Asia: When is the best time to visit China?

Sometimes rainy and misty weather isn't a bad thing in China

When is the best time to visit
China - especially its waterfalls?

Well, it is a very big country that covers a variety of climate zones such as:
  • subtropical and tropical rainforests to its southern borders with Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam
  • Tibetan Plateau to the west which is typically dry but can be bitterly cold thanks to the high altitude
  • desert expanses dominating the north and northwest
  • Siberian climates covering the far northeast of the country

But one thing that seems to be surprisingly consistent throughout the country is the timing of the precipitation. That is, the country pretty much experiences rain to varying degrees mostly from mid- to late May through August and sometimes into September.

So the country gets monsoonal rains with the potential for flooding throughout the southern portions and even central portions of the country, it sees rain and some snow on the far northeast of the country, and also sees rain to augment some of the snowmelt in the Tibetan plateau and other alpine mountains nearby.

And even though temperature-wise Spring and Autumn are the best times to visit China, Spring is actually a pretty lousy time for waterfalls (trust us, we've done it!). Couple that with some of the environmental deterioration and water diversion schemes and even some of the permanent waterfalls have either disappeared or become seasonal (e.g. Diaoshuilou Waterfall).

Spring is not a good time to see Changbai MountainIn contast, autumn not only yields nice colors, but also benefits from being just past the peak of the Summer rains. In some places like the deep south, late Summer provides the greatest volume of water while you might get more agreeable weather in the far northeast in a narrow window between late September and October. So the details of specific regions may change, but in general, late Summer and especially Autumn are ideal times to go. In fact, I wish we could redo our whole first trip over again in the Autumn. That's how much I think Autumn is the best time!

As for the other seasons, Winters are bitterly cold in the north. They're also dry thanks to the dry Siberian gales. As for the south, that's when the temperatures and the weather are their most comfortable. But waterfall in the falls noticeable diminishes.

In the Summer, as stated earlier, Summer rains dominate much of the country. Howver, in the tropical southern regions and up the coast, there is the risk of typhoons, which can wreak havoc with transportation schedules not to mention the safety issue of flooding and high winds.

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