. Workers are then off for several days in a row, which leads to congestion in traffic, at attractions and at airports. The third Golden Week may have the most impact on tourism. This is the ‘National Day Golden Week’ and it starts around October 1. This holiday week can last up to eight days, which many Chinese use to really get out and about. Count on full domestic flights and hotels, for which you pay the main price during this period. If you want to travel to China in the first week of October, it is better to arrange your transport and accommodation well in advance. The theme parks, museums and other places of interest are very busy during this third Golden Week in China.


If there is one country in Asia that regularly experiences typhoons, it is China. From June to November hurricanes (which are called typhoons or cyclones) can form above the relatively warm seawater. These huge depressions can cause high winds, heavy rainfall and extensive destruction. The southeast coast is most sensitive to this. Some cyclones can travel hundreds of kilometers inland, but decrease in strength over land. The risk of typhoons and severe tropical depressions means that we cannot consider autumn the best time to travel for the coastal areas.