The start of spring brings brisk but not bone-chilling temperatures. Tibet tends to be closed off to tourists due to Tibetan New Year. It’s the rainy season is Guilin and Yangshuo in southwest China. Parts of China, including Beijing, are prone to sandstorms from the Gobi Desert; it’s not uncommon to see a light dusting of sand on virtually everything during a sandstorm. Temperatures in Hong Kong and Macau are cool and comfortable.
Crowds & Costs
China’s high tourist season is generally from spring to late fall, so March is the calm before the hordes of tourists arrive. March 8 is International Women’s Day, which is a popular holiday in China, so expect to see parks and other attractions packed on this day. Peak season on Hainan Island in southern China continues, as winter-weary locals seek sunshine after the long winter. Travel costs for warmer weather destinations like Sanya on Hainan Island are at their peak, but prices in other parts of the country are lower than average post-new year.
Where to Go
Head to central China’s Henan province to learn about Shaolin kung fu at its birthplace, the Shaolin Temple. The moderate temperatures here are pleasant for exploring the nearby Luoyang Grottos. March is also a great time to visit Fujian province, including the seaside town of Xiamen and the round earthen Hakka buildings which are perched in the nearby mountains.
The weather is pleasant in Shanghai, making March a wonderful time to stroll the French Concession, snag a restaurant reservation at one of the city’s hottest restaurants on the Bund, and shop for a new spring wardrobe in Shanghai's designer stores and colorful markets.
What to Do
Use the money you saved by traveling in shoulder season to try your luck in Macau’s glitzy casinos that line the Cotai Strip or place a bet on the horse races at Happy Valley in Hong Kong where its world-famous horse-racing season runs from September to June.
Fewer crowds make this a great season for exploring museums in China’s major cities, including Beijing and Shanghai. It’s also an ideal time to hike the Great Wall and get picture-postcard photos that aren’t populated with throngs of tourists; the same is true for the Terracotta Warriors in Xi'an.
See cherry blossoms, which bloom sometime between late March and late April. It is easiest to see cherry blossoms at Yuyuantan Park and the Summer Palace in Beijing (take the canal ride that cruises between the two spots) and Gucun Forest Park and Shanghai Botanical Gardens in Shanghai. Cherry blossoms also bloom in Dalian, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Qingdao, Wuhan, and Wuxi.
After exploring China's top attractions, relax tired feet with a traditional Chinese tuina massage; massage parlors can be found in cities large and small. The strong massage isn't for the faint of heart, but you will feel like you're walking on clouds afterward and your feet with thank you.
Shanghai Nanhui Peach Blossom Festival. Held in Shanghai's Nanhui District, the month-long peach blossom festival includes folk music, cultural activities, and, of course, stunning views of the blossoming peach trees.
Beijing International Fashion Week. Check out the latest fashions from China’s top designers at this bi-annual fashion week that rivals the fashion shows in New York, Paris, and Milan.
Traveling to China in March? Check out these great itineraries
Beijing to Hong Kong Grand Tour - 12 Days. Travel from Beijing to Hong Kong with adventures in Xi’an and a three-day Yangtze River Cruise along the way.
China Golden Triangle Tour - 8 Days. Visit a trio of China’s most popular cities: Beijing, Shanghai, and Xi’an during this tour that includes visits to Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, and the Great Wall in Beijing, the Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an, and the Bund in Shanghai.
China’s Highlights - 11 Days. Visit Beijing, Xi’an. Guilin, and Shanghai on this tour of China’s most famous attractions, from the Great Wall to the Bund.
Highlights from Shanghai to Beijing - 12 Days. From a Shanghai city tour to Beijing’s Forbidden City and the Great Wall to Xi’an’s Terracotta Warriors, this tour offers a comprehensive overview to China’s top sites.