When to Go in Beijing

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Beijing has four distinct seasons, each with its own benefits and disadvantages. Here is a rundown of the seasons, as well as the local festivals, to help you decide when is the best time for you to visit Beijing.

Spring

Spring is relatively short in Beijing, only lasting through April and May. The temperatures vary greatly from day to day and from day to night. Expect chilly nights requiring a jacket, but overall the weather is extremely unpredictable. There are also frequent sandstorms in the city each spring. However, if local flora is what you wish to see, this is definitely the time to visit. The Cherry Blossom Festival in Yuyuantan Park takes places each year in late March or early April. Buy your tickets in advance, as over 100,000 people flood the park for picnics beneath the beautiful blossoms. Labor Day is also celebrated in the spring, beginning May 1 and lasting for a week.

Summer

If you like the weather hot and humid, then visit Beijing between June and August. These three months are characterized by temperatures between 24 and 34 degrees C. Rain is frequent, and sudden storms have been known to stop traffic. If it's not raining then the humidity is enough to soak you through. Many people retreat to the mountain resorts or Black Dragon Pond, where temperatures are more like 5 degrees C. July and August are the time to see the Tibet Festival, where you can experience Tibetan culture including traditional foods and dancing.

Fall

Like Spring, Fall is relatively short. It lasts from September to October and is probably the most popular time to visit Beijing. The weather is sunny and cool, though it does get wetter and colder as the season moves into winter. This is the time of year when many people venture outdoors to hike through the beautifully colored forests. National Day is a week long celebration that begins on October 1, and showcases traditional Chinese culture in the many dances, parades and decorations.

Winter

Winter is the longest season in Beijing, lasting from November all the way through March. The weather hovers around 0 degrees C, except in January, when it dips to minus 4 degrees C. Despite the cold, the weather is usually sunny and beautiful, with snowfall being quite common, and rain being uncommon. The most famous holiday occurs in winter, the Spring Festival, otherwise known as Lunar New Year. The holiday starts with the lunar calendar, in late January or early February, and ends with the Lantern Festival two weeks later. It's a riot of colors and traditions, with dragon and lion dances, acrobats, fireworks, food, games and red and yellow flags everywhere.

While you may wish to experience traditional China by visiting during the three biggest celebrations, the Spring Festival, Labor Day and National Day, be aware of the drawbacks as well. Most locals will take the time to travel home, thereby making traffic a nightmare. The city also fills with both tourists and locals, so book your hotels and travel arrangements well in advance!

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August 29, 2009 new by tiffanymparker

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