Winter in Beijing ⛄ – LTL’s Top 9 Recommendations
Winter in Beijing is often met by many with dread.
With plunging temperatures it can be very tempting to stay at home and hibernate until Beijing summer arrives.
But we’re here to tell you to layer up, grab your Canada goose jacket and fur lined mittens and embrace the cold! Beijing is such a huge and thriving city that there is plenty of winter fun, both inside and out.
So we’ve put together our list of favourite things to do or see in Beijing winter and we’re sure that at least one of them will be able to tempt you out into the cold.
Winter in Beijing #1 – Visit Longqing Gorge Ice Festival
Winter in Beijing #2 – Have a Go at Outdoor Ice Skating
Winter in Beijing #3 – Relax at Some Hot Springs
Winter in Beijing #4 – Get Adventurous and Go Skiing
Winter in Beijing #5 – Warm Up with Beijing Hotpot
Winter in Beijing #6 – Escape the Cold at a Museum
Winter in Beijing #7 – Enjoy a Glass of Mulled Wine
Winter in Beijing #8 – Heat Things Up With a Chinese Cooking Class
Winter in Beijing Bonus for December – Get Festive at a Christmas Market
Already bored of winter and looking forward to what summer will bring? Have a look at our list of the best things to do for summer in Beijing!
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Winter in Beijing – #1 Visit Longqing Gorge Ice Festival
If you’re not able to make it up north to the very famous Harbin Ice Festival, then we have a great alternative for you: the Longqing Gorge Ice Festival (龙庆峡冰灯 yánqìng lóng qìng xiá bīngdēng).
Although on a much smaller scale than the Harbin festival, there are still around 400 ice and snow sculptures for you to be impressed by. These range from huge ice replicas of famous temples and palaces to smaller, more delicate ice sculptures.
The highlight of the festival is the 70 metre frozen waterfall which gets lit up to make it even more impressive!
Every year there is a different theme, last year’s theme was the 2022 Winter Olympics, the 2021 theme has yet to be announced. Along with snow and ice sculptures there are also lots of colourful lantern displays in the shapes of dragons, flowers, animals etc.
If you’re feeling active there are also various winter activities available such as an ice slide, ice skating and ice fishing.
The festival begins on the 15th January every year and runs up until the end of February. Tickets cost 100 CNY, for more details on how to get there check out our day trips from Beijing blog.
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Winter in Beijing – #2 Have a Go at Outdoor Ice Skating
Anyone who is familiar with Beijing’s weather knows just how cold it gets in winter which can make it a bit of a struggle. However, one great thing about Beijing winter it’s cold enough for Beijing’s lakes to freeze which means one thing: outdoor ice skating!!
Our favourite outdoor ice skating spot has to be Houhai. With Beijing’s wonderful historic hutongs as a backdrop what could be better than embracing the cold and strapping on some skates to enjoy the beauty of a Beijing winter.
Once the temperature drops and the ice rink opens, many local Beijingers flock to the lake to show off their skills. Perhaps this could be a great opportunity to really immerse yourself and chat to some locals!
You can rent skates at Houhai for around 20-30 RMB and don’t worry if you’re not a great skater they have sleighs to rent too!
Of course with so many lakes in Beijing, outdoor ice skating isn’t just limited to Houhai. Here are a few other places to consider:
Some of these come with a slightly higher price tag so if you’re on more of a budget, Houhai is probably the best bet for you.
Winter in Beijing – #3 Relax at Some Hot Springs
Third up on our list of best things to do in winter in Beijing we have the rather more relaxing recommendation of visiting one of Beijing’s many hot spring resorts.
There are plenty to choose from so which one you choose really depends on what exactly it is you’re looking for. But, our personal favourite is Chunhui Garden Hot Spring Resort (春晖园 chūnhuī yuán).
We love this place because it is great value for money!! Especially if you book in advance through the app dianping, you can get a spa visit for as little as 113 CNY!
