Are you planning to travel to China in the heart of summer?
Are you planning to travel to China in the heart of summer?
Summer in China is very hot in most corners of the country, but there are ways you can enjoy the warmest time of year.
In this article, I’ll let you in on what I’ve learned about summer in China, how hot it gets, and what to pack to make the most of the sun.
I’ll also tell you the best places to visit if you don’t want to traipse all over the Great Wall of China when it’s hot enough to fry an egg on the stone.
What’s summer in China like?
China is in the northern hemisphere, so its summer months are the same as North America and Europe, from June to August.
But China is a huge country, so it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that the seasons are very different from one area to another.
Summer temperatures can get quite extreme in many areas, from scorching heatwaves in the north to unbearable humidity in the southern provinces.
So, if you’re not comfortable with that, then you might need to find some cooler areas to spend your time in, or even a different time to travel such as autumn in China.
However, if you have to travel in summer, then you can still have an amazing experience.
Here’s a quick guide for traveling in China in summer:
- The temperature ranges between 77-91°F / 25-33°C across the country
- Temperatures can and will get hotter than the mean temperature range, which can be very uncomfortable if you aren’t used to heat
- Attractions at tourist hotspots are crowded, as many families are enjoying school holidays
- Nature is at its best in summer, so the more rural areas will be amazing
- In the southeast, the summer means some rainy days, so bring your wet weather gear
- Wear shorts, t-shirts, sandals, hats, and use lots of sunscreen.
Blogger Mike has put together a complete list of travel tips for China if you want more help and advice for your adventure.
Summer temperatures in China
Here’s a summary of average summer temperatures in China.
|Beijing (north)||68-86 F / 20-30 C||73-88 F / 23-31 C||70-86 F / 21-30 C|
|Shanghai (east)||71-81 F / 22-27 C||78-89 F / 26-32 C||78-88 F / 26-31 C|
|Guangzhou (south)||78-89 F / 26-32 C||80-91 F / 27-33 C||79-91 F / 26-33 C|
|Chongqing (west)||74-85 F / 23-29 C||79-92 F / 26-33 C||78-91 F / 26-33 C|
As you can see, you’re guaranteed to get plenty of warm and sunny days no matter what part of China you visit.
The dangers of traveling in summer
There are a couple of dangers that you need to be aware of if you’re planning to travel to China in summer.
One is the heat itself. If you aren’t used to it, the long, hot days can be very tiring especially if you’re doing a lot of walking. So, make sure you drink lots of water and cover up with breathable clothing and sun protection.
While I was in Fuzhou, I once made the stupid decision to climb the 2,000 steps up Gushan Mountain in the middle of summer.
I’m used to the heat, but by the end I felt like a melted puddle. Don’t be like me – choose cooler days for your temple climbs!
Another issue is mosquitos. Summer is mosquito season in southern China and these little pests can carry all kinds of diseases including Japanese Encephalitis.
(You can look up the recommended vaccinations for China here.)
While you should be OK in the big cities, if you plan on getting off the beaten path you should bring and wear insect repellent, particularly at dawn and dusk, when the mosquitos are out looking for a bite.
What to pack for summer travel in China
To be honest, you don’t need to pack any differently to enjoy your summer vacation in China than you would for any other destination.
However, there are a couple of things to keep in mind such as:
- Bring sunscreen and insect spray from home if you have sensitive skin as you’ll struggle to find familiar brands in China
- Shorts, skirts and t-shirts are fine most of the time
- China is a bit more conservative than other countries, so avoid really short and tight clothing if you want to avoid getting leered at
- Bring a hat, and even an umbrella (that’s what the locals use to protect themselves)
- Make sure you pack shoes that are good for lots of walking as you’ll be doing a lot of it
- Choose light and loose outfits in natural fabrics for the best cooling effects
- Bring a thin top for evenings or air-conditioned places
- Don’t pack too much as you’ll be able to buy almost everything you need in China
- Wear sunglasses
- If you’re traveling in tropical areas, pack an umbrella, raincoat, and waterproof shoes.
