China is one of the largest countries in the world, with six different climates that vary from region to region. Between the hot, monsoon summers and cold, chilly winters, the weather in China can be extreme. This means that you can also expect some amount of snow during the year. However, the start of the snow season, as well as the amount of snowfall, will depend on the region of China.
Does it Snow in China?
China does see snow every year, especially in winter. However, it doesn’t snow everywhere in the country. The northern and western parts of the country see the highest amount of snowfall. But the further south you go (Guangzhou or Shanghai), the warmer the climate, which means snowfall is relatively rare.
But generally speaking – yes, China can get very snowy in the winter!
What is the Weather in China?
Covering over 3.7 million square miles, China is the 3rd largest country by landmass. Due to its size, China’s climate varies drastically depending on where you’re located.
If you’re visiting the northern part of the country, you can expect to experience all four seasons. Summers are hot, humid, and have the highest chance of rainfall.
Cities in the central part of the country (like Beijing) are considerably warmer than those in the north (Harbin). Winters are a drastic change, and snowfall is expected. The average temperature in January is 24°F in Beijing and -11°F in Harbin.
Spring and fall in northern China are the best times to visit. The weather is pleasantly warm with low chances of humidity, rain, or wind.
Southern China includes big cities like Shanghai to the north and Guangzhou to the south. Summers in this region are sweltering hot, with high humidity and an average temperature of 90°F.
Winters in southern China vary. Shanghai can be quite cold, although they are usually dry. Towards Guangzhou, the weather is a bit warmer (around 66°F), making it an ideal time to visit.
Late spring and early summer are monsoon season in southern China, with July being the wettest month of the year. There are also high chances of typhoons later in the summer, especially around the coast.
In southwestern China, you’ll find the provinces of Sichuan, Chongqing, Yunnan, and Guizhou. The weather varies by province. For example, summers in Chongqing are scorching hot, while Sichuan sees more mild climates. On the other hand, Yunnan is one of the warmest regions.
Compared to western China, winters are relatively warm, with the only exception being in the mountains. In the winter, it’s common to see snow and icy due to the high elevation.
The off-the-beaten-path region of Western China sees some of the most extreme climates in the country. Winters are cold and long, with low temperatures starting in October and lasting until early spring.
Snow is also guaranteed, especially in the mountains around Tibet and Xinjiang. If you’re planning a hiking trip, it’s best to come during spring or fall, where you’ll get to experience clear skies and mild temperatures.
The cold winters are starkly contrasted to the hot summers, which are very humid and rainy, especially in July and August. In fact, western China sees the most extreme temperature differences out of any region in China.
Where Does it Snow in China?
China is an incredibly large country which means weather conditions vary by region. Some provinces see snow half of the year, while others will never experience a single flake.
Affectionately referred to as “Ice City,” Harbin is one of the coldest places in China. The long, cold winters start in October and end in late spring. Snow is possible throughout the entire season, although it’s only a few inches each year.
The best time to visit is during the annual Ice and Snow Festival, a magical display of ice castles, snow sculptures, and colorfully illuminated bridges, buildings, and parks.
However, the snowiest area in China is 175 miles from Harbin. Zhong Guo Xue Xiang is located in the mountains of Heilongjiang province and is famous for its beautiful snowy winters. This small village sees an average of 78 inches of snow a year.
The town also happens to be a popular tourist attraction (you don’t see heavy snowfall like this anywhere else in China).
Snow in the south is rare, although you’ll likely see it if you venture up the Yellow Mountain, otherwise known as Huangshan. During the winter, the towering pines, jagged cliffs, and bubbling hot springs are covered in a thick sheet of snow.
The mountain regions in central China can also see a fair amount of snow, especially in the Sichuan province. Head to Xiling Snow Mountain, the Zhanjiajie National Forest Park, or the Bipenggou Valley.
You can also visit Hailuogou Glacier Park, the only one of its kind in China. Here, you’ll find snow-covered peaked, icy waterfalls, and of course, massive glaciers.
When Does it Snow in China?
In China, snowfall is most common during the winter. December, January, and February are the coldest times of the year, which means snowfall is possible (and almost guaranteed) in many parts of the country.
However, some parts of the country see snowfall earlier than others. For example, the north-eastern city of Harbin starts getting snow around October (around .3 inches). Beijing may also see some snowfall at this time, although it’s less common and very light.
But generally speaking, most of the other regions in China will get their first snowfall in December or early January.
Where are the Ski Resorts in China?
With many parts of the country experiencing heavy snowfall in winter, it’s no surprise that China is a great destination for winter sports. Skiers and snowboards are spoiled for choice when it comes to mountains.
Most of the resorts are located in the northern region around Harbin, Beijing, and towards Inner Mongolia and western China.
The largest ski resort in China is Yabuli. It’s located in the Changbai Mountains and can be reached in 2.5 hours from Harbin.
It’s the training facility for the Olympic winter teams, making it a popular attraction for locals, tourists, and aspiring athletes. There are 49 different trails (most are intermediate, although there are a few for beginners and advanced skiers as well).
Not far from Beijing sits another excellent ski resort – Nanshan. It features 3 miles of snowy slopes and 13 different chair lifts. With beginner-friendly trails, it’s a popular choice for day-trippers seeking an escape from the bustling city. Other resorts near Beijing include Huaibei Ski Resort, Zhangjiakou Wanlong Ski Resort, and Zhangjiakou Thaiwoo Ski Resort.
China has the largest climate difference of any country on the planet. With wet, humid summers and dry, freezing winters, you can experience a wide range of weather conditions every month of the year.
That means you can also expect to see snow, especially in the northern or western regions of the country. China may not be the first country you think of when you picture a winter wonderland, but the snow-capped mountains, frozen lakes, and icy glaciers are beautiful in their own right!