Top Places to Visit in China during Winter

Plan your China tour in winter? China has a continental and seasonal climate. Southern areas are in the tropical or subtropical zone while northern areas are in the frigid zone. Climates in different areas are complicated. Every season here has its charms and pitfalls!

Generally, the coldest months in China are December, January and February for the winter season. Winter can be incredibly cold especially in the north, but  the southern China in winter is not that cold.

Basically there are three types of winter travelers coming to China. First, those who are in “hot” areas welcome the cold and snowing days; second, “snowbirds” or visitors who like warmer areas when winter comes;  Third, “migrant birds” or travelers who pass by China on theirs way to even warmer or colder areas.

Two factors make winter travel in China still attractive. First, lower rates for international and domestic  flights,  hotel rooms, entrance fees, but apart some exceptions such as traveling China at some special occasions like Chinese spring festival and some  destinations like Sanya in a warmer region in winter.

The second factor is that  people have long weekends and a number of holidays during the months of December, January, and February, Christmas and New Year’s and so on.

We are going to list some top places to visit in China in winter in three categories –  places for travelers from hot areas; places for snowbirds and places for migrant birds.

Harbin Ice and Snow World
Harbin Ice and Snow World

1. China’s Top Winter Destinations  for Travelers from “Hot Areas”
People from some ” hot areas” such as Southeast Asian countries like Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Australia and the list could be much longer, prefer to visit some cold areas in China, in a hope to feel the cold and touch the snow.  Below is a list of the top destinations and activities for travelers from the hot areas.

1) Harbin and its Ice and Snow Activities
As the coldest city in the most northern China, Harbin’s coldest months fall on late December through early March. Late November through the whole January is the snowing season and January is the coldest month with the average temperature at -25 ℃.  Harbin’s winter is dry, cold and long coupled with a longer period of snow covering.

Winter is the best season to visit Harbin with the main draws seeing and touching the snow, and January and February are ice and snow festivals in Harbin.  More reasons to visit Harbin, skiing, exploring the Northern China Tigers,  getting close to penguins, local cuisine tasting and more.  Check out Top Things to Do in Harbin in Winter.

2) Xuexiang ( Snow Town )
Xuexiang ( Snow Village) is located 197km east of Mudanjang City.  Actually Xuexiang ( Snow Village ) is not an official name and its formal name is Shuangfeng Forest Farm (双峰林场) in Changting Township (长汀镇) at Hailin City (海林市), Heilongjian Province. The forest farm is  under the administration of Dahailin Forestry Bureau (大海林林业局).

Xuexiang ( Snow Village ) boasts the longest 7-month period of snowing in China. The snow in Xuexiang is very sticky, one of the best snows in China, nicknamed “China Snow Village”.  Xuexiang ( Snow Village ) is the training base for the National Skiing Team and August First Army Team as well. Many excellent skiers of national and world level come from this train base.

Beside skiing at Xuexiang Ski Resort,  Xuexiang Village also offers a wide range of snow activities such as alpine sleigh rides, horse driven sledges,  snow carved city, snow maize, snow bar, snow photography and so on. If you are lucky,  you can happen to watch the skiing performances by the August First Army Skiing Team

3)  Yabuli Ski Resort
Yabuli Ski Resort is the official name given to the biggest ski resort in China (Chinese: My Trip to Yabuli Ski Resort) lying about 230km to the south-east of Harbin city and 130km to the west of Mudanjiang city.

Actually Yabuli Ski Resort is composed of three major ski resorts big or small with over 10 hotels ranging from basic guesthouse to luxury hotels. The three most well known ski grounds in Yabuli Ski Resort – Sun Mountain Ski Resort (Melco Ski Resort), Yabuli Ski Resort (same name as the official one for the whole area) and Avaunce (Yabuli) Ski Resort. Each ski resort has its own accommodation choices.  Check out Yabuli Ski Resort for more information.

4) Wanlong Ski Resort
Wanlong Ski Resort is located at Honghualiang, 12km east of Chongli County in Zhangjiakou City, about 260km northwest of Beijing. Normally you have two options of going from Bejing to Wanlong Ski Resort – either by driving along Jingzhang Expressway and directly getting to Wanlong or first taking a fast train from Beijing to Zhangjiakou, then connecting a local van or bus from Zhangjiakou to Wanlong Ski Resort.

The Beijing – Wanlong Resort drive takes about 3 hours if there is no traffic jam, no foggy day or no roads blocked due to heavy snow. Taking a fast train from Beijing to Zhangjiakou is a good standby if Jingzhang Expressway is difficult to drive due to the traffic congestion provided that you should prearrange your transport from Zhangjiakou to Wanlong Ski Rrsort. Check out Wanlong Ski Resort for more information.

5) Travel Beijing in Winter
Beijing winter lasts four months from Nov 15 to next year’s March 15. In Beijing, central heating system is provided to warm the people’s house and working place usually starting Nov.15 till March 15 next year. Averages temperatures (Celsius) in Beijing range between -5 and 5 degrees celsius according to the annual Beijing Climate.

Despite the short days and dreary weather, Beijingers have plenty of reasons to go outdoors this time of year. For ice-skating, you don’t have to go very far. Beijing has many parks, most of which have huge expanses of lake surface on which to skate. You are advised to skate on the lakes endorsed by the authorities.

These official ice rinks include Sichaihai lakes, Zhongshan Park, Zizhuyuan Park and No Name Lake at Peking University etc. Most of them will charge a fee for entry onto the ice. They are only opened when the weather to be cold enough and the ice thick enough, usually between late December and February.  Check out How to Visit Beijing in Winter for more information.

