Winter in China, which lasts from December to February, is a great time to travel to China: low cost, fewer tourists, and amazing scenery.

Do not let the cold winter in China in winter prevent you from exploring this exotic country! There are many places to choose in this country: whether it is a white snow paradise in the north, or a warm tropical zone in the south. From fabulous ski resorts to rural areas, historical sites to modern buildings, this article will recommend you some attractions and events you can explore in winter in this country.

Winter in China

The Great Wall in winter in China
The Great Wall in winter in China

As this country is really vast, winter in China will offer you different experiences in different regions. Winter can be extremely chilly in the northern side of China (Harbin, Beijing). The degree can drop to -40 degrees Celsius in the northernmost point. However, you will be rewarded with amazing glacier and snow views when traveling to this region in China. It is undoubtedly the real-life scene of the Pixar’s famous movie, Frozen.

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In the middle part of China (Xian, Chengdu, Shanghai), winter is shorter, but it is as harsh as the north.  On the contrary, Southern China (Hong Kong, Kunming, Guilin) experiences even shorter cold season (around 2 months) and much warmer. Despite the weather, it is an attractive time to travel to China since all places will be less crowded and you can enjoy all services at lower prices.

Events and Festivals during Winter in China

Lhabab Duchen Festival (October or November)

Lhabab Duchen Festival
Lhabab Duchen Festival

Lhabab Duchen, or Buddha Sakyamuni’s Descent Day, is one of four significant Buddhist events which is related to four events in the Buddha’s life, according to Tibetan traditions. This festival occurs on the 22nd day of the ninth lunar month and it is celebrated in many regions and countries such as Tibet, Myanmar, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Bhutan. Lhabab Duchen Festival commemorates Buddha returning to earth after going to the 33 Heaven at the age of 41. On this occasion, local people paint the outside of their houses or the temples to greet the Buddha’s return. People also come to temples, burn incense and do good deeds at the festival.

Palden Lhamo Festival (November)

Palden Lhamo Festival
Palden Lhamo Festival

The Palden Lhamo festival takes place on the 15th day of the tenth lunar month in the Tibetan region. This festival is dedicated to a deity called Palden Lhamo, who is thought of as a female deity. That’s why this festival is also known as the ‘Women’s Festival’. At this festival, women and girls dress up to make pilgrimages in temples and ask for money from men to donate to the fairies. A great place to observe this festival is Barkhor Street in Lhasa where you can see many famous religious and historical buildings, as well as a lot of women dressing beautifully.

Winter Solstice (21st or 22nd December)

Winter Solstice (Dongzhi festival) falls on December 21st or 22nd every year. Opposite to the Summer Solstice, this is the time when the night is longest and the day is shortest. In the past, Winter Solstice used to be an important event but now it is the time for family gathering and enjoying traditional dishes. In Northern China, since the weather is chilly and freezing, people eat high Yang food on that day which can help their bodies suffer from the temperature. They make fatty dumplings and other dishes containing Yang herbs like ginger and garlic. In Southern China, Tangyuan, which is glutinous sweet rice balls, is made on Winter Solstice.

Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival (December to February)

Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival
Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival

This is an annual winter festival which happens in Harbin, the largest city in the northeast region of China. Now it is the largest ice and snow festival in the world. Depending on the weather, the starting and finishing of Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival vary annually. Attending the festival, travelers can have a chance to admire extraordinary snow sculptures and ice architecture exhibits and enjoy exciting winter sports. Do not forget to bring thick arctic clothing and sunglasses when traveling to this place.

Recommended Places to Visit during Winter in China

You need an extraordinary option to enjoy snow scenery rather than Switzerland? It sounds strange but you can fully experience all winter activities in China, plus discovering the exotic culture and stunning culinary delicacy of this country.

Harbin

Harbin - Best place to see winter in China
Harbin – The best place to see winter in China

Located in the northeastern side of China, Harbin is the capital of Heilongjiang Province. Despite having a short history of 110 years, the city itself is a metropolis of over 10 million people. Harbin is undoubtedly on every tourist’s bucket list when traveling during winter in China: stunning snow scenery, magnificent ski resorts, and of course the annual Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival! Do not miss this chance to take photos of the tallest ice edifices, icy towers, giant castles, and mysterious sculptures. The lighting effects of this festival are also memorable with dazzling LED lights.

