• ~ mins read

The Chinese countryside turns lush green in May, thanks to April rain showers. It’s the last month of spring, but some parts of the country are already experiencing warm weather. May in China is also the beginning of the high tourist season. Nanjing, the ancient capital of the Ming dynasty, attracts crowds because of its pleasant weather. Conditions are also perfect for hiking the Great Wall, dreamily drift on a bamboo boat on the Yulong River, cycle on Xi’an’s 14th-century walls, and watch playful giant pandas in Chengdu. Read on to find out more about the weather and things to do during your trip to China in May.

perfect tailored itinerary
  • Fablo
5 - Excellent
“This is a company you need for an “all inclusive” trip in China. Emily arranged for u...” Read More
View Incredible Tours in China

China Weather in May

The skyline of Beijing in China in May.
Beijing experiences dry weather in May, which is excellent for outdoor city adventures.

In May, China generally experiences low heat and humidity. Beijing and northern China tend to be drier and have comfortable temperatures. The rainy season in southwest China winds up in May, but Lhasa is still pleasant. The weather in Shanghai and Xi’an is pleasant, but sudden spring showers cannot be avoided. The average high temperature in Nanjing in May is 25°C (77°F), while the average low temperature is 16°C (61°F). The average high and low temperatures in Chongqing are 28°C (82°F) and 20°C (68°F), respectively. The weather in Beijing in May is moderate, with temperatures ranging from an average high of 26°C (79°F) to an average low of 14°C (57°F).

Weather in China in May - Rainfall and Temperatures

  Avg Daily (°C/°F) Avg Nightly (°C/°F) Avg Rainfall (mm)
West China (Ürümqi) 23/73 11/52 39
North China (Beijing) 26/79 14/57 34
East China (Shanghai) 25/77 17/63 85
South China (Shenzhen) 30/86 24/75 237

Why Visit China in May

Sweet white buns in a wooden case in China in May.
Cheung Chau Bun Festival is celebrated to pray for safety from pirates.
Cliffs with greenery on a sunny day in China in May.
If you are in the mood for some adventure, you can try rock climbing in Guilin.

Though May is part of the high season, the peak rush of tourists starts in June. Here’s what makes May such a good month to visit China.

  • More places to visit: The last stubborn bits of lingering bitter cold are over by May, making the entire country comfortable to travel. So, you have many more places to choose from in this continent-sized country.
  • Great outdoors: Embrace the great outdoors in May. From rock climbing in Yangshuo and hiking in the Three Gorges to cycling around Qinghai Lake and climbing Longji’s famous rice terraces, May is full of outdoor pursuits.
  • Northern Odyssey: It is too cold to travel before late spring, but north China is more welcoming in May. Some well-known destinations include Harbin, which has a distinct Russian feel; Pingyao, a well-preserved historic town; and the beautiful Xilamuren Grassland near Hohhot in Inner Mongolia.
  • Spring festivals: The Great Wall Marathon, a 42.1-kilometer (26.2-mile) run in which runners climb thousands of steps as part of the race, is one of the standout events in China in May. Cheer the athletes as they compete in the race of their lives. Check out the popular Cheung Chau Bun Festival if you’re in Hong Kong in May. A key event of the festival is the bun race, where participants climb giant bamboo towers and try to grab as many buns as they can.

Where to go and what to do

Aerial view of Jiming Temple and Zifeng building in Nanjing on a sunny day.
Nanjing is famous for museums and historical sites.

In May, the exquisite Longji rice terraces are a major tourist attraction during a trip to Guilin in South China’s Guangxi Region. Also, visit Jiangtouzhou, a charming village with cobblestone streets and ancient stone houses. Spend some quiet hours around Rong Lake, which has a pleasant walking track that passes through scenic gardens with ornate bridges. Cruise the Li River from Guilin to Yangshuo. Along the way, you’ll see rice paddies, bamboo forests, jagged mountain peaks, fishing communities and grazing water buffalo.

Nanjing in Jiangsu Province is one of China’s oldest cities and is full of striking monuments and impressive museums, such as the sprawling Nanjing Museum, which houses over 430,000 historical artifacts, including ancient drawings, earthenware, and porcelain. The most iconic attraction in Nanjing is the Ming Xiaoling Tomb, the mausoleum of the 14th-century founder of the Ming dynasty, Zhu Yuanzhang. Also, visit the Linggu Temple complex, which is home to the Beamless Hall and is built out of brick and stone.

An economic powerhouse of western China, Chongqing is a sprawling metropolis with a rich cultural history. Visit the elegantly restored buildings in Huguang Guild Hall, a lovely museum complex that was once a community space for immigrants from other provinces; Chinese opera performances are regularly held here. Explore the impressive Baiheliang underwater museum, containing a 1600-meter-long rock ridge with old inscriptions of poems and calligraphy. Head to the Shapingba district, with its restored Ming-era structures, to see what old Chongqing looked like.

Need Help Planning a Trip to China in May?

A May holiday in China is an ideal time to explore this vast country before the summer heat makes travel uncomfortable in some areas. From river cruises and royal palaces to remarkable museums and rousing outdoor adventures — an exciting journey awaits you in China in May. Our local travel experts will help you plan a tailored trip to China according to your requirements.

Published by Tim Green, updated on March 15, 2024

Related Articles

Plan a trip to ChinaWe offer different tour types. You can also chat with a local travel specialist if you want a customized tour to China.
  • Ruby Zhao
    Ruby ZhaoTravel Expert in China
  • Cindy Wang
    Cindy WangTravel Expert in China
Our travel experts are recommended by:
  • BBC
  • Independent
  • Lonely Planet
0 COMMENTSWe welcome your questions or comments to this article. Our travel experts will respond within 48 hours.