Spring in China: Weather, What to Pack, and What to See

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

Spring is a nice time to visit much of China—though it might rain sometimes and early in the season may be cold, mainly in the north. The winter is short, but it may hit those south of the Yangtze River hard. So by the time March rolls around and you can imagine putting your heavy winter coat away, you feel like you’ve lived through half a year of winter. But by the end of March, little green buds appear 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 and there is an abundance of pink, red, and white blooms.

The spring season offers many diverse events such as a Buddhist water splashing festival, international film and automotive festivals, plus many lovely places to hike or walk in China. Bring your rain gear and enjoy mild temperatures and fewer tourist crowds.

Spring Weather in China

China is a large country and the weather varies greatly depending on when and where you are traveling. Northern China warms up in March, while the center of the country is chilly and very wet, and it rains a lot in southern ChinaApril brings pleasant weather to northern China, warm and wet days in central China, and the south is hot yet rainy. In May there is a break from the heat and humidity, though it's rainy in southern China; it's cooler the farther north you travel.

Beijing average daytime temperatures:

  • March 51 degrees Fahrenheit (11 degrees Celsius)
  • April 67 F (20 C)
  • May 68 F (20 C)

Shanghai average daytime temperatures:

  • March 55 F (13 C)
  • April 65 F (18 C)
  • May 68 F (20 C)

Guangzhou average daytime temperatures:

  • March 71 F (21 C)
  • April 78 F (26 C)
  • May 85 F (29 C)

Guilin average daytime temperatures:

  • March 62 F (17 C)
  • April 72 F (22 C)
  • May 75 F (24 C)

What to Pack

Since the country is so huge and has such a variety of weather conditions, you may want to bring something for any type of climate, depending on where you are going. For a March or April trip, pack various layers, rain boots, a raincoat, and an umbrella. In May you may be able to wear lighter layers like shorts, lightweight shirts and pants, and a jacket.

Spring Events in China

When the weather warms up, get outside and enjoy it while you can. China offers many events in the spring, ranging from flower and peach blossom festivals to international film and automotive gatherings.

  • Shanghai Peach Blossom Festival: Located in the Nanhui District, this festival has been celebrating the peach since 1991. In 2020, the event takes place from March 20 through April 16. Expect music, food, shops with peach products, pig races, and decorated orchards all in honor of the delicious fruit.
  • Water Splashing Festival: In 2020, the Dai Buddhist ethnic group in the southern China Yunnan province will take place from April 13 to 15. Community members dress festively and splash water on each other to spread good luck for the coming year. Event-goers enjoy dragon boat races, fragrant flowers, gift exchanges, and fireworks. 
  • Luoyang Peony Culture Festival: This annual gathering in Luoyang City in the west Henan Province in Central China fills up with fans of the country's national flower and Chinese tourists. From April 1 through May 7, 2020, view thousands of peonies in full bloom.
  • Beijing International Film Festival: A week-long film festival, the 10th annual event in 2020 will take place April 19-26 at the China Science and Technology Museum in Chaoyang. Expect elaborate ceremonies, red carpets, and diverse perspectives; it's an unmissable chance for movie buffs to see the latest films from both home and abroad.
  • Beijing International Automotive Exhibition: From April 21-30, 2020, car enthusiasts can head to the China International Exhibition Center to learn about the products and trends of the global car industry, including revolutionary new energy vehicles, intelligent vehicles, and auto digitalization.

Things to Do

Spring is a great time to hike, trek, and explore world-famous sites like the Great Wall of China and unique spots such as Buddhist holy mountains. The weather might be wet, but at least it won't be overly hot or too crowded.

  • Fuxing Road or Shaoxing and Taikang Roads: Try these delightful walks in Shanghai's Former French Concession.
  • The Great Wall of China: Spanning nine provinces and 13,000 miles (20,921 kilometers), The Great Wall is a wonderful place to hike, whether in the tourist zones or more remote areas.
  • Holy Buddhist Mountains: Make a pilgrimage to one (or more) of the four holy Buddhist mountains to enjoy a taste of nature and history.
  • Xishuangbanna: Visitors like this area, which offers lush rainforest scenery and incredible flowers.
  • Suzhou: This city is popular for its UNESCO-listed gardens that are typically in full bloom in the spring.
Tashilhunpo Monastery, seat of Panchen Lamas
Pawel Toczynski / Getty Images

Travel Tips

  • It's a good idea to plan around the holidays Qing Ming (from April 4 to 6) and International Labor Day (on May 1) in 2020. Travel prices can go up and it may get more crowded at certain sites during the festive days.
  • Flights are delayed and canceled in southern China (especially Guilin) from April to August. Ty high-speed trains which don't usually have the same issues.
  • Buy a Virtual Private Network (VPN) before your trip if you want access to typical social media websites such as Facebook and Google, as the government's firewall blocks access to them.