Where to Travel in China in Spring

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The winter’s frost has melted, spring bulbs and buds are ripening, preparing to bloom, and the peak-season crowds are still in hibernation. Spring has arrived, and with it, the perfect time to travel China. The only question is, where to go.

As a company who specializes in highly customized travel, it would be remiss of us to give you a straight, one-size-fits-all answer. Because, we know, the best trips are the ones that are tailored to you. Your interests, your needs, your passions.

Are you a photographer looking to capture China’s annual rapeseed spectacle, swathes of yellow blanketing the countryside, punctuated here and there by the spike of a karst peak? Or maybe you’re a tea enthusiast, keen to experience the harvest, plucking your very own leaves and seeing them through to the most satisfying cup of tea you’ve ever drunk? Or, potentially, it’s finally the time to tick Tibet off your life bucket list, the plateau freshly thawed and ripe for a tourist-depleted journey of exploration?

Whoever you are. Whatever you’re into. We’ve got you covered. You just tell us where you want to go, and we’ll do the rest.

Mei running in her hometown, Dali, Yunnan, spring 2015
WildChina founder, Mei Zhang, running in her hometown, Dali, Yunnan, spring 2015

March

March marks the dawning of spring, and with it, the first flowers of the year. One particularly stunning bloom, famed across all of China, is the annual rapeseed spectacle. Huge swathes of fields transform into a vibrant yellow, sweeping the landscape for as far as the eye can see. This spectacular sight is highly treasured and somewhat short-lived, as the flowers will wilt when summer comes, and hence be harvested for their oil, which is used in traditional Chinese cooking. Yunnan, Jiangxi and Anhui are prime places to head for rapeseed viewing.

Beyond flowers, spring means many things, but in China, first and foremost, it means tea. Along the east coast, the tender tea tips are at the perfect point to be harvested, and tea plantation owners will be doing just that. For tea enthusiasts, this is a perfect time to travel to Zhejiang or Fujian to experience the vibrant tea harvest season first-hand.

Where to Travel in China in Spring
Tea harvest in Hangzhou, Zhejiang

April

April in Hangzhou is a very special time for Longjing (Dragon Well) tea in particular. Where many teas are harvested several times throughout the year, Longjing tea is only harvested once per year, in spring, when the tea buds are at their pinnacle state for picking.

To the southwest, in Guizhou, April is also the time of the Miao Sisters’ Meal Festival. The festival is centered around love and features brightly colored rice, inside which, small symbolic items are hidden. The local Miao don traditional clothing and gather for a long-practiced festival of love, giving, and of course, parental approval.

Where to Travel in China in Spring
Western Xia Imperial Tombs, Ningxia

May

May is one of the best months to travel in China – poised between winter and summer, temperatures are pleasantly temperate just about everywhere.

Ningxia fits this bill particularly well, as a place with frigidly cold winters and brutally hot summers, the mild warmth of May provides a perfect environment for exploring the rich geology and, of course, sipping on a glass (or two) of the region’s award-winning wines. This is also around the time that the wineries start digging up their vines. Never heard of this before? Well, that’s because it’s specific to places with large seasonal temperature swings, like Ningxia. Every year the wineries have to literally bury the vines to keep them from freezing over winter, unearthing them again in the spring.

May is also a great time to visit Tibet, the icy freeze of winter freshly thawed to reveal a colorful dotting of hearty flowers covering the plateau, their only threat the hooves of stray yak, sheep and other Tibetan beasts. During May tourist numbers are waxing, but still not at their peak (mid-summer), yielding a warm journey free of excessive crowds.

Where to Travel in China in Spring
West Lake Pavilion, Hangzhou

Wherever you travel this spring, make it yours. Get in touch to start planning a journey like none other – quite literally – because it’s been made to custom fit you and only you!

By Kendra Tombolato