Besides skiing and snow, this city draws tourists’ attraction because of its combination of Russian and Chinese culture and architecture. You can see this in many attractions such as the Central Street, which was once known as the Chinese Street, and St.Sofia Orthodox Church, the largest Orthodox Church building in the Far East. Travelers can also purchase imported Russian products like Russian dolls, chocolate and other souvenirs at Chinese Russian Market.

Jilin

Jilin Rime - Winter in China
Jilin Rime

Just 260kilometers southwest of Harbin, Jilin’s Rime Island is famous its frost flowers and ice-rimmed trees. Together with natural scenery in Guilin, Stone Forest in Yunnan, and the Three Gorges of Yangtze River, Rime Island is acclaimed as ‘China’s Top Four Natural Wonders’. The rime is a special formation of nature. It is neither ice nor snow; rime is formed when warm and moist air reaches objects at freezing temperature.

In other places, this is a rare occurrence, but it is an annual event in Jilin thanks to the water vapor from the Songhua River. This river stays warm in winters because of the Fengman Hydropower Station in the upriver. Zengtong Village and Hantun Village are the two best places on the island to see the rime.

Chengdu

Xiling Snow Mountain
Xiling Snow Mountain

Chengdu is undoubtedly famous for adorable pandas and special Sichuan cuisine. However, did you know that there are many ski spots you can try outside the city centre? 95 kilometers from Chengdu, Xiling Snow Mountain is not only a great site for skiing but also a habitat of giant pandas. Xiling Snow Mountain Ski Resort, this country’s largest and most successful ski resort, is a must-visit destination for ski enthusiasts during winter in China. You can also immerse in the magnificent scenery of forests, waterfalls, and cloud sea, and discover the life of pandas here.

165 kilometers from Chengdu, Mount Emei is one of the four mountains in China sacred to Buddhism. It was renowned by UNESCO for its natural landscape and Buddhist heritage, but did you know that Mount Emei is also a great place for skiing? After a sightseeing tour around temples and pagodas in the area, consider spend time at Emeishan Ski Resort. Emeishan Ski Resort is well-known as a family-friendly ski destination where skiing areas are divided into different skill levels and safety amenities are well-equipped.

Xishuangbanna

Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden
Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden

If you are fearful of being cold and just want to relax in a warm place, head to the south of China! Endowed with a tropical rainforest climate, Xishuangbanna is rich in biodiversity and it is inhabited by Dai, Hani, Lahu, Blang, Jinuo, and nine other ethnic groups. Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden is the treasure of this city. Founded in 1959, this place is now the home to around 1,400 tropical plants. Most of the plants are so precious that you cannot find anywhere else.

Other attractions in Xishuangbanna are Manting Imperial Garden, Dai Ethnicity Park, Wild Elephant Valley, and Jinghong Buddist Temple. Do not forget to try the local fragrant bamboo glutinous rice and roasted fish.

Hong Kong

Victoria Peak - Hong Kong Travel Guide
Victoria Peak – Hong Kong

Considered as a cosmopolitan city in Asia, Hong Kong’s culture is a combination of Chinese tradition and Western influence. Hong Kong used to be colonized by the British and not until 1997 was it returned to the Chinese government. From a small farming and fishing village back in the 1800s, this city transforms completely into one of the busiest trading and financial centers of the world. Located in a subtropical region, this city’s weather is mild and pleasant with cool and dry winters, which is suitable for you to visit any time.

Not only is Hong Kong famous for being the shopping paradise in Asia, but this dynamic city will also delight you with colonial aspects and a fusion of various cultures. You can admire the whole luxurious view of this metropolis via Victoria Peak and Victoria Harbor. If you travel with your children, do not forget to include Hong Kong Disneyland and Ocean Park on your tour to China. Dim sum, the local delicacy of Hong Kong, will be a feast to your senses.

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