Dressing for winter can be difficult anywhere, but when you're touring and sightseeing, going inside and outside all day, it can be frustrating. Walking around today in the winter Shanghai drizzle got me thinking how annoying it is to be dressed for outside and then find yourself inside and suddenly stripping off layers because it's so hot. Does that happen everywhere?
I don't recall being so cold outside and so unbelievably hot inside in other places; so perhaps the Chinese pa leng (怕冷) or fear of cold has everyone cranking the heat. The point of all this is to inform the traveler that layers, are indeed, the way to go for your dressing mode during Winter in China.
You'll want to be warm and comfortable outside because you will spend a fair amount of time walking around. Markets and temples are notoriously cold in winter. Museums, restaurants, shopping malls and hotels will be in the over-heated category. For the top, it's pretty easy to dress in layers. My typical layered winter outfit is a t-shirt under a long-sleeve shirt under a cashmere sweater under a down coat. I also use a large wide scarf that can double as a shawl. If it's going to be really cold and I know I'm going to be outside most of the day, I'll add long underwear. This layered dressing can actually make it pretty easy to pack as you only need several changes of the inner layers. But it does present a problem when you've come in from the cold: it's easy to peel off your coat and sweater, not so easy to get un-layered on the bottom...
Photo: snow on the lanterns in Old Town, Yu Gardens, Shanghai. © Sara Naumann, licensed to About.com.