The answer to the question when is a good time to visit depends on what you like to do, everyone has their own preferences like weather, holidays, sightseeing, hotel rates, availability etc. So we will present the various popular times of the year to go complete with the pro’s and con’s of each period.
November – January
The first item to point out: cold and yes perhaps bitterly cold. There are upsides however. Christmas vacation spent here will have all the upsides of home, especially in Western hotels and in malls and public places. Christmas music, decorations trees and the whole Christmas and New Year’s Spirit. What is more rates are very good for International flights and hotels. Many expatriate groups have ceremonies and celebrations too. Most major sites like the Great Wall, Tianmen Square and Palace are open even on Christmas Day. Beware that late January into early February often marks the Chinese New Year. This is a time for travel across the country so many train and bus lines can be sold out.
Weather wise this is considered the second best time to be in Beijing. It has a spring much like North America and Europe and so later in April is better. As the winter thaw takes place it is nice to see the city come to life. Markets, temples and social spaces are full of life. The summer slam of crowds has not yet arrived, so places to tour are not packed with lengthy lines. It is an ideal time to catch decent rates for travel bookings and logistics.
The beginning of this period is Labor Day (May 1) This can be a lengthy holiday with services shut down for almost a week. However tourist infrastructure is kept going mostly by the fact that this is prime time for travel. That can also be a hindrance to good flight, train and hotel rates. This is by far the time when most foreigners are visiting the country: Families, students, backpackers, you name it they are here. Locals as well are out of school and the capital is just as fascinating to non Beijing Chinese as tourists coming from around the world. If you can avoid this time it is probably better, the heat can get serious too at times.
This is the absolute ideal time weather wise to visit Beijing. The season is dry, cooler than summer with clear skies and some fall foliage. October 1 and surrounding days mark National day which may disrupt some public services due to days off. The summer crowds have dissipated to lesser numbers because school is back in session. Putting together the idea weather, lack of holiday disruptions and reduced numbers it can be successfully argued that this is the idea time to visit Beijing. Still hotel rates might not be as good as the colder months, but with so many luxury and mid ranged properties to choose from the price range will be evenly spread.