A Visitor's Weather and Event Guide for Travel to China in January

© 2010 Sara Naumann, licensed to About.com.

January Overview

Ah, January. Here we are in the peak of winter. Unless you are spending January in the south, like on the beach in Hainan, you're going to need to pack that winter jacket. But January is not all bad. In fact, it is a really nice time to see China. Let it be known, however, that it is most certainly cold!

OK, your wimpy China Travel Expert (that's me!) might be overdoing things. It's actually a dry cold across the northern part of China that does allow you to get out and do things, as long as you are well insulated. Across central China, the weather is a little more uncomfortable because it is damp as well as cold. And homes and buildings are not well-insulated like we're used to in the West. So you'll definitely feel the cold a lot more when you're visiting central China.

But in the south, it's actually not too bad. Of course you will have cooler temperatures, but it can be quite comfortable for walking and sightseeing.

For more about different weather conditions throughout China, read this guide: Regional Weather in China.

January Weather

Here are some links for average daily temperatures and precipitation in some of China's major cities. This will give you an idea of what you'll be facing during your own visit.

  • Beijing: the ave daytime temp is 35F (1C) and ave number of rainy days is 2.
  • Shanghai: the ave daytime temp is 46F (8C) and ave number of rainy days is 9.
  • Guangzhou: the ave daytime temp is 65F (18C) and ave number of rainy days is 8.
  • Guilin: the ave daytime temp is 53F (12 C) and ave number of rainy days is 14.

January Packing Suggestions

Layers are essential for winter. Be sure to read my Regional Weather in China and my Complete Packing Guide for China for more.

  • North: it will be cold during the day and below freezing at night. You'll probably be thankful if you bring along a long underwear, a fleece and a wind-proof or down jacket.
  • Central: it will be quite chilly during the day and cooler at night, but rarely freezing. A heavy base layer (e.g. jeans, boots and sweaters) along with a rain/wind-proof jacket will be enough. If you're easily cold, a down jacket might be better.
  • South: it will be cool. Long sleeves and pants, as well as a rain/wind-proof jacket are essential.

    What's Great About Visiting China in January

    • Dry weather in Beijing and the rest of northern China makes for cold, but almost-guaranteed dry, sightseeing. Just make sure you've got plenty of layers and that you are bundled up. A good set of long underwear is essential.
    • Cold weather in central and south China can still be comfortable for sightseeing and touring as long as you've brought the right layers.
    • If you avoid travel during Chinese New Year, January is a good time to travel as it is not peak season for students or workers.

    What's Not So Great About Visiting China in January

    It's cold! There's no way around it. If you're visiting in January, then unless you spend the whole time in the very far south of China, you're going to experience the misery of the cold Chinese winters.

    Chinese New Year typically lands at the end of January or early February. This isn't necessarily a "con" but it can make travel around China a little more expensive. Just book ahead.

    The Weather Month by Month