With temperature drops heavily from the beginning of December, which month marks the start of China’s winter, many places spreading this diverse land are going to become colder and colder. While some may ready to escape the cold to some warm cities in the south part of China, a large scale of visitors also ready to embrace the cold destinations full of winter charm! Skiing, snowboarding, snow mountain hiking and the annual Ice & Snow Festival are calling. Besides that, the attraction sites with a big discount on entrance fee await your steps. How can you resist the temptation?
If you also decide to embrace the cold but wonderful China winter destinations, we would like to give you some suggestions about where to go, and thus you can find your best place immediately and plan a winter travel right away! Let’s check out the 10 Best Cold Weather Winter Destinations in China now!
Quick Jump to:
Harbin Ice and Snow Festival
Harbin Sun Island
China Snow Town around Harbin, the No.1 Snow Town in China
Yabuli Ski Resort Skiing Experience
When December comes of a year, Harbin will be a dreaming winter paradise. Its annual grand Ice & Snow Festival, which is one of the four greatest International Ice and Snow Festivals in the World, is really a big allure. A must-visit highlight is the mysterious human-created Harbin Ice and Snow World. Everything inside is made of ice blocks, including its castles, banks, towers, bridges, sculptures, walls, etc. And all of them are in colorful illuminated instead of only in toneless white. Imagine strolling around such an ice kingdom, isn’t it a magical experience to get close to the fairy tales? In addition to the ice works, Harbin Ice and Snow World also displays some vivid snow sculptures. However, all of them are in small or middle size. If you are looking for the most breathtaking snow works, look no further than the Sun Island next to Ice and Snow World. Hundreds of snow sculptures in big or small, including some award-winning works in international competitions, are exhibited there!
Besides the attractions in Harbin downtown, there is another wonderland named China Snow Town. This small town can fulfill all your fantasies about fairy-tale world. And if you happen to visit the town during New Year Festival, the grandest festival in China, you will get a unique celebration atmosphere!
Harbin also has China’s largest amount of ski resorts, among which Yabuli Ski Resort is the largest one in China! If you are skiing fans, you are highly suggested to enjoy thrilling rush there!
Recommended Harbin Winter Tours:
Beijing Great Wall in Winter
Beijing Hot Pot
Beijing Longqing Gorge Ice Lantern Festival
Considering the beautiful snow scenery, cheerful festival atmosphere and discounts on entrance fee, winter is also a great time to visit Beijing. Plus Beijing is one of the best landing cities, many visitors still prefer to travel Beijing in winter!
You must have seen a lot of summer and autumn photos of the iconic Great Wall. However, can you imagine this landmark covered in white? Snow creates unique and spectacular view. All the steps and nearby ridges of mountains are all decorated in beautiful white snow, with only the wall left creeping into the distance. What is more appalling is the absence of crowds (apart from the Chinese New Year), which is rare happen during the rest seasons! You can even build a snowman on the Great Wall, without troubling any other visitors! Near Badaling Great Wall, there is also Badaling Ski Resort for visitors to enjoy fun of skiing!
Winter is also the season to celebrate some great festivals. At Longqing Gorge of Beijing, there will be an Ice Lantern Festival every winter. Similar to Harbin Ice and Snow Festival, Beijing Longqing Gorge Ice Lantern Festival will display dizzying ice sculptures for visitors. Though the celebration venue is much smaller when compared with Harbin Ice & Snow World, it is still an interesting experience to get close to those vivid ice sculptures in dragon, ice castles, and temples there.
After the day travel, do not forget to treat yourself a Beijing Hot Pot meal. Different from the spicy-flavor hot pot in Sichuan and Chongqing, the hot pot in Beijing style cares more about the authentic flavor of the materials. All the food will boil in copper pot with charcoal burning under it instead of iron pan and gas.
Terracotta Warriors in Xian in Winter
Bronze Bamboo-joint-shaped Censer in Shaanxi History Museum
Xian Ancient City Wall in Winter
Being once a capital of 13 ancient China dynasties, Xian has long been a popular tourist destination for Chinese culture lovers, with massive brilliant historical ruins, museums and relics to be explored.