This is a Japanese style spa which has three large spa pools and two tub areas. The pools are located in a lovely garden areas which looks out onto a beautiful lake providing a great view as you sit back and unwind.
Along with the pools this spa has various treatments on offer such as massages, acupuncture, cupping etc. They also have a dining area where you can enjoy an array of food and drinks, they even have beer if you fancy a cheeky drink while you’re there.
The spa is located in Northeast Beijing in Shunyi District so it is a little bit of a drive (around 45-60mins) from central Beijing. However, you’ll find that most of the hot spring resorts in Beijing are located at a similar distance.
Not quite sure this spa is for you? Then have a look at some of our other recommendations:
- Jiuhua Hot Springs Resort (九华山庄 jiǔ huà shānzhuāng)
- Xiaotangshan Longmai Hot Spring Resort (龙脉温泉度假村 lóngmài wēnquán dùjiàcūn)
- Fengshan Hot Spring Resort (凤山温泉度假村 fèng shān wēnquán dùjiàcūn)
- Number 8 Hot Spring Club (8号温泉商务会馆 8 hào wēnquán shāngwù huìguǎn)
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Winter in Beijing – #4 Get Adventurous and Go Skiing
When you think of skiing locations in the world, Beijing probably isn’t the first one that springs to mind. However, Beijing actually has numerous ski resorts and this number has been growing since it was selected to host the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Our number one recommendation is Huaibei Ski Resort (怀北国际滑雪场) and affordable ski resort located just around an hour’s drive outside of Beijing.
Huaibei has 11 trails and is a great place to go for any beginner level skiers out there. Being surrounded by the Great Wall makes this one of the most beautiful skiing spots in all of Beijing.
The ski resort is normally open from December to around mid March. All equipment can be rented there for a very reasonable price. However, prices do go up significantly during the Chinese New Year holiday.
If you’re looking for a more swish and fancy experience then you may instead want to check out one of the new Olympic slopes in the Chongli area instead. You can have a look at our full guide to skiing in Chongli for more information.
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Winter in Beijing – #5 Warm up with Beijing Hotpot
So when in Beijing a must try is Beijing hotpot, and what better time to enjoy it than in depths of Beijing’s winter to warm up. Beijing hotpot is distinctive of typical northern Chinese cuisine and it is a lot less spicy than it’s Sichuan counterpart, great news for anyone who just can’t handle Chinese spice!
Of course if you’d prefer the more spicy Sichuan hotpot then be sure to check out Haidilao, the most famous Sichuan hotpot chain.
Typical Beijing hotpot is lamb hotpot where paper thin lamb slices are cooked and the broth is seasoned with mushrooms, ginger and spring onions. Beijing hotpot is also distinctive by the volcano shaped copper pot which it is cooked in. This style has been influenced by Beijing’s close Mongolian neighbours.
As you’d expect there are loads of places where you can go and enjoy Beijing hotpot in Beijing. One of our favourites is 老金私家涮肉家常菜(三里屯春秀路店) which is just west of Sanlitun.
However, if that one doesn’t take your fancy the easiest way to find a restaurant is to type 北京火锅 běijīng huǒguō into the review app Dianping and have a look at the best rated ones, or use the map option to see which restaurants are in your area.
Not sure how or what to eat at hotpot? Then check out our complete guide to eating hotpot.
Winter in Beijing – #6 Escape the Cold at a Museum
If the idea of an outdoor activity seems a little daunting then why not explore one of Beijing’s many museums instead. You can stay in the warm and learn some interesting facts about Chinese culture and history at the same time.
And guess what!? Most of them are completely free so you don’t even need to spend any money!
At the top of your list of museums to visit should of course be some of Beijing’s major museums such as the National Museum of China, the Palace Museum or the Capital Museum.
If you’re looking for something a little more unusual then there is the Tap Water Museum which is one of Beijing’s hidden gems. Anyone interested in Beijing’s history and culture specifically should definitely visit one of the two great Hutong Museums located in Beijing.
