As China covers such a huge area, it is subject to the worst extremes in weather. The land can be roughly divided into the following climatic regions: north and northeast; northwest; central; south; and Tibet.
The best time to visit China is generally either spring (March to May) or autumn (September to early November); see p24 for advice on the best times to visit various OB regions. Climatic information is also in- cluded in each destination chapter.
Winters in China's north and northeast I fall between November/December and March/April, and are very cold. North of the Great Wall and into Inner Mongolia and Heilongjiang, temperatures can drop to -40°C. Summer is hot and dry, and falls roughly between May and August.
China's northwest is very hot and dry in summer, and is as formidably cold as the rest of northern China in winter. In Urumqi, the average high temperature in January is around -20°C, with minimums down to almost -30°C.
In central China, the summers are typically uncomfortable: long, hot and humid. The three cities of Wuhan, Chongqing and Nanjing are called the 'three furnaces', and are sweltering between April and October. Winters are short, wet and cold, and the weather can be miserable.
Hainan, Hong Kong and Guangdong province in the south of the country are hot and humid from April to September, with temperatures reaching up to 38°C. This is also the rainy season, and typhoons are liable to hit the southeast coast between July and September. Winters are short, occurring between January and March; it's not nearly as cold as in the north (Hainan is warm and, apart from the north of the province, Yunnan is pleasant), but you will still need warm clothes as far south as Hong Kong. Kunming in Yunnan is famed for its clement weather. In Tibet you can easily get the impression that all four seasons have been compressed into one day. Temperatures can be below 0°C during the evening and early morning, and can soar to a sizzling 38°C at midday; it always feels remarkably cool in the shade, however. Winter brings intense cold and fierce winds. Tibet is arid, with rainfall scarcest in the north and west.
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