When is the Best Time to Visit Beijing

Last updated: October,18 2018

China is a huge country, and no matter what season it is, there is always somewhere worth visiting. Lying in the northeast of the country, on the coast of the Bohai Sea, is the national capital of Beijing. The world’s third most populous city, Beijing is the most populated capital city in the world with more than 24 million inhabitants across the metro area. One of the few city-municipalities that exist in China, Beijing is not just the capital, but is one of the world’s leading centers for economy, business, politics, finance, education, and culture.

Traveling to Beijing can actually be done at any time of the year, and has a monsoon-influenced climate, with hot humid summers and dry cold winters. Spring and autumn are both short and cool, which make great times to travel to the city. Beijing is a city of extremes, with the coldest temperatures getting down to as low as minus 8 degrees, and the hottest month reaching well above 30 degrees.

Beijing has around 570mm of rain a year, most of which is concentrated into the months of July and August, where you can see up to 200mm of rain in each month. However, even in these wettest months you can still expect half of the daylight hours to be sunny and bright, sometimes more than in the dry seasons.

Beijing in Spring

Spring in Beijing runs from March to May, and is one of the shortest seasons of the year. Just as you are starting to enjoy the warmer spring weather after the cold of winter, the summer starts to arrive and the spring is over and gone. The weather in spring is dry and warm, yet a little cloudy with the remnants of the winter weather still hanging on to the north. However, you will still need a good fleece jacket and some warmer clothing, as it is not that warm and the weather can change quickly. While the daytime temperatures are starting to increase above 15 degrees, the nights can still be cold with lows of around seven degrees.

Features Things to Do and to See in Spring

Beijing has some stunning features for those traveling in the spring, not the least of which is the Beijing Botanical Garden. Lying on the northwestern outskirts of the city, near the Jade Spring Mountain, the garden has more than a dozen halls and exhibition districts in its 564,000 square meter grounds. There is even a district where you can see some of the most endangered plants in the world being nurtured and revived for future generations.

Known as the Jade Deep Lake Park, Beijing Yuyuantan Park lies in the heart of this huge metropolis, covering an area of around 137 hectares. Located between the Third Ring Road and the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, the park has a long and varied history, and was an attraction even in the days of the Liao Dynasty (907-1125 AD). While the lake is a more recent feature, added using piped water from Fragrant Hills in northwest Beijing, even this was built in 1773, with an Imperial Palace built beside it.

 Mutianyu Great Wall Spring is the ideal time to trek along the Mutianyu Great Wall in Beijing.

Spring is also one of the best times to visit the section of the Great Wall at Mutianyu, just 73 kilometers from the downtown area of Beijing. Built in the mid-sixth century, this section of the Great Wall, which stretches across northern China, is one of the oldest sections and also one of the most well preserved. With 22 watchtowers along its 2.25km-long section, the Mutianyu Great Wall is one of Beijing’s most famous tourist attractions, and a great place to go hiking.

>> Hike the Great wall and See the Best of Beijing and Tibet with Our 8-day Classic Beijing Lhasa Tour

Beijing in Summer

Summer, from June to late August, is the hottest time of year in Beijing, when tourist rates are at their highest and the Mutianyu Great Wall groans under the weight of hundreds of thousands of tourists, both international and domestic. The weather in summer can be very hot, but also very humid, and the rains of the monsoon are heaviest in the months of July and August, with almost 22mm of rainfall per month. Temperatures can easily reach over 30 degrees, and in the extreme, summers in Beijing have even reached as high as 44 degrees. Night times are also hot, with temperatures averaging as high as 22 degrees throughout July, the hottest month.

Features Things to Do and to See in Summer

Summer is the best time of year to visit the ancient Summer Palace of the Emperors of China, which includes the largest imperial palace garden in the world. Built in the Qing Dynasty in around 1750, it was the last of the famous palaces to be constructed, and is part of the “three mountains and five gardens” of Beijing. In 1898, the summer palace was where the Emperor Guangxu, after the failure of the Hundred Days Reform, was imprisoned, making it the most luxurious prison in history.

 Summer Palace in Beijing Summer Palace includes the largest imperial palace garden in the world.

The largest of the three lakes of Beijing, the other two being Qianhai and Xihai, Houhai Lake is also the most ancient, being formed more than 700 years ago. Located within the center of Beijing, this beautiful place has a great view of the distant northern mountains, and the shores are fringed with willow trees, their long fronds dipping into the water

Summer is also the peak season for the Beijing Tibet tour. There are many tourists, from home and abroad, take the popular Beijing to Lhasa train to Tibet during the summer holiday. So if you plan to visit Tibet from Beijing by train in summer, you need to book your train ticket in advance.

Beijing in Autumn

The autumn months run from the beginning of September through to the end of November, and have the best weather of the two shoulder months.The disturbing heat of summer has passed, and the rains have left the landscape lush and green for the start of the dry seasons. Temperatures are cooler in autumn, with the October average reaching as low as 19 degrees, and cooling down to around 10 degrees during the daytime in November. With very little rain, the days are dry and bright, and filled with the stunning colors of the dying autumn leaves.

Features Things to Do and to See in Autumn

From mid-October to mid-November, the Fragrant Hill area celebrates the Red Leaves festival, which is the best time to see the red leaves of autumn. Fragrant Hills is a public park in the northwest of Beijing, at the foot of the Western Mountains that includes natural pine and cypress forests, as well as several areas of maple trees, smoke trees, and persimmon trees. The park has been around since the 12th century Jin Dynasty, and was the site of an ancient summer palace that was burned to the ground by British troops in 1860.

 Fragrant Hills filled with red leavesAutumn is the best time to see the red leaves in the park of Fragrant Hills.

Autumn is also one of the best times to hike along the Great Wall, as there are fewer tourists cramming onto its ramparts at this time of year. Hiking is mostly done along the Badaling, Mutianyu, and Jinshanling sections of the wall, and make for some great excursions outside the city on brisk autumn days.

>> Enjoy a Trip to Tibet and Everest at the Best Time with Our 10-day Tibet Tour by Train from Beijing

Beijing in Winter

Winter in Beijing, from December to February, is the coldest time of year, but also the cheapest for Beijing tourists. While there is not much snowfall in Beijing even in winter, snow does fall in the colder parts of the winter, and the temperatures can get quite cold, dropping to between 2 and five degrees throughout the winter months. January is the coldest month, with daytime temperatures reaching only 1-2 degrees and nighttime temperatures dropping to as low as minus nine. However, with the huge number of discounts on hotels and travel to Beijing in the colder months, it is well worth a visit if you are not afraid of a little chilly weather.

Features Things to Do and to See in Winter

Skiing is one of the favorite pasttimes of tourists in Beijing whenever it snows, and there are several areas in the suburbs where you can get in some good low-slope skiing. Another popular activity in winter is the ice-climbing expeditions that head for the area to the north of the Jinshanling section of the great Wall. The Western Mountains are one of the most popular places in northeast China for ice-climbing thanks to the intense cold that keeps the ice solid.

 Spring Festival Celebration in Beijing Joining the Spring Festival with local Beijing citizens will be a unique experience.

The most popular thing to do in the winter months in Beijing is attending the Spring Festival, or Chinese New Year. Held annually in either January or February, it is one of the most amazing experiences for international tourists to the city, although you do need to book your accommodation and trip at least 3-4 months in advance. It is also one of the more expensive times of the winter season, as prices increase for the period of the Chinese holiday.

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