Though winter in Xian is cold, it is usually as pleasant as spring inside the rooms, because every household has connected the indoor heating system. In addition, Xian hosts more appealing indoor activities than outdoor ones, so you will have little worries about the weather spoiling your plans. This famous city is always busy with tourists from home and abroad. However, compared with the rest seasons, Xian is much less touristy in winter. And if you are not a big fan of having to rub shoulders with tourist hordes, why not visit Xian in winter?
Visiting Xian in winter, and then you will have more opportunities to stand at the top of queue to appreciate the ancient army of the first Emperor of China - Terracotta Warriors and Horses. And stroll some of the best museums in China, like Shaanxi History Museum, in peace without stretching your neck to have a glimpse of the relics. It will also be an amazing experience to enjoy biking at Xian Ancient City Wall covered with snow. When you feel hungry, you can treat yourself a bowl of warm dumpling soup at Muslim Quarter.
Winter is also the off season with discounts on entrance fee and the price of hotels. If you ever dreamed of staying right in the center of Xian close to the attractions or splurging on a luxury property, winter is the absolute perfect time to do so.
Recommended Xian Winter Tours:
Yellow Mountain in Winter
Huangshan Stone Monkey Glazing at the Sea in Winter
The winter cold never stops the steps of Huangshan (Yellow Mountain) lovers. On the contrary, part of visitors prefers the winter scenery with stunning snow. Four wonders of Huangshan, including strange pine trees, odd stones, sea of clouds and hot springs are all available in winter. Besides, due to the great temperature difference between layers in the atmosphere, winter create more opportunities to meet with Sea of Clouds and The Light of Buddha!
From every early December, snow begins to spread the Yellow Mountain Scenic Area. While all the pine trees have dressed in shining white rime, the bare and steep rocks never lose its yellow color. With mist flowing in the air, you will be rewarded with ever-changing marvelous scenery. It will be great if you capture the yellow hills from a natural viewing window surrounded by rimes. Once you climb up to upper regions of the mountain and standing higher than the clouds of sea, you will certainly be amazed by what you are appreciating and be grateful of stepping out your bed for such an amazing tour! And if you are attracted by The Light of Buddha in Huangshan Mountain very much, congratulations, you will have bigger chance to enjoy such natural magic in winter. After the hiking tour, never forget to relax yourself at the hot spring situated at the foot of Huangshan Mountain. It must be the best gift to free your tired legs. And if you have one more day in Huangshan, you are highly suggested to add the nearby Hongcun Village into your Huangshan tour. This 900-year-old ancient village is really a must to for Chinese rural village and architecture lovers. In 2000, it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Recommended Huangshan (Yellow Mountain) Winter Tours:
Mount Emei in Winter
Different from winter hiking tours to visit Huangshan (Yellow Mountain) to seek for the natural mountain beauty only, a winter tour to Mount Emei is for marvelous natural scenery, adorable monkeys, skiing and also sacred Buddhist culture! It is really a winter paradise!
While hiking in Mount Emei in winter, surprises are always waiting ahead. It may be a group of lovely monkeys, an adorable squirrel, an elegant pavilion, or a sacred temple. You will hike under trees dressed in dazzling rime and snow and get greets from other visitors. Once you feel tired and want some breaks, you can also play snow fight with your friends.
In the middle of the Mount Emei near Leidongping, you can also find a ski resort to enjoy skiing and snowboarding. And once you reach the Golden Summit, there are two rows of giant golden elephant sculptures waiting for you, from where you are going to explore the profound Buddhist culture and pray for good luck. Sea of Clouds is also prepared. If you are lucky enough, you can even get a majestic view of Mount Gongga - the King of Mountains in Sichuan from a distance.
Soaking in hot springs is somewhat the best option after a snow mountain hiking, and Mount Emei is no exception! There are two hot springs at the foot of Mount Emei, including Hongzhu Hot Spring and Lingxiu Hot Spring. Hongzhu hot spring is a part of the Hongzhushan Hotel. If you want one night stay at the foot after hiking, and then it will be a good choice!
