Make sure you travel to China when the weather is comfortable and when there are no major public holidays.
China is a very large country with a climate that varies from sub arctic in the north east to tropical in the south. Temperatures range from below −38 °C (−36 °F) in Harbin in China’s most north eastern province in winter to 35 °C (95 °F) with a humidity of over 83% in Hong Kong in summer.
To avoid extreme heat and cold, the best time to travel to China is Spring (March to May) and Autumn (September to mid November). You will have the least rain and clearest skies during this time.
To be fair, many parts of China are great to see all year round with Beijing for example delightful to travel in during both summer and winter. Other parts of China are much less hospitable during the wrong time of the year and you’ll either end up clinging to your hotel room’s air conditioner in summer (Wuhan, Chongqing & Nanjing), risking frost bite in winter (Harbin, Changchun & Hulunbuir).
In China, people normally only take time of work during China’s national holidays. This means that once the national holidays arrive, millions of people are all packing their bags and hitting the road at the same time. This enormous scale of human movement is staggering and to give you an idea, during last year’s Spring festival, 221 million people travelled by train. This is the largest migration of people any where in the world.
During this time, train tickets are almost impossible to book, air tickets double or triple in price, hotel reservations are difficult to make and service standards drop horribly and there are crowds every where. If possible, you really don’t want to travel to China during these periods.
The holidays to avoid are
Chinese New Year
This holiday begins on the first day of the lunar calendar, runs for up to two weeks and is the worst time to travel to China. This holiday is traditionally the most important in China where families gather and spend time together. Similar to western Christmas, Easter and the US thanks giving all rolled into one. During this holiday millions of people will travel back to their home towns to be with their family and the country shuts down for a week. Most restaurants and smaller shops will be closed during this period and finding some where to eat and shop can be very difficult.
To celebrate international workers day, most office and factory workers have up to a week off work. No where near as crazy as Chinese New Year but still a good time to avoid being on the road in China.
National Holiday 1st October
This holiday celebrates the founding of the Peoples Republic of China back on the 1st of October 1949 and the second largest holiday. Buying tickets is difficult and expensive and train/bus stations and airports are crowded and hectic. Security in Beijing is very tight at sensitive spots and parade areas such as Tiananmen Square are crawling with police and under cover security. Best to avoid Beijing during this time.
When planning your trip to China, try to come during
-Spring (March to May)
-Autumn (September to mid November)
And not to come during
-First week of the lunar year (normally late January/early February)
-First week of May
-First week of October