When you’re planning what to wear while you’re travelling in China, it’s very important that you’ve got a good idea of what to expect from the weather during your trip.

China is massive and as such the climate can vary between destinations. What you pack for a week-long July holiday in Yangshuo is going to be totally different from the stuff you’ll need if you’re hiking the Great Wall in November.

There are a couple of things to keep in mind no matter when or where you’re going though. Dust storms are common in the interior and north (even in cities), which means you should avoid light coloured clothing or anything you don’t want to get dirty.

While disposable dust masks are for sale everywhere in China, including at the airports, we recommend buying a washable cloth version before your trip as they are better for the environment.

Comfortable walking shoes are also a must for anyone travelling to China, as many of the ancient landmarks and attractions will require you to be one your feet for long periods of time.

Click here to read more about weather in China

What to pack if you’re travelling in China in summer

Generally speaking, if you’re travelling in summer (June, July and August) you can expect it to be hot, hot, hot – no matter where you are. When packing, make sure you've a couple of hats, loose-fitting pants and t-shirts and some long-sleeve shirts for extra protection from the sun.

If you’re travelling in the Chinese interior (Chengdu, Hunan, Xi’an) the summer weather will usually be dry, but if you’re near the coast (Shanghai) or in the south (Yangshuo) you can expect some summer storms. It's a good idea to pack a lightweight raincoat and waterproof shoes if you're in either of these regions. 

What to pack if you’re travelling in China in winter

If you’re planning to explore China in winter (December, January and February), you can expect it to be anything from chilly to freezing, depending on where you are. Be sure to pack warm clothes for sleeping (thermals are a good idea), thicker socks and at least two lightweight fleeces (in case one gets wet) even if you’re travelling in the south. Even in areas like Yangshuo, temperatures in January can drop to around 6°C (43°F) at night.

If you’re travelling in the interior or north of China during winter, you should pack all of the above plus a few extra thermal layers, warm gloves, a scarf, waterproof shoes and a warm jacket. Remember that it’s not unusual for Beijing temperatures to drop to -8°C (18°F) in the middle of winter and Xi’an sometimes get snow in January.

What to pack if you’re travelling in China in autumn and spring

Heading to China in autumn (September, October or November) or spring (March, April and May)? Let’s talk layering and how it will be you best friend.

In interior and northern destinations like Beijing and Xi’an, autumn and spring temperatures can swing from mild and comfortable 20°C (67°F) to a cold 7°C (45°F), so packing lightweight items that can be layered up and stripped off as needed is a good idea. You should also include a warm jacket.

There are some areas in the south and on the coast where the shoulder season is mild and pleasant. Yangshuo, for example, gets plenty of days that hover around 22°C (72°F) in spring and autumn and the temperature rarely drops below 16°C (60°F), even in late November. Your best bet is to pack mainly lightweight layers and a fleece just in case you need it.

See our ultimate packing list for a more comprehensive list of items you should bring on your trip to China.

Woman wears layered clothing in tea plantation in China

Click here to return to China FAQs

Our tours in China

9 Days From 1740

Travel between Shanghai and Beijing, visiting the Great Wall and Terracotta Warriors...

20 Days From 5420

Travel through Russia, China and Mongolia on this 20-day tour. Ride the Trans-Siberian...

23 Days From 5945

Explore China, Mongolia and Russia on a journey from Beijing to St Petersburg via...

12 Days From 1900

Discover China’s northern hotspots with Intrepid on a 12-day Lonely Planet Experience...

12 Days From 3215

Discover China and the tantalising sights, culture and food of Beijing, Chengdu, Xi'an...

Tailor-Made trips

Take two or more on an exclusive trip and tailor your itinerary

16 Days From 4405

Travel to China, Mongolia and Russia on the Trans-Siberian Railway from Beijing to...

32 Days From 8365

Embark on an epic 32-day Silk Road adventure through China, Kyrgyzstan and into...

19 Days From 4580

Travel to China and tour Beijing, visit the Great Wall of China, see the Terracotta...

20 Days From 3480

Tour through Beijing, Xi’an, Shanghai and Hong Kong to experience the Great Wall of...

12 Days From 2150

Discover one of China's most culturally diverse provinces – Yunnan. Hike through jaw...

12 Days From 4090

Travel to the Land of the Dragon and explore Beijing, Xi'an, Yangshuo, Chengdu and Hong...

12 Days From 3895

Spend 12 days exploring northern China from Shanghai to Beijing, including Luoyang, the...

12 Days From 1692

From Great Wall to Terracotta Warriors, pandas to picturesque Yangshuo, this 12-day...

15 Days From 3930

Retrace the path of the ancient Silk Road from Beijing to Xi'an, Zhangye and Turpan...

9 Days From 1425

See the best of South China with Lonely Planet and Intrepid on a nine-day adventure...

7 Days From 1810

Come on an active adventure that takes you to hiking the Great Wall of China, cycling...

41 Days From 11355

Embark on an epic 32-day Silk Road adventure through China, Kyrgyzstan and into...

9 Days From 1910

Experience the eclectic allure of China on this adventure from Hanoi to Kunming....

11 Days From 5795

Traverse through the mountainous beauty of Tibet. Beginning in Kathmandu, explore Lhasa...

12 Days From 3105

Embark on a 12-day adventure from Beijing to Hong Kong, exploring key highlights...

15 Days From 5430

Cross from Beijing to Kathmandu on an epic overland journey, seeing the temples and...

5 Days From 1545

Brave the sub-zero temperatures of Harbin and you’ll be rewarded with the most...

16 Days From 5440

Take an active adventure hiking the Great Wall of China, cycling Old Beijing, learning...

9 Days From 2785

Enter a world of both natural wonder and big city glamour. Admire the majestic beauty...

29 Days From 5430

Embark on a 29-day natural escape to northern Vietnam and southwest China, passing...

20 Days From 3985

From the hundred-year old Hani people's rice terrace to the jaw-dropping Tiger Leaping...

18 Days From 3245

Explore the best of rural China and Vietnam on this 18-day adventure including Yuanyang...

13 Days From 3215

Get a taste of China on this cultural and ice-filled adventure.