Recommended Mount Emei Winter Tours:
Xiling Snow Mountain in Winter
Xiling Snow Mountain Ski Resort
A famous poem by Du Fu has described “Snow accumulated through thousands years on the west snow mountain could be viewed within a glance from my window. Ships from the Eastern-Wu State of miles away are anchoring at the dock outside the house”. This is the place called Xiling Snow Mountain, located 115 kilometers west of Chengdu City.
Xiling Snow Mountain begins to snow in middle December and the temperatures falls down to 0°C or below. The whole world turns into white - the trees, houses, stone, ground, etc. all covered with snow, like a fairytale world. Xiling Snow Mountain is regarded as the largest ski resort in south of China, providing more than 20 different kinds of activities in ski field. You can try skiing, zorb, snow cubing, snowmobiling, bounce-flying… Travelers can completely enjoy the excitement of ski sports.
After doing the fun activities on Xiling Snow Mountain, it is recommended to enjoy a hotpot when getting back to Chengdu. That’s the perfect way to spend a cold day in these places.
Crystal-clear Haizi with the Decoration of Snow of Jiuzhai Valley
Jiuzhaigou Valley in Winter
With reputations like “the Most Beautiful Waterscape in China” and Word Natural Heritage Site, Jiuzhaigou is really a fairytale land. In Jiuzhaigou Valley, every lake, waterfall, temple, forest and even a tree has its beauty to tell. And its beauties are splendid throughout the year, even in the cold winter days. Winter is also the off season of Jiuzhaigou Valley, so it is less touristy. There is also almost 50% discount on the entrance fee, making it a great choice to visit Jiuzhaigou Valley in winter.
If you happen to visit Jiuzhaigou in winter, you will find that time seems stops there. The dropping waterfalls have all been frozen and hanging in the air. Trees stand quietly, with very little responds to the wind, and so for the lakes, temples and bridges. Only the floating mist and changing sunlight tell you that time is still passing and you are in a real world.
About 150 kilometers away from Jiuzhaigou Valley, there is another popular attraction named Huanglong Valley, which is mainly famous for incredible calcified scenery with colorful travertine lakes and ponds. If your time allows, you are highly suggested to extend your Jiuzhaigou tour to Huanglong for more natural wonders!
Recommended Jiuzhaigou Valley Winter Tours:
Wusong Island in Jilin
Wusong Island in Jilin
As one of the major members of Northeastern China which mostly famous for snow landscape and fun, Jilin never disappoints winter lovers. Skiing, snowboarding, hot springs socking are all available in Jilin. However, what makes Jilin stand out most is its natural beautiful Rime Scenery. Along with the Karst Landscapes in Guilin, Stone Forest in Yunnan Province and Three Gorges on the Yangtze River, Rime Scenery in Jilin is reputed as “China’s Top Four Natural Wonders” amongst which the Rime Scenery in Jilin is the most beautiful one in winter.
When fogs meet cold air, they change to ice crystals attached to tree branches and leaves, and thus forming magic Rime Scenery. When looking from a distance, those transparent ice crystals just like blooming pear flowers decorating the tree. The best place to admire the rime scenery is Wusong Island on Songhua River, where there is a mass of such flourishing trees with blooming rime flowers waiting for your exploration. Besides the great rime scenery, Jilin is also home to some best National Nature Reserves in China. Go further southeast from Jilin to the border of China and North Korea, there is also Changbai Mountain (Changbaishan), a dormant volcano with extremely beautiful natural landscape and great ski resort.
Yuanjiajie Scenic Area inside Wulingyun Scenic Area
Wulingyun Scenic Area
Gorgeous Yellow Dragon Cave
99 Avenue of Tianmen Mountain
Zhangjiajie is mostly famous for its Avatar style mountains in its Wulingyuan Scenic Area (Zhangjiajie National Park included), nowhere else on our planet! Visiting Zhangjiajie Avatar Mountains in summer or autumn with bright sunshine and broad view is, of course, an unbeatable experience. However, the mountain scenery in winter is also appealing. You will see the quartzite rock spires thrusting up from the fog below, with rime decorated the trees on the hill top. The flying snow dances in the air and then gentle kisses the hills, tress, hiking trails and your forehead. You just cannot believe you are in the real world instead of the Floating Pandora of the 3D movie Avatar.
