A Guide to China in Spring

••• Prayer flags along the pass in the Ganjia Grasslands. Photo by Sara Naumann. All rights reserved.

If it weren't for the rain, spring would certainly be my favorite time of year in China. Even though the winter is short (OK, for those of us south of the Yangtze River), it does hit hard. So by the time March rolls around and you can make an attempt at imagining putting your heavy winter coat away, you feel like you’ve lived through half a year of winter.

But by the end of March, you can find little green buds on the ends of the trees and flowers starting to force their way into bloom.

Then, April begins and all of a sudden, it’s spring! Every flower seems to bloom at once and varieties I can’t begin to name explode with pink, red and white blooms. And even in the heart of the largest metropolitan city in China, Shanghai, with a population of 18 million, bees manage to carve out a living, pollinating the intrepid flowers. It is truly amazing to see nature do its thing despite man’s best effort to pave over it.

Below you’ll find a guide to spring in China and some suggestions of things to do. It’s a great time to visit China. Bring your rain gear and enjoy mild temperatures and fewer tourist crowds.

Spring by Month

Spring in China follows the usual northern hemisphere spring months:

Spring Activities

When the weather warms up, just get outside and enjoy it while you can. It seems all too soon that the temps get up so high that being outside is uncomfortable, especially for serious sightseeing.

Take advantage of the warm spring days to do some of the following:

Outdoor Dining

I get the impression Chinese people don't love to eat outside. I think it's partially due to the sun (very smart) but often I'm dismayed at the lack of outdoor dining. That said, there are some special places:

  • Eat Al Fresco in Shanghai - here's a list of some great spots in Shanghai with outdoor dining facilities
  • Dragon Well Manor - this restaurant outside Hangzhou is set in a garden. Springtime is a wonderful time to visit and if you'll be in the area with a larger group, I highly recommend it.
  • Lhasa - House of Shambala - if you happen to be in Tibet, then head to the rooftop of this hotel for the best views in Lhasa

Walking Tours

  • Shanghai's Fuxing Road - a delightful walk in Shanghai's Former French Concession
  • Shanghai's Shaoxing & Taikang Roads - another delightful walk in Shanghai's Former French Concession
  • Beijing's Liulichang - an interesting trip down one of Beijing's most historic districts
  • Chengdu Walking Tour - a walk that takes you from the river to a park to play mahjong with the oldies
  • Xizhou, Yunnan Walking Tour - check out this gorgeous village in rural Yunnan Province
  • Tashilhunpo Monastery Kora - a walk that takes you up the mountainside in Shigatse for incredible views and interesting interactions

Hikes and Treks

Spring is a great time to hike and trek. It might be wet but at least it won't be overly hot, or overly crowded.

  • Trekking with Camels on the Mingsha Dunes in Gansu
  • Walk through Wildflowers in the Gannan Grasslands
  • Hike Tianyou Peak in Wuyishan
  • Trek the Longsheng Rice Terraces in Guangxi Zhuang
  • Sky Walk Among the Trees in Xishuangbanna

Great Locations for Spring Travel

  • Wuyishan - for mountains, tea and gorgeous scenery
  • Gansu Province - this region offers a large array of activities that are great to do in spring
  • Xishuangbanna - for its lush rainforest scenery and incredible flowers
  • Chengdu - Panda Cuddles and More
  • Hangzhou - famous for its West Lake scenery
  • Suzhou - the city's famous UNESCO-listed gardens will be in full bloom
  • Tibet - one of the most popular times to visit is spring

Spring Holidays

It's probably smart to plan around these holidays as travel prices can go up and it can get more crowded at certain sites.