2. China’s Top Winter Destinations  for Travelers from “Cold Areas”
Snowbirds, or travelers from “cold areas”  like European countries, when planning their China’s winter tour, they would like to visit some hot areas to bask in sunshine.  We list some warmer places in China in winter for you to plan your winter trip to China.

Beaches in Sanya
Beaches in Sanya

1) Sanya
Sanya is a city in southern Hainan province of China. Covering an area of 1920 square kilometers with 209 kilometers long coastline, Sanya has many natural advantages.

Sanya has bright sunshine, blue water and wide beaches. It attracts many international travelers as can be seen by the many Russian and English signs throughout the city. In recent years Sanya has become a common tourist destination from Hong Kong and other parts of the world. Check out  Top 10 Things to Do in Sanya for more information.

2) Xiamen
Xiamen is a coastal city in Fujian Province of southeastern China. Xiamen and the surrounding countryside are famous for being an ancestral home to overseas Chinese. It became one of China’s earliest Special Economic Zones in the 1980s. Xiamen was recently voted China’s cleanest city, and has many attractions for the tourist.

Xiamen and its surrounding countryside provides spectacular scenery and pleasant tree-lined beaches. The most attractive place should be the Gulangyu Island. Check out Top 10 Attractions in Xiamen.

3) Lijiang
Lijiang is located in the northwestern portion of Yunnan and borders Sichuan. It is in a region where the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau converge.

Lijiang is considered as a place blessed with fresh air, clear streams, breathtaking snow mountains, and an undisturbed landscape inhabited by a friendly group of people. The picturesque Lijiang is abundant in tourist resources through its graceful landscapes, unique ethnic group flavors as well as ancient national cultures.  Check out Top 10 Attractions in Lijiang.

4) Kuming
Kunming is situated in central Yunnan, north of the Dianchi Basin,  the political, economic, communications and cultural centre of Yunnan. The city is nicknamed “City of Spring” due to the fact that it is covers all the year round with the rich verdure of trees and plants.

Kunming serves as the destination for its snowballing tourism with so many places of interest spreading all around the city. Kunming is well known for its beautiful and peculiar, breathtaking and unique natural landscape.  Check out Top 10 Attractions in Kunming.

5) Hong Kong
Once described as a “barren rock” over 150 years ago, Hong Kong has become a world-class financial, trading and business centre and, indeed, a great world city. Hong Kong became Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People’s Republic of China on July 1, 1997.    Check out Top 10 Attractions in Hong Kong for more information.

3. China’s Top Winter Destinations for “Migrant Birds” from either the Cold or Hot Areas”
In winter, travelers from Europe in particular, would like to fly to southeast Asian countries to escape the cold weather in their home countries and bask in sunshine.

On their long-haul flights, many of the European travelers would choose to layover one or two days in China for a brief trip to Beijing, or Shanghai or other 6 cities in China which offer 72-hour visa-free stay to those transit passengers from 51 designated countries.  Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengdu are among the top layover cities in China.  Check out China Visa Free Transit Tour for more information.

Snowing on the Great Wall of China around Beijing
Snowing on the Great Wall of China around Beijing

1) Beijing Layover
Are you going to have a long layover in Beijing? How do you plan to kill your layover time? Just sit in those uncomfortable chairs filling out crossword puzzles or browsing your iphone and spend it holed up at the airport? Why not hop off the plane and take a quick tour of one or two “must see”sights in Beijing – the Great Wall, Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square…? In fact, a layover can be a memorable part of your trip and fun!

If you have a longer layover of 8 – 14 hours, then the Great Wall of China awaits you and you can also select our Beijing layover tours bringing you to other Beijing highlights such as Forbidden City, Tiannamen Square and Olympic sites, etc. Next time you’re stuck in Beijing airport and want to escape the humdrum, book a Beijing layover tour with Tour Beijing! We are eager to meet you at the airport & whisk you away for a quick Beijing tour and get you back in time for your next flight.   Check out Beijing Layover for more information.

2) Shanghai Layover
Shanghai offers Visa-free transit travel for transit tourists from 51 countries to spend up to 72 hours in Shanghai without a visa. This waiving visas policy permits visa free entry for transit travelers with visas and plane tickets to a third country to transit through Shanghai for a visa-free stay of up to 72 hours.

Transit passengers can enter Shanghai through Pudong or Hongqiao airports. The new policy does not apply to travelers arriving by ship or train. Check out Visa-Free Transit Travel to Shanghai for more information.

3) Guangzhou Layover
Guangdong Province (Guangzhou) offers 72 hours free-visa transit stay to those transit passengers from 51 countries including the US, Canada and all members of the EU who will transit in Guangdong with air-tickets for a third country.

Guangzhou has become the third city in China after Beijing and Shanghai. This free-visa transit policy i aimed at boosting local tourism and exhibition industry for transit tourists and business travelers.   Check out Free Visa Transit Travel to Guangdong Province (Guangzhou) for more information.

4) Chengdu Layover
Chengdu 72-hour visa-free transit policy starts from September 1st, 2013, and foreigners who don’t have China visas could stay within Chengdu administrative areas for 72 hours.

Chengdu has become the 4th city in China  After BeijingShanghai and Guangzhou to offer 72 hours free-visa transit stay to those transit passengers from 51 countries who will enter and leave China via Chengdu Shuangliu Airport with air-tickets for a third country. This free-visa transit policy will boost local tourism and exhibition industry for transit tourists and business travelers.
Check out Free Visa Transit Travel to Chengdu for more information.

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