Visit Chengdu in December: is it too cold to travel?
The capital of Sichuan Province in Southwest China, Chengdu is one of the most popular tourist destinations in China, not to mention the home of the amazing giant pandas. While it is possible to visit this beautiful ancient city throughout the year, the weather in December may not be to everyone’s liking. However, it is generally not as cold as the Chinese capital of Beijing, though it may be a little damper.
Weather and Temperature in December
Chengdu is located in the Sichuan Basin, which helps to keep the average temperature above freezing throughout the year. However, the damp climate can sometimes make travel a little uncomfortable. Average temperatures in December generally range from around 7-8 degrees, with highs of up to 11 °C and dropping to only around 5 °C at the coldest. It is rare to see the temperatures in Chengdu drop to as low as freezing, even at night.
Rainfall in Chengdu in December is generally light, with only around five days of the month being wet and only up to around 5mm of rainfall for the whole month. However, humidity in December is one of the highest in the year, reaching as much as 82% and higher. This makes the weather very damp, even when the sun is out and shining.
|Averages for Chengdu Weather in December|
|Average Temperature||7°C / 45°F|
|Average Minimum Temperature||11°C / 52°F|
|Average Maximum Temperature||5°C / 41°F|
|Average Rainfall||5 mm|
|Wet Days (>0.1mm)||5|
|Sunrise||07:43 ~ 08:01|
|Sunset||18:02 ~ 18:12|
December is the Low-season with Less Cost
Chengdu is well into its low season for tourism by December, and while you may see a few tourists, most of the hotels are empty and attractions are less crowded. Chengdu is a popular hotspot with tourists in China, but throughout December, the lower tourist numbers make it a good place to visit if you do not like crowds.
This low season month in Chengdu means you can pay a lot less for hotels and transport in and around Chengdu, and you will have more space when you go to see the Chengdu pandas in December. Flights can also be a lot cheaper in December, as fewer tourists are heading for the city in the low season.
Most Featured Places to Visit in December
Chengdu does stay open for tourists throughout the year, with the most popular places to visit still being easy to get to, and even easier to get around.
See pandas or join winter volunteer program at panda bases
Giant pandas do not hibernate, unlike other species of bears in winter, and can be very active on the colder days. Heat is the enemy of the pandas, and makes them more lethargic. Colder days mean more activity, better interaction and more chances to see them playing and enjoying the daytime sun in their habitats in the panda breeding and research centers in Chengdu.
To see the cute pandas at Chengdu Dujiangyan Panda Base
The Panda Volunteer Program is a hugely popular option for visitors to Chengdu Dujiangyan Panda Base, and tourists can sign up to become a volunteer panda keeper for the day. In the summer, this can sometimes be hard to get onto, because of the number of applicants. But in December, with fewer visitors the centers, it is easier to get a placement on the program, so that you can spend the day preparing food and feeding these beautiful creatures, as well as learning more about them and helping to care for them and clean their habitats. - See all Panda tours in winter
Enjoy cozy sunshine and tea at Renmin Park
Also known as the People’s Park, Renmin Park in Chengdu is the first public park in the city. Artfully landscaped, this beautiful bonsai-filled park is the ideal place to relax and enjoy the beauty of nature in the middle of the city. As a city, Chengdu is renowned for its slow and relaxed pace of life, and this shows through just the same in the park, as people relax and play mahjong, stroll through the carefully sculpted gardens, and enjoy tea with company and conversation in the tea shops that can be found here.
Drink tea like the locals at Chengdu Renmin Park
Relaxing with a delicious cup of jasmine tea while you play mahjong is one of the favored pastimes of the locals, and some of the teashops in the heart of the People’s Park have been here for hundreds of years.
Play snow and ski at Chengdu Xiling Snow Mountain
China’s largest ski resort, the Chengdu Xiling Snow Mountain is a popular playground for winter travelers, which makes it an ideal destination for those traveling to Chengdu in December. Covering an area of around eight square kilometers, the resort is the most successful in China, and is known locally as the “Oriental Alps”.
Ski at Chengdu Xiling Snow Mountain in Dec. is one of the popular activities for travelers.
Having a ski resort so close to a major international transport hub has made this beautiful Snow Mountain one of the best places to come for some snowy relaxation. The Snow Mountain only stands around 5,364 meters above sea level, and has seven World-Class Alpine Ski Pistes, rated the best in Asia.
Try a spicy hotpot in the local restaurant
Hotpot is one of the local Sichuan delicacies, and is a must-try for anyone heading for Chengdu in December. Hotpot can be found on almost every street in Chengdu, and while the quality and taste can vary considerably, it is always noted for its spiciness. A spicy and oily dish that gets its hot flavors from the tongue-numbing Sichuan Peppercorns that are included in its ingredients, it is a dish that is guaranteed to warm you up on even the coldest Chengdu winter day.
