Arguably the best time to visit China, the ‘golden autumn’ continues across much of China in October, particularly in Beijing, Shanghai, and Xi’an. The weather is sunny and mild; however, it’s the rainy season is Guilin and Yangshuo in southwest China.
To the west, Lhasa’s temperatures are pleasant. Typhoon season, which most often affects Hong Kong, Macau, and cities along the southeast coast of mainland China like Guangzhou and Shenzhen, continues in October. Travelers need not worry as typhoon activity is most active from July to September.
Crowds & Costs
China’s high tourist season is generally from spring to late fall. The first week of October is National Day holiday, one of three “Golden Week” holidays in China in which many businesses close for a week, so workers can enjoy rest and relaxation.
Trains and buses are filled with workers headed home and national parks and sights are packed with locals taking advantage of the comfortable weather to indulge in sightseeing. Transportation can cost more as the demand for train, plane and bus tickets is high. Avoid traveling the first week of October to avoid crowds and hassles.
Where to Go
The fall foliage in heavenly Huangshan (Yellow Mountain) in Anhui province in eastern China is a must.
Travel to Chongqing and cruise the mighty Yangtze River. Originating in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and ending 3,900-miles (6,300 km) at the East China Sea, the Yangtze River meanders through 10 provinces and nine cities, including Chongqing, Yichang, Wuhan, Nanjing, and Shanghai. Cruising along Asia's longest river is a breathtaking multi-day journey that starts upstream at Chongqing and ends 200 miles (320 km) downstream in either Yichang or back at Chongqing.
Fall is an ideal season to see Pingyan and explore Shanxi’s ancient Zhanglu fortress and Wang family courtyard.
What to Do
See fall foliage like the red leaves of Beijing’s Fragrant Hill. The easy to moderate hike is pleasant thanks to cooler temperatures.
Visit Jiuzhaigou Nature Reserve in the Sichuan province for stunning foliage. Kanas Lake in Xinjiang is also a popular place to peep changing leaves.
It is hairy crab season, so do as the locals do and indulge in hairy crab, which appears on restaurant menus all across China. Harvested in Jiangsu province, hairy crabs are named for their hair-like fibers and don’t actually have hair.
China National Day. Chinese National Day is October 1 and many Chinese travel around the country during this week as it is a public holiday. Go to Tiananmen Square in the capital and watch the fag raising ceremony at dawn.
Mid-Autumn Festival. The Mid-Autumn Festival or Moon Festival is a harvest celebration that includes dining with family and friends and eating savory moon cakes. The festival typically falls in late September but is sometimes celebrated in October.
China Open. The world’s top men’s and women’s tennis players battle it out each fall in Beijing.
Traveling to China in October? Check out these great itineraries.
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 great overview to China’s top sites.
Beijing to Hong Kong Grand Tour - 12 Days. A mix of ancient and modern, this tour includes stops at Beijing’s Forbidden City, Great Wall, and Summer Palace, Xi’an’s Terracotta Warriors, a three-day Yangtze River cruise, and a couple of days in Hong Kong.
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 Ancient Capitals & Yangtze River Cruise - 13 Days. This comprehensive tour includes visits to the ancient capitals of Beijing, Luoyang, and Xi’an plus a stop in Shanghai to explore sights like the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, Terracotta Warriors, Shaolin Temple, the Bund plus a three-day Yangtze River cruise.
Tibet: Train Journey & Everest Base Camp - 11 Days. This tour combines a quick tour of Beijing with ride on the world’s highest railway and a comprehensive Tibetan tour that includes visits to the Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Barkhor Street, Norbulingka, Sera Monastery, and Drepung Monastery in Lhasa, the temples and monasteries of Shigatse and Gyantse, and Everest Base Camp in Tingri.