Something else to remember is that southern and even eastern China can be very humid.
In this climate, heavy fabrics like denim will take forever to dry, so if you’re going to need to wash your jeans during your trip, it’s probably better to leave them at home.
I once took jeans on a trip to Hong Kong, and I swear that they were wetter after two days of drying than they had been when I’d first washed them.
Where to travel in summer in China
Like I said, if you don’t like the scorching sun, then there are parts of China that are much more comfortable in the summer time.
There are also some Chinese destinations that are at their best in summer. Here are some places that should be at the top of your list to visit in summer time:
If you’ve ever dreamed of visiting Tibet, then summer is a great time to make that dream come true.
The weather is milder than in most parts of China, so you can enjoy the beautiful scenery, Tibetan culture and local festivals without losing half your body weight in sweat.
Just note that this is the time that most Chinese people come to visit Tibet, as winter temperatures are really biting there.
If you can’t beat the heat, then why not make the most of it?
Despite the fact that China isn’t really known as a beach destination, it does have some great beach locations where you can enjoy the sun, sand, and uninterrupted blue skies.
Some of my best picks for a beach holiday in China are Sanya, Xiamen, Qingdao, and Dalian. And, even though you wouldn’t expect it from a megacity, the beaches near Shenzhen aren’t bad either!
If you only have time for one, then I recommend Sanya. As an Australian, I loved the beachy feel of this destination as well as the cultural sites, especially the Nanshan Cultural Tourism Zone with its lush gardens and sea views.
Being in a city in summer, with all the concrete and metal radiating heat, can be a kind of punishment.
You can escape from the metal ovens of China’s cities by traveling to some of the mountainous areas like:
- Zhangjiajie National Forest Park for the mountains made famous in the movie, Avatar
- Huangshan, which is in Anhui province and boasts some of the most stunning natural scenery in the whole country
- Emeishan in Sichuan province for the birthplace of Buddhism in China (it’s also close to Chengdu)
- Moganshan, which is just three hours from Shanghai and has long been a popular place to escape the city’s heat.
This province is in China’s southwest and boasts spring weather year-round.
This is because the province is located at an altitude of 2,000 meters (6,560 feet). This makes the whole province a great place to escape the summer heat.
Yunnan boasts a unique local cuisine because it’s the province with the largest number of ethnic minority groups in China.
It’s also a global biodiversity hotspot, with amazing animals and more than 600 wild edible mushrooms species. While I was there, I made the goal of eating as many different mushrooms as possible and still didn’t get close to eating them all!
If you aren’t a mushroom fan, then Yunnan also has beautiful natural areas to explore as well as some exciting and historical cities.
Here’s where I recommend you visit:
- Dali for its ancient city and well-preserved Bai Chinese culture and architecture
- Kunming, the capital, and its Stone Forest for the amazing stone formations
- Lijiang for a fascinating Old Town and exploration of the Naxi culture
- Tiger Leaping Gorge for hiking and trekking
- Jade Dragon Snow Mountain for outdoor activities in breathtaking surroundings
- Shangri-La for natural beauty and unique religious monuments.
Most of these places are easily accessible by high-speed train. If you’re traveling independently, you can book your China train tickets here.
Guizhou province isn’t a very popular travel destination, so you can explore without the insane crowds (by Chinese standards).
It’s located in southern China and is very temperate, with comfortable summer temperatures.
When you explore this province, you’ll see and learn about minority cultures that most people have never heard of.
The province also boasts beautiful natural sites such as Mount Fanjing, which has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2018.
When you’re staring across the endless grasslands of Inner Mongolia, you’ll come to really understand what natural beauty really means.
Inner Mongolia is an autonomous region in north China and boasts unparalleled and untouched natural beauty.