Enjoying the spicy Chengdu hotpot in a local restaurant
There are hundreds of restaurants that serve this dish in Chengdu, and many are well worth visiting. A few of the favorites with tourists include the Lao Ma Tou Hotpot on Yulin Middle Road, the Huangcheng Laoma Hotpot on Qintai Road, and the Moon River Hot Pot on Bai Yun Si Street. But you cannot go more than a few steps without finding a place that sells hotpot, so be adventurous and branch out.
Explore the fairyland in Jiuzhaigou Valley
The Jiuzhaigou Valley in Sichuan Province lies to the north of Chengdu, around 434 kilometers from the city center. Easily accessible by car, train, or flight, this area of outstanding natural beauty is one of the favorite tourist destinations in this part of China. A set of three valleys that form a distinct Y shape, Jiuzhaigou is like a fairy wonderland in winter, especially as the snows fall in mid-December.
December in Jiuzhaigou is not the ideal place for trekking, due to the snow in the higher latitude areas, but you can wander along the roads and raised trails and explore a little of this beautiful fairy-tale landscape as the snows begin their winter fall. - See all Jiuzhaigou winter tours
Travel around the silvery Mounigou
The Mounigou Valley area of Sichuan’s Ngawa Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture is another of the wondrous sights that this beautiful part of China has to offer. Mounigou lies close to the edge of the Tibetan Plateau, located around 300 kilometers to the north of Chengdu. Part of the western edge of the Huanglong National Scenic Reserve, there are two major hotspots in the area.
Zhaga Waterfall is the largest travertine waterfall in China.
The Zhaga Waterfall is one of the most beautiful stepped waterfalls in Asia, and extends over 35 meters in width, with a total drop of around 93 meters. Located at more than 3,000 meters above sea level, the waterfalls come from an alpine lake above, and the water makes a thunderous sound as it bounces down over the travertine steps of the cliff face.
The Erdaohai Scenic Area in Mounigou is an area of dense jungle that is reached only by foot or on horseback from the Zhaga Waterfalls. The area, which stretches out for around 6,800 square meters, consists of more than 400 lakes, and a myriad of caves and tunnels that snake through the scenic area. - Check the details of 3 days Chengdu Mounigou Jiuzhaigou winter tour
Visit Leshan Giant Buddha by foot or boat in warm winter
Downstream from Chengdu, located alongside the Min River, Giant Leshan Buddha sits as one of the most outstanding sights in China. It is renowned in Sichuan as one of the top tourist destinations around Chengdu, and is a great place to visit on a bright winter’s day in December. Carved into the very cliffs of the riverbank, this massive statue of the Maitreya Buddha stands an amazing 71 meters tall, and was carved between the 8th and 9th centuries.
You can choose to visit the Buddha from the river entrance, taking the sightseeing boat from the town along the Min River to the decks in front of the statue. Alternatively, you can walk from the town to the Buddha, emerging from the trail above its head, and you can climb down the staircase at the side to the bottom.
Enjoy a hot spring and stunning sunrise at Mount Emei
Located to the southwest of Chengdu, Mount Emei, or Emeishan, is one of the Four Sacred Buddhist Mountains of China. Sitting right on the edge of the Sichuan Basin, this beautiful sacred mountain is a popular spot for travelers after visiting the Leshan Buddha, and makes a great day out from Chengdu.
Enjoying the amazing sunrise of Mount Emei
The whole area around Emeishan is formed from volcanic eruptions in the past, and the area below the mountain is renowned for its hot springs and relaxing spas. The area includes several hot springs around the city of Emei, and you can get spa treatments, relaxing hot spring baths, and much more pampering after you enjoy the stunning sunrise at the Golden Summit. - See all Leshan Emeishan tours
What to Pack for Visiting Chengdu in December
While it may not be as cold as other more northerly areas such as Beijing and Qinghai Province, Chengdu can get more than a little chilly in December, especially at night. It is advisable to bring plenty of warm sweaters, a good thick down or fleece jacket, hat and scarf, gloves, and warm thick pants. The sun is not too bright to be damaging throughout December, but it can get a little bright when reflecting off the snow, so bring sunglasses to help protect your eyes while skiing at Chengdu Xilin Snow Mountain.
More insider Chengdu December Travel Tips
Chengdu is not as crowded in December as it can be in the height of summer, and it is a better time to get to see the giant pandas in one of the four panda bases in the area. December is also the best time for the delicious hotpot, as the spicy Sichuan Peppercorns make it a warming and comforting meal.
Some of the tourist attractions in and around Chengdu are not always at their best in December, so it is advisable to pick places to visit that are easy to get to, and are less affected by the weather. If you are heading for Jiuzhaigou, it is advisable to have a guide, so that you do not get lost or hurt.
Chengdu is one of the most outstanding cities in China, and has come a long way in the last ten years in terms of popularity with international travelers. An awesome transport hub, getting in is easy, and traveling around can be done in comfort and style. And as the homeland of the famous Giant Pandas of Chinese legend, Chengdu is one of the best places to visit in China in December. - See all Chengdu tours
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