Museums not really your thing? Then head on over to 798 and check out some of their numerous art galleries instead.
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Winter in Beijing – #7 Enjoy a Glass of Mulled Wine
Mulled wine (热红酒 rè hóngjiǔ) or gluehwein to some is an essential winter warmer for many among us. Although a Western drink, mulled wine has become a popular winter addition to many drinks menus all over Beijing.
If you want to get cosy what better way than ordering a glass of this delicious festive treat!
Not only will you find it at Christmas markets in December, but also at the majority of Western style restaurants in Beijing. Yes, mulled wine has now become a firm favourite with both local and expat Beijingers.
As with all food and drink the quality and price can vary depending on the bar or restaurant and at the end of the day it’s going to come down to personal taste.
Here at LTL we are very much mulled wine lovers so we’ve put together a list ranking our top 10 favourite places you can buy a glass during winter in Beijing:
- #1 Arrow Factory
- #2 The Local
- #3 Wiggly Jiggly’s
- #4 Buona Bocca
- #5 The Rug
- #6 Modernista
- #7 Paddy O’sheas
- #8 Cheers
- #9 Slow Boat Brewery
- #10 Inception
During those long winter months maybe you’ll even be able to work your way round trying all 10!
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Winter in Beijing – #8 Heat Things Up With A Chinese Cooking Class
Ok, so this one you can do all year round, but if you’re looking for a fun, inside activity where you can stay warm why not learn to make your favourite Chinese dish?
There are a few different cooking schools and cooking experiences in Beijing but one of the best has to be The Hutong Cooking School. They offer numerous different types of cooking classes on a very regular basis.
They have everything from dumpling making classes, Yunnan style cooking classes, classic Chinese cooking classes and even Chinese knife skill classes!
Classes last for roughly around 2.5 hours and are 350 CNY, you of course then get to eat the food you made and also will be given recipe packs for everything you made. You need to be book classes in advance though The Hutong’s website.
If you’re not that into Chinese food, they also offer classes for Italian, Indian and Thai cuisine.
Aside from The Hutong, two other great cooking schools are Black Sesame Kitchen and Beijing Cooking School. They do similar cooking classes to The Hutong with a range of different Chinese cuisine themed classes available.
If you’re specifically looking to learn how to make dumplings then there is also a weekly dumpling making class every Tuesday at The Orchid hotel. The price is 350 CNY and includes free flow drinks throughout and additional Chinese dishes as well as dumplings to eat once the class is finished.
Winter in Beijing – Bonus for December: Get Festive at a Christmas Market
Another bonus activity to do during winter in Beijing, although only available for December is to attend one of the many Christmas markets.
Every December multiple venues host Christmas markets ranging from small independent establishments to huge embassy markets like the one hosted every year by the German Embassy.
Attending one of these is a great way to kick off winter and the festive season. Most of the markets have similar products available with a range of local, homemade products, food and drink.
An entrance fee is normally required for the embassy Christmas markets, but most of the other ones such as the annual Hutong Winter Fayre are completely free!
Check out our full list of Christmas markets in Beijing for more information,
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Winter in Beijing – FAQs
Does Beijing have snow?
Yes, it does snow in Beijing but not very often because winter in Beijing is very dry. It normally snows an average of 6 days during the winter, but because it’s so cold the snow will stay around for a long time.
What is winter like in Beijing?
Winter in Beijing is cold and dry and lasts from November to early March. Temperatures are generally a few degrees below freezing. However, temperatures can drop significantly at night.
How cold does Beijing get in the winter?
On average Beijing winter temperatures are just below freezing, however it can drop quite a lot lower at night.
What do you wear in Beijing in the winter?
Lots of layers! Yes it can get pretty cold so you need to make sure to wear lots of layers and to have a good winter coat. A Canada goose jacket, or another type that is down-filled is recommended!
What is there to do in winter in Beijing?
There are loads of things to do! To name just a few there is the Longqing Gorge Ice Festival, outdoor ice skating, skiing and much more.
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