Let's face it, weather-wise, winter is not the ideal time to travel in China. It's nose-numbing, cheek-freezing cold in the north and it's bone-chilling damp and chilly across central China. The south can be ok, you'll have mild temps but it will still be damp in December, but not as damp as it could be later in the winter.
The good news is, if you'll be in Beijing or other parts of northern China, rainfall in December is at an annual minimum so you can probably count on a dry day at the Great Wall.
- Beijing: the ave daytime temp is 37F (3C) and ave number of rainy days is less than 2.
- Shanghai: the ave daytime temp is 51F (8C) and ave number of rainy days is 8.
- Guangzhou: the ave daytime temp is 69F (20C) and ave number of rainy days is 6.
- Guilin: the ave daytime temp is 59F (15 C) and ave number of rainy days is 11.
December Packing Suggestions:
- North: it will be cold during the day and below freezing at night. You'll probably be thankful if you bring along a light pair of long underwear, a fleece and a wind-proof or down jacket.
- Central: it will be quite chilly during the day and cooler at night, but rarely freezing. A heavy base layer (e.g. jeans, boots and sweaters) along with a rain/wind-proof jacket will be enough.
- South: it will still be relatively warm. Late fall dressing is fine but bring something lightweight for the occasional cool evening and rainy day.
Visiting China in December - Pros:
- There aren't any national holidays in December and people are working hard leading up to Chinese New Year (Jan/Feb) so China's top attractions won't be as crowded as in peak times.
- Dry weather in Beijing and the rest of northern China makes for cold, but almost-guaranteed dry sight-seeing.
- Mild weather in central and south China is comfortable for sight-seeing and touring.
Visiting China in December - Cons:
It's cold! Cold but dry in the north, cold and damp across central China and cool in the south.