In addition to the Wulingyuan Scenic Area, Zhangjiajie also welcomes visitors with gorgeous karst caves and magnificent human-made wonders like Glass Bridge and 99 winding turns. Riding a cable car to the top of Tianmen Mountain, you will find 99 turned Avenue winding to the distance, which just like a sleeping silver dragon lying there. In a sunny day, it will also be a breathtaking experience to enjoy walking on Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge, the longest glass bridge hanging on 300 feet in the air. When there are heavy snows in winter and outdoor hiking seems unavailable, you can also turn your way to Yellow Dragon Cave to discover the secrets under the ground.
Recommended Zhangjiajie Winter Tours:
Red Rock Shoal at Hailuogou
Hailuogou Glacier Park
Hailuogou Glacier Park in the western Sichuan is the only glacier park in China. It is also the largest scaled and most beautiful glacier among those at the same latitude! Also, few places in the world can introduce such majestic ice glacier as Hailuogou Glacier Park. Glaciers there dramatically plunge more than 1,100 meters across a 1000-meter wide span! It is even more than 10 times larger than the famous Huangguoshu Waterfall in Guizhou, China, which is the largest waterfall in Asia. Visitors are offered opportunities to ride a cable car moving slowly over the glaciers, with grand snow mountains in a distance as backdrop. Mount Gongga, the King of Sichuan Mountains, can be also well views there.
Besides the typical otherworldly glacier scenery, which is certainly a must-visit, Hailuogou Glacier Park also hosts cloud-kissing snow mountains, amazing red rocks, mysterious sea of clouds and enjoyable hot springs. Only one or two days are enough to take all these wonders into your pocket!
Recommended Hailuogou Glacier Park Winter Tours:
To plan a China winter tour is based on what kind of weather, scenery, types of destinations, etc. you like!
For more people first been to China in winter, they prefer to travel to the top classic and popular winter destinations to save more in one go during the relatively low season, such as Beijing (2-4 days), Shanghai (2-4 days), Xian (2-3 days), Guilin (3-5 days), Chengdu, (1-3 days), Yangtze River Cruise (4-5 days), Hangzhou (2-4 days), Suzhou (2-3 days), etc.
For visitors want to enjoy a snow winter tour, you can plan to visit Harbin to see the Ice and Snow Festival in 2-3 days. 2-4 more days to the nearby Yabuli Ski Resorts, China Snow Town and Wusong Island in Jilin are also popular to see snow scenery and play with snow! And a lot of visitors prefer travel from Beijing after the discovery of winter snowy Great Wall. Moreover, you can also spend 3-4 days to Huangshan for snowy Yellow Mountain, 1-2 days to snowy Mount Emei, 1-2 days to Xiling Snow Mountain for skiing fun, etc.
For visitors prefer a warm winter vacation, you are recommended to enjoy 5-7 days in Yunnan to discover Kunming, Dali and Lijiang for pleasant sunny days with ethnic minority culture, or 2-4 days in Xiamen to wander around Gulangyu Island with a side trip to Tulou Cluster, or enjoy the 4-7 days enjoying the Cantonese food and theme parks fun in Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hong Kong, or at least 3 days in Sanya to fully relax your arms and legs, etc. Travel with us to start your coming China winter vacation!
To help you enjoy a worry-free winter trip to China, we highly recommend you travel with us China Discovery. Our local experienced drivers will escort you to the attractions with comfortable car directly with speed and safety. And our English-speaking tour guide will accompany you all the way, show you the best travelling route, and share interesting stories, introduce all highlights, so you can focus all your attention on the highlights. Our experienced travel expert will help arrange your accommodation and plan your trip sincerely. The tour can be tailor-made according to your group size, time, physical condition, plan, interest, budget and every special need. Please feel free to contact us if you need any help!
Start planning your tailor-made holiday to China by contacting one of our specialists. Once inquired, you’ll get a response within 0.5~23.5 hours.Customize a Trip