Mongolia was one of my dream destinations. As an animal and nature lover, it was amazing to see a place that urban sprawl hadn’t ruined.
And going horse riding across the Xilamuren Grassland and attending the Naadam Grassland Fair were experiences that I’ll never forget.
The trekking and horse riding in this region are simply spectacular, and the weather is comfortable enough for you to enjoy every minute.
You can also take the time to explore the local Mongolian culture and maybe even sleep in a yurt during your stay!
The Yangtze River
What could be cooler than spending summer sailing along a river?
The Yangtze River starts in Qinghai province, in the west, and flows all the way to the East China Sea.
The scenery along the river is gorgeous, especially when it’s seen via a luxury cruise so you can sip coffee or wine at the same time. The river breezes are also perfect for cutting down the summer heat.
There are numerous cruise routes along the river, and depending on which one you choose, you’ll get to see famous sites like White Emperor City and Fengdu Ghost City. And you can enjoy all these beautiful places without having to break into a sweat.
You can cruise the full journey between Chongqing and Shanghai on the river, which takes up to 11 days, or take the more popular option between Chongqing and Wuhan.
I recommend the latter, as the cruise only lasts about three or so days, and you’ll get to see the famous Three Gorges Dam along the way.
Where not to go in summer
If you’d prefer to avoid the extreme heat while you’re in China, then there are a few places that you’ll want to avoid.
Nanjing and Wuhan aren’t very pleasant in summer, and should be at the top of your list of cities to avoid. They’re among the hottest Chinese cities, with long summers and temperatures that rise over 98 degrees Fahrenheit (37 Celsius) on a regular basis.
Chongqing is also super hot, so it’s best to avoid this megacity unless your Yangtze River cruise starts from here.
You should also try to avoid the Turpan Depression in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region. This area is located in far Western China close to the city of Turpan.
This trough is the third lowest depression on earth. It’s also the hottest and driest part of China, with temperatures that often reach over 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 Celsius).
This part of the world gets so hot that it sometimes sees temperatures reaching almost 120 degrees Fahrenheit (49 Celsius). This has led to the Chinese calling the Turpan Depression one of the ‘furnaces’ of China.
Summer in China: should you go?
The best time to travel anywhere can be a contentious idea.
Some people love the sun and will do anything to avoid traveling in the winter cold. While others couldn’t think of anything worse than sweating around national monuments during the summer holidays.
This is part of what makes travel so exciting, because you can adapt it to suit your preferences.
So, want to bake yourself? Then head to the beaches in July like I did, though that was mostly because I was still recovering from China’s colder months and wanted to see the sun.
Prefer more pleasant weather so that you don’t melt into your clothes? Then head for Yunnan where it’s nice and warm but not outrageously hot.
Just remember that there’s no right answer here. The perfect time for you to travel is when you have the time, space and money.
And, China is so large that you can even organize the weather to your preferences!
I hope you liked my article about the summer in China. Next, see how long it takes to fly to China on all major routes.
Discover every Chinese season
I’ve written about all the different seasons in China:
Main image credit: Supplied by Mike Cairnduff. Average temperature figures courtesy of Weather Spark.
FAQ about summer in China
What is the hottest month in China?
July, followed by August then June.
Is July summer in China?
It sure is! The summer months in China are the same as the US and Europe – June, July and August. It’s the hottest time to visit China so make sure you plan ahead.
How hot are summers in China?
China is a huge country so it depends on where you are, but most places can get really hot. In the north, summers are hot and dry, while in the east and south, summers are hot and humid. Average temperatures range between 77-91°F / 25-33°C across the country.
What is the hottest time of year in China?
The middle of the year, from June to August, with July being the hottest month on average.
When is the start of summer in China?
Officially, June is the beginning of summer. However, China starts to warm up in May in late spring.
When’s the best time to visit China?
It’s a subjective answer, but late spring (April to May) and early fall (September to October) are the most pleasant times, weather-wise, to visit most parts of China.