From climbing the Great Wall to strolling along bustling Shanghai’s Bund River; China offers an experience like no other.
A land of captivating culture, historic landscapes and futuristic developments, China boasts the perfect mix of tradition and innovation; a true country of contrast. One minute, you’ll find yourself exploring the lush rice fields and traditional Chinese villages before venturing to the busy, cosmopolitan cities the next. Each day you spend in China will be different to the one before.
Travel around on the futuristic, high speed bullet trains; visit the thousands of Terracotta Warriors in Xian and challenge yourself to the Great Wall of China; just remember to wear comfy shoes. What’s more, China is deemed one of the best culinary centres on earth, where you’ll get to try everything from fresh street food to Michelin-starred dishes for a feast you won’t forget in a hurry.
Autumns are short in Hong Kong, lasting from September to October. Temperatures are still warm without getting too hot, humidity drops to more comfortable levels, and rainfall is significantly reduced compared to the summer months, although showers do occur.
Hong Kong has enough air conditioning and indoor attractions to make it a great year-round destination. But the weather is at its best from October to April, with less risk of rainfall, lower humidity, and more comfortable temperatures.
Spring is a lovely time to explore Hong Kong. The weather from March to May is warm, humid, and often overcast. May is the hottest month of spring, with showers marking the start of the May to September monsoon.
June to August sees soaring temperatures and humidity levels that will make you thankful for air-conditioning. Meanwhile, frequent thunderstorms and showers bring around 80 percent of Hong Kong’s annual rainfall. Both factors make summer the best value for money.
November to February is the coolest and driest time of year. Days are mild and evenings can be chilly, so it’s a good idea to pack some warmer clothing. Many people consider winter the best season to visit Hong Kong.
Autumn is the best season for many, with more comfortable temperatures, very little rainfall, and plenty of sunshine in September and October. The autumn leaves are stunning, blending from red to gold. November sees rapidly decreasing temperatures, averaging around 10°C.
Our favourite times to see Beijing are April to June, and September to October; before and after the monsoon rains and stifling heat of July and August. June is hot, while the other months enjoy cooler weather ideal for sightseeing.
Temperatures are on the rise in spring. From April onwards Beijing is warm with plenty of sunshine; more than nine hours a day on average. It can be windy at this time, which brings the occasional sandstorm.
June to August is hot, humid, and wet. Beijing encounters around half its annual rainfall in July and August, and temperatures are scorching. Despite the weather, this is peak tourist season. June is cooler, drier, and the most pleasant summer month.
Beijing is bitterly cold in winter. There is very little rain, but snow occasionally settles, giving sights like the Forbidden City and the Great Wall a whole new look. Skiing and bathing in hot spring are popular winter activities in Beijing.
Autumn is one of the best seasons to visit Xian. September and October encounter a mix of sunshine, showers, and comfortable temperatures. November is significantly colder, when locals warm up by running the City Wall Marathon.
Summer is peak tourist season in Xian, but we love to visit in spring and autumn, when the weather isn’t too hot, wet, or cold for sightseeing. March, April, May, and October see the city at its best.
Temperatures increase quickly from March to May, bringing warm sunshine and gentle breezes that make sightseeing a pleasure. Pack a coat in March, and summer clothes by May. Spring sees occasional rainfall and dust storms.
Xian is very hot and humid from June to August, often uncomfortably so. Indoor attractions are a good idea in the midday heat. Summer sees 10 or 11 rainy days a month on average, with July the hottest and wettest month of the year.
December to February is cold and dry with little rain or snow. January encounters the most biting temperatures, dropping as low as -4°C. The traditional Lantern Festival brings colour to Xian City Wall in January or February.
Autumn is one of the best times to visit Shanghai, with enjoyable weather that is neither too hot nor too wet. September sees more rainfall than the rest of the season, and tourist numbers are thinning out by early November.
Shanghai is at its best in the spring and autumn months, avoiding the winter chill and the hot, wet weather of summer. Depending on when you go, temperatures are cool to warm but always comfortable for exploring the city.
Although March is still cold, it’s a comfortable heat for sightseeing. April and May are warmer, with welcome sunshine and occasional rainfall. Cool evenings and gentle breezes mean you will need a jacket or coat.
Summer can be uncomfortably hot and humid in Shanghai, particularly in July and August. This is also the wettest time of year, although the downpours can be a welcome relief from the summer heat.
The winters are chilly and dry in Shanghai. January is the coldest month of the year, with temperatures often dropping below 0°C. December and February are cold, but a little milder, and the city does not see much snow.
Autumn brings dry weather with warm, sunny, clear days. The landscape bursts alive with autumn foliage, making it a good season to see Guilin.
We like visiting Guilin between September and November. The picturesque scenery and sparkling rivers comes alive under the golden autumn light and the days are pleasantly warm and sunny but lacking in humidity.
Guilin has pleasantly warm springs with some sunny days. Temperatures stay quite cool throughout early spring, but warm up quickly towards summer. Monsoon season starts in March (and goes through August) so you will experience rain and humidity in the spring.
Summer in Guilin is hot and humid, the monsoon season extending through to August. The wettest month of the year is June, although you will see plenty of sunny days after that. A heavy haze usually clouds the city by mid morning.
Morning mists rise over the rivers and lakes are accompanied by cloudy, drizzly days throughout the winter in Guilin. The temperature is cool, but not freezing, although the wind chill factor makes it feel colder than it is.
There are a number of carriers offering flights to China from the UK.
Direct Carriers: British Airways, Air China and Virgin Atlantic offer a direct service from the UK.
Indirect Carriers: Emirates Airlines, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Thai Airways, KLM and Air France offer indirect services to China.
Departure Taxes: An international departure tax of CNY120 (approx. GBP8) must be paid at Chinese Airports (unless it is included in your flight ticket price). Taxes on Chinese domestic flights (CNY 50, approx. GBP4) are payable unless included in your flight ticket.
People tend not to expect tipping in China. It used to be refused, but is now becoming more common in hotels, restaurants, and with guides and drivers. Many mid-range and high-end restaurants add a service charge, but cheaper eateries do not expect a tip. Neither do taxi drivers.
Hepatitis A, B, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Typhoid and Malaria immunisation are recommended. Yellow Fever immunisation is required if arriving from an infected country. All travellers should be up to date on routine immunisations. Please contact your GP for the most current information.
British Citizens are required to have a visa to enter China, which you can apply for from the Chinese Embassy in London. Passports must be valid for at least six months beyond your intended stay in China. Please contact the Chinese Tourist Office for up to date country and visa information on 0891 600 188.
The official currency in mainland China is the Yuan Renminbi. In Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Dollar is used. Both currencies can be bought in the UK. You can only take 20,000 Yuan Renminbi in and out of China, but the import and export of the Hong Kong Dollar is unlimited. In China, UK Pounds (excluding Scottish and Northern Irish banknotes) and traveller's cheques can be exchanged at airports, hotels and branches of the Bank of China. The exchange rate is the same everywhere, so there is no need to shop around for the best deal.
Cash is king in China, where credit cards have yet to really take off. You may be able to use your Visa or MasterCard in some places, especially the major cities, but try to carry enough cash as a rule. Cash machines can usually be found in airports, hotels, shopping centres, and banks, as well as in major cities and towns. With better exchange rates than for cash, traveller’s cheques are a good idea if you are visiting the main tourist areas, but may be harder to cash in other parts of the country.