China climate varies in its different regions, due to it's grand size. China spans through several degrees of latitude giving it several temperature zones and has widely varying terrain that influences the climate.
With five main temperate zones throughout the country, different regions experience contrasting climate patterns. Inner Mongolia and the northern section of Heilongjiang Province are within the cold-temperate zone, Jilin and Northern Xinjiang including Beijing and Lanzhou are all part of the mid-temperate zone, then Shaanxi, Shandong, Shanxi and Hebei Provinces are included in the warm-temperate zone. The subtropical zone stretches over cities such as Shanghai, Hong Kong and surrounding areas while the Hainan, Yunnan and Guangdong Provinces are all under the tropical zone. From this layout you can begin to see that different regions each have their own climatic conditions largely a product of the extensive topography of the land.
The climate is characterised mainly by dry seasons, then plagued with the wet monsoons. Central China enjoys four rather distinct seasons while northern regions generally have a longer winters and southern areas although have higher temperatures, are usually inundated with rainfall.
The main rainy months are from May to September in most areas, however regions in the northwest tend to be drier. The main driver of the rains is the monsoons which tend to begin in April or May when the rains pelt down on the southern provinces then moves further north by June. July and August brings the rain to North China before retreating slowly from the country. The only area that really does not get effected by the monsoons is the north western region.
Climate by Area:
North China is known for its extremes in climate with summers hitting close to 40C while the rains also join in. Winters here, in contrast, are very cold often reaching a dismal -20C during the night, while the rains stay away as well as the sun making for an almost unpleasant existence. Spring and Autumn are therefore the best seasons to visit places in the north like Beijing as the temperatures are pleasant during the day, though do drop quite a bit at night.
With long summers characterised by extremely hot temperatures, Central China is home of the three famous ‘furnaces’ of Nanjing, Chonqqing and Wuhan. Again however, winters bring extreme lows that almost match the winters experienced in Beijing. Unfortunately going about daily chores in this cold season isn’t made much easier with the fact that most public buildings are not heated. You can’t beat the climate here as the rains persist throughout the year apart from during summer when temperatures are particularly unbearable. Therefore it is difficult to find the perfect time to visit Central China though spring and autumn would be your best bets.
The majority of Southern China experiences short winters normally only lasting from January to March. Although winter in the south isn’t as extreme as other regions, it is well worth packing the warm coats. Unfortunately summers in the south also bring typhoons especially between July and September therefore like most places, autumn and spring are likely the best times to travel.
While there isn’t really a best time to visit, it is a good idea to stay clear of the absolute extremes as there is nothing worse than traveling while uncomfortable.