If you're traveling to China for work, on a tour, or visiting for pleasure, chances are the closest you'll come to a bank is an ATM to get some cash. You probably won't need to visit an actual bank teller unless you are staying for a longer period of time and have an account in one of the Mainland banks.
Theoretically, ATMs are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but that doesn't mean that you'll necessarily be successful with a foreign card in the machine when banks are closed; for that, you will need to find an ATM that has a label that says it only accepts foreign cards, usually found in shopping centers and popular tourist spots.
If you do find yourself in need of actually going inside and visiting a bank, you'll find hours similar to what you're used to at home, with the exception of larger branches being open on the weekends. Banks in major Chinese cities are open at least six days a week from approximately 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., although some banks close or are short-staffed between noon to 2 in the afternoon. If you need to use banking services, it's safest to go on a weekday before or after lunchtime.
Public (Bank) Holidays
Banks are generally closed on the official Chinese public holidays, though sometimes they are open or short-staffed for some of the days in a longer holiday (like Chinese New Year). However, what is considered a "public holiday" and an "official holiday" is sometimes difficult to differentiate.
Each year the government announces the holiday schedule. So while you might know that Chinese New Year falls on February 8 for a particular year, you can assume that the "official" holiday will include Chinese New Year's Eve Day, Chinese New Year, and the day after while the "public" holiday could be a whole week—it's confusing.
Generally, banks are closed on the government's mandated "official" holidays that usually include the Western-Calendar New Year on January 1, Chinese New Year holidays around the first day of the first month of the Lunar Calendar (usually in January or February), and Qing Ming or Tomb Sweeping Day usually during the first week of April.
Labor Day is celebrated on May 1, though sometimes observed on May 2 while the Dragon Boat Festival is dependent on the Lunar Calendar, usually the second or third week of June. Victory Day, first introduced in 2015 as a one-day holiday to celebrate China's victory over Japan, is now held September 3. The Mid-Autumn Festival occurs on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month, usually in mid to late September, and National Day is celebrated on October 1, with the official holiday lasting two to three days and the public holiday lasting about a week.
If you're planning your vacation to China and want to center it around or avoid one of these holidays, Office Holidays keeps track of the dates and closing times associated with China's holiday traditions each year.