Being such a vast country the climate in China is extremely varied and does go from one extreme to the other. Winter (November to February) can be a bone chilling affair with temperatures in the high north of the country like Harbin for example regularly dropping well below zero – which is great for the popular Harbin Ice Festival which occurs in January. Further south in Beijing it is still a cold winter but not as extreme as further north. Naturally the further south you go the warmer it gets and winter in Shanghai is actually quite bearable. Winter is naturally a time when most tourist attractions are at their quietest, however the annual Chinese New Year celebrations (varies but can be any time between January and March) will see hotels and transportation being stretched to their capacity.
Spring (March – May) and Autumn (September – October) attract similar climates and are often regarded as the best times to visit China. The country begins to bloom in colour with Spring seeing floral explosions in the countryside and in Autumn russet hues take over the trees surrounding the Great Wall and also in some of the major cities. However like Chinese New Year it is advisable to avoid May holiday (beginning of May) and National Day (first week in October) as once again hotels and transport will be hiked in price and very busy plus the popular attractions will be flooded with local Chinese tourists.
Summer (June – August) sees the country basking in high temperatures and long warm days. It is also when a lot of the rain comes. However be prepared for a lot of crowds to descend on the popular tourist attractions – this is when China’s children are on holiday and families and groups from the four corners of the country flock in 1000s to see the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, the Terracotta warriors etc. Despite the hot temperatures it is still a great time to go as long as you are prepared with light clothing, lots of water and a trusty Chinese fan to help keep you cool!