Beijing has strange weather—extreme hot and cold temperatures, high humidity to no humidity, and dust storms to boot. It has glorious sunshine year-round but generally with gray skies. You’ll have rainstorms, but mostly just in July and August. The rains lead to hot, humid summers, while the winds from Mongolia and Central Asia blowing in the winter, make the climate dry, cold, and blustery.
Beijing is affected by monsoon circulation, making the transitional periods between monsoon currents (spring and fall ) the best time to visit. In the spring, temperatures range from 44.6 degrees (7 degrees C) and 78.8 degrees F (26 degrees C). Humidity levels are still low, and pollution levels are moderate. In the fall, temperatures are similar to spring, 44.6 degrees F (7 degrees C), and 77 degrees F (25 degrees C), but the humidity levels are lowest of the year, and the dust storms have stopped.
In addition to checking the weather, check the Air Quality Index (AQI) when there to see if air levels are harmful, especially for days you are planning to see sites mostly outdoors, like the Great Wall or the Forbidden City. The U.S. Embassy tweets this info daily and provides unbiased data.
Fast Climate Facts
- Hottest Month: July (87.6 F)
- Coldest Month: January (35.2 F)
- Wettest Month: July (7.3 inches)
- Windiest Month: April (7.8 mph)
Dust Storms and Pollution
Yellow dust blows through northern China each year, irritating eyes and lungs, causing low visibility for traffic, and creating yucky smog. Though dust storms can occur in winter, the prime season for this is spring, especially in March and April. The best option is to check the radar map and stay inside to avoid dust and pollutants.
Infamous for its poor air quality, Beijing still ranks among the top 200 most polluted cities in the world (coming in at 122). Though it is set to reduce its atmospheric particle matter (PM) rate in the coming years, its air quality levels are currently four times higher than the recommended amount by the World Health Organization. Exercise caution on smoggy days and do not venture outside without a high-quality air mask.
Summer in Beijing
As the city starts to see lower pollution levels than in the spring, the temperatures rise along with the humidity in the summer. July and August are the wettest months of the whole year. To somewhat avoid humidity and thunderstorms, June will be the best month visit during this season.
July and August also see a sea of tourists in the city and along the Great Wall, despite the warm temps. Go in June to avoid these crowds and cool off by splashing around in the Dragon Boat Festival. Summer days will be long, especially in July, and the skies will go between being super sunny to overcast with rainstorms in July and August.
What to pack: Prepare for both heat and humidity: pack shorts, tank tops, and flip flops for the sunny days and a lightweight raincoat and waterproof shoes for the rainy ones. Sunblock or an umbrella is recommended (Block the sun or the rain!) and a water bottle.
Fall in Beijing
Fall is prime for visiting Beijing—the lowest pollution levels of the year and less heat than the summer make being outside bearable. The humidity starts to drop, and the rain mostly stops by mid-October. Nights become cool then and lead into pleasant November days.
Most Chinese tourists take advantage of the excellent weather, and the National Holiday should be avoided in the first week of October if you plan on going to see major tourist sites in relative peace. However, the National Holiday has some of the best weather of the year, and the city itself can be quite manageable and less crowded then, as Beijingers will leave town and Chinese tourists focus on going to national landmarks.
What to pack: Pack a hoodie for the evenings, as well as t-shirts and pants for early to mid-fall. For late fall, bring a warm jacket and socks, a scarf, gloves, and wool hat if you plan on venturing outside the city to see sights that require hiking.
Winter in Beijing
The temperature fluctuates from freezing to well below in the winter months. Expect short days full of sunshine and occasional snow, albeit with gray skies. Cold wind blows in from the deserts in the north, and dust storms can occur. The yellow dust from the deserts can create breathing problems, irritate eyes, and create a dusty haze around the city. Pollution levels also start to rise during this time, and the city can experience smog when there is no wind.
What to pack: Pack warm clothes and prepare to layer. Sunglasses will help with the sunshine as well as shield the eyes from some irritants, while a mask (preferably one with a good filter) will diminish your exposure to pollution and dust.
Spring in Beijing
Spring temperatures increase quickly, but also fluctuate, making it both pleasantly warm and cool. Spring has the most hours of sunshine of any season, and June has the most of the spring, with an average of 9 hours of sunshine per day. Humidity levels remain relatively low throughout March and April (46 percent) and begin to rise in May, but remain lower (53 percent) than summer levels. The only major weather concern with Spring is the yellow dust storms, blowing in from the deserts of Central Asia and Mongolia, which pick up in March and last through May (and even occur in the winter sometimes).
What to pack: Due to the warm and cool weather, it’s best to pack clothes for the heat as well as cool nights. Pack light jackets, jeans, short-sleeved shirts, and shorts. Pack a mask for dust storms, and sunscreen and sunglasses for the extensive sunshine.
|Average Monthly Temperature, Rainfall, and Daylight Hours|
|Month||Avg. Temp.||Rainfall||Daylight Hours|
|January||35 F||0.1 inches||10 hours|
|February||41 F||0.2 inches||11 hours|
|March||53 F||0.3 inches||12 hours|
|April||69 F||0.8 inches||13 hours|
|May||79 F||1.4 inches||14 hours|
|June||86 F||3.1 inches||15 hours|
|July||88 F||7.3 inches||15 hours|
|August||86 F||6. 3 inches||14 hours|
|September||78 F||1.8 inches||13 hours|
|October||66 F||0.9 inches||11 hours|
|November||50 F||0.3 inches||10 hours|
|December||39 F||0.1 inches||9 hours|