With a temperate and continental monsoon climate, Beijing has all four seasons, with hot summers and cold winters. The coldest month is January and the hottest July and August when most of the rain falls. The annual precipitation is over 600 mm, of which 75% falls in summer. During the summer, the humidity is high, which emphasizes and gives a great feeling of air pollution. The air in Beijing is certainly not the cleanest, but it is not as polluted as it looks during the summer months. Winters are dry and cold. The difference in temperature between day and night can be really big. Temperatures can reach the peak during the summer and go even above 40°C (104°F), while winter can bring extremely cold weather, with -20°C (-4°F). Such enormous differences are usually explained by the influence of the East Asian monsoon during the hot summers and the influence of the vast Siberian anticyclone that brings such cold winters. However, Beijing is a destination that can be enjoyed at any time.
The best time to visit Beijing
The best time to visit Beijing is from September until October, when temperatures are pleasant, with a little rainfall, and low humidity. Apart from these two, May is also a good month to travel to Beijing. The season for tourists in Beijing is during the winter (January-February) and summer holidays (June-August). The largest crowds during the holidays are in the first week of May (Labor Day) and October (National Day) when the hotels are full, and the tickets for transportation are difficult to get. Crowds on touristic sites are enormous, sometimes almost to a standstill.
Four Seasons in Beijing
Spring (April to May)
Spring is one of the most pleasant seasons in Beijing since both; summer and winter can bring the temperatures to its peak, whether in plus or minus, while spring is mild and enjoyable. Rising and falling temperatures, usually from 11°C to 20°C, are quite characteristic for this season, but it is generally dry, warm, although quite windy due to sandstorms that blow in from the Gobi desert. Since spring is the season when everything in the nature blossoms and gets new shapes, colors and fragrances, there are many sites in Beijing that are best to visit during this period. One such location is Yuyuantan Park with about 200,000 species of plants and The Cherry Blossom Festival, which takes place every year in spring.
Summer (June to August)
The peak season regarding high temperatures is definitely summer, when it can reach even above 40°C. Humidity is also very high, and sometimes it is really hard to go around the city during the summer days. It is also a rainy season, and heavy rainstorms can surprise on sunny afternoons, without any indication. Clothing of light materials, umbrellas, sunglasses and sun creams are something of a crucial importance during the summer days. The climate of the places outside the city is usually much more pleasant, so if you have extra time you should escape the city heat.
Autumn (September to October)
The months of autumn are the most pleasant and most enjoyable months of the year, and the period where even the colors of nature are attraction themselves. It is the harvest season as well, so the rural areas and parks have a lot to offer regarding beautiful plants and colorful leaves. The temperatures tend to be much cooler than those in summer, but it is still quite warm not to be concerned with the layers of clothes. Many activities that are must-do while in Beijing are best to do in autumn, especially climbing the Great Wall. Ordinary activities, such as exploring the city’s streets and hutongs, or just drinking tea in the restaurant are much more enjoyable if done in autumn as well.
Winter (November to March)
If you happen to be in Beijing during the winter season, get prepared to the temperatures that go below 0°C, and to wear coats, sweaters, and boots. It is likely that you will also need some protection for your nose, and caps are quite obligatory too. However, do not be afraid that Beijing is boring during these days. There are many activities that are well organized, such as ice skating in the Beihai Park and over the Kunming Lake at the Summer Palace, since it completely freezes. You can also celebrate a Chinese New Year in the Hutongs, while eating traditional winter food like Mongolian hotpot, which helps a lot in warming you up. With short days and lesser tourists, you will have much better insight in the parts of the city and thus, get the chance to take better photos.