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Best Time to Travel Silk Road

The routes of China Silk Road went through Xian in Shaanxi Province; Ningxia Hui Region; Lanzhou, Dunhuang, Jiayuguan in Gansu Province; Urumqi, Turpan, Kashgar in Xinjiang Uyghur Region.
Climate & Weather in Xian Shaanxi
Shaanxi Province extends across the north temperate zone and subtropical belt and is generally of continental monsoon climate. This area geography is described as being part of the Ordos Desert in the north along the border with Inner Mongolia, the Loess Plateau in the central part of the province, the Qin Mountains (Qinling) running east to west in the south central part. In between the Loess Plateau and the Qinling lies the Wei River Valley, or Guanzhong, a cradle of early Chinese civilisation.

Due to its large span in latitude, Shaanxi has a variety of climates. Under north temperate zone, the northern parts, including the Loess Plateau, have either a cold arid or cold semi-arid, with cold and very dry winters, dry springs and autumns, and hot summers. The area known as Guanzhong is mostly semi-arid, though there are a few areas with a humid subtropical climate, with cool to cold winters, and hot, humid summers that often see early-season heatwaves.

The southern portion of the Qinling is much more humid and lies in the humid subtropical monsoon zone, with more temperate winters and long, hot, humid summers. Annual mean temperature is roughly between 8 to 16 °C (46 to 61 °F), with January temperatures ranging from -11 to 3.5 °C (12 to 38 °F) and July temperatures ranging from 21 to 28 °C (70 to 82 °F).

Xi'an has a temperate climate that is influenced by the East Asian monsoon, as situated on the borderline between a semi-arid climate and humid subtropical climate. Xi'an has most of its annual precipitation from August to late October in the form of rain. It is characterised by hot summers and cold, dry winters. Spring and autumn will be somewhat brief and dry. So that April to May and September to October are the best time to travel around Xian.  

Climate in Ningxia
The region is 1,200 kilometres from the sea and has a continental climate with average summer temperatures rising to 17 to 24 °C (63 to 75 °F) in July and average winter temperatures dropping to between -7 to -15 °C (19 to 5 °F) in January. Seasonal extreme temperatures can reach 39 °C (102 °F) in summer and -30 °C (-22 °F) in winter. The diurnal temperature variation can reach above 17 °C (31 °F), especially in spring. Annual rainfall averages from 190 to 700 millimetres (7.5 to 27.6 in), with more rain falling in the south of the region.

Climate in Gansu
The Gansu province has a sundry landscape. It is a congregation the three plateaus namely the Loess Plateau, the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and the Inner Mongolian Plateau and is surrounded by Shaanxi in the east, Sichuan in the south, Qinghai and Xinjiang in the west, Ningxia and Inner Mongolia in the north. The Hexi Corridor that covers the area of the ancient Silk Road is located on the northwestern part of Gansu and the Gobi desert is spread sporadically over Gansu.

Due to the complex geography and the greatly different elevation, the weather differs in different parts of Gansu. The climate of Gansu is temperate monsoonal but it has the typical characteristics of the continental climate. Gansu undergoes sharp temperature fluctuations in summer (June to August) and winter (December to February), with uneven and unpredictable precipitation throughout the year. In the west the average January temperature is 18 °F (-8 °C) in Jiuquan, for instance, and 19 °F (-7 °C) in Dunhuang, 200 miles (320 km) west of Jiuquan. The temperature in July in Jiuquan is 70 °F (21 °C), and in Dunhuang it is 81 °F (27 °C). Annual temperature variations for most parts of Gansu are more than 54 °F (30 °C); the range in the average number of frost-free.  

The average annual temperature of Gansu is 7-9 °C. The hottest month of July receives an average temperature of 20 o C-24 o C and January being the coldest month receives an average temperature of -12 °C -2 °C approximately. The average annual rainfall is marked as 50-800 mm approximately. The rainy days mainly center in months from June to September. Dunhuang has the most sunlight, so the melons and fruits produced in Dunhuang are particularly sweet.

The climate in Gansu is dry, and there is big difference in temperature between day and night. Coat is neccessary to keep out the cold in the morning and night. Because of the strong solar radiation, travelers in Gansu need to pay more attention on sun protection with sunscreen, sunglasses, hat, umbrella and more. The best time to visit Gansu is from May to October, even though the weather is changeable. The main tourist resource in Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture is natural grassland, and the grass is the most luxuriant in summer, so summer (April, May and June) is the best season to travel in Gannan every year.

Climate in Xinjiang
Generally, a semi-arid or desert climate prevails with a low annual rainfall of only 150 millimeters (6 inches) in Xinjiang. The entire region is marked by great seasonal differences in temperature and cold winters. During the summer, the Turpan Depression usually records the hottest temperatures nationwide, with air temperatures easily exceeding 40 °C (104 °F). In the far north and the highest mountain elevations, however, winter temperatures regularly drop below -20 °C (-4 °F).

From May to October are usually the good seasons for travel, with April marking the beginning of the warm season in Xinjiang. The best time to Urumqi, Turpan and Kashgar is July, August and September, when the days are long, the sky is clear and temperatures more bearable than in the heat of the summer. Especially September is golden time for delicious melons, fruits and vegetables, as well as some festivals there.  

For further details, please view the climate & weather guide on the following cities on the Silk Road: