Winter in Shanghai

Shanghai continue to cool down these days. The steps of winter are closer and closer each day. The current temperature in Xujiahui is 15°C.

Some readers will relocate to Shanghai within two months – at least there are 5 persons on my list to have the plan to migrate to Shanghai this November. I know it because most of the emails I got started with a sentence like “I am planning to move to Shanghai this November with my husband/wife/dog/family….” Let me talk a little bit about the weather of Shanghai Winter.

Shanghai Winter is Cold

Believe it or not, Shanghai’s winter is extremely cold. It is colder than Guangzhou (in south China) and it is even colder than Beijing (in north China).

I still remember the first winter I spent in Shanghai. It was 1995 and I was in SJTU Minhang Campus. There was no air-conditioner in my dorm.

Although the temperature very rarely drop to under freezing point (0°C), it feels colder than it actually is. The air is wet, cold and wet in winter. It feels lie standing in the ice water without any protection. The quilt is also wet and feels like a piece of ice. It takes quite some time to warm up the quilt.


Lack of heating equipments is an important reason. Shanghai is the north most city that does not have heating equipments. In cities north of Shanghai, steam heaters are installed in every home and every office. In Beijing, which is 1000 km north of Shanghai, almost every room has heater installed. The central heat supply keeps the rooms warm, dorms, offices, homes, public areas, 24 hours a day. It is very cold outside, but very warm inside. People can wear T-shirt in their houses in winter.

In Shanghai, heating equipment is not a standard configuration for a room. Although most of the rooms have air-condition, it is not as effective as central heating system. It is much more expensive than central heating system. Not every house owner/business are rich enough to turn it on 24 hours a day.

Another reason is the wet air. Located near the sea, the air is wet in Shanghai and it rains often in winter. Wet air feels colder. In Beijing, the main reason for feeling cold is the heavy wind. When you enter a building that is free of heavy wind, it is much warmer. Shanghai is another story. Back to the times when I was living in a dorm, we kept the window during the night since it does not make much difference to keep it open or closed. The window didn’t keep any heat inside the room. So you get some idea of what the Shanghai winter looks like.

No only windows. Wearing more clothes seem does not work either. It is still cold no matter how much you wear – the wet air has its way to reach your body….

22 thoughts on “Winter in Shanghai

  1. Hi , Jian , this is Suhas. I had a fairly good idea @ Shanghai , before coming here, because of only your blog. Thanks a lot . I have been in Shanghai from last week , 24th oct.

    If such is the winter in Shanghai, then oops !! It’s pretty (??) difficult. We use to hear stories of our soldiers working in India in such conditions. Anyway. Lets be ready to face it & if possile , enjoy , too.


  2. So has anyone been to the new Hooter’s in shanghai yet? Let me know how the girls are :) There are only 2 reasons for me to visit Shanghai: girls and money…

  3. Shanghai is really cold. I still remember the first winter I lived in Shanghai, without a heating equipment. I have to go to office and work overtime to get warmed. ;)

    BTW, Shanghai is not the north most city that does not have heating equipments … Nanjing has no heating equipments as well.

    Also, to me, heating system is much expestive than AC in Beijing. For my apartment rent in BJ (100 M2), I need to pay 1900 RMB ( = 19 RMB * 100 M2) for 4 months (Nov 15 – Mar 15) heating system usage. It means 475 RMB per month. 475 RMB can make the small apartment very comformatable by using AC because it’s not neccessary to open it 24 hours a day.

  4. hehe, I’ve heared many guys who migrated from north complainning the cold winter of Shanghai. And I always tell them :” welcome to the fantasy city, you will experience warm spring, hot summer, cool autumn, and God damned cold winter.” :P

  5. gniw,

    Electrical appliance sold in Hong Kong has the same voltage as China, but different in socket, would suggest to buy in China.


  6. Mr. Wang,

    Most of the heating elements in Shanghai should be electric driven, as winter approaching, would it further intensify the power shortage as Shanghai had faced in the summer.


  7. Ha, it is surprising to find your personal web page from Internet when I try to find some research materials related to creativity in Ottawa. It is also warm to me to find so many familiar names came from MS…

    Best Wishes to you guys in SH!

  8. This post is right on. I found the winter I spent in Hangzhou (basically the same weather as Shanghai) pretty rough…I could just never get warm, and my clothes would never dry. It was definitely a struggle getting out of bed in the morning!

  9. Mr. Wang

    Winter in Shanghai assembles great similarity as Northern Europe such as London, England. Wondering why the city never incorporate new building code to have the living quarter insulated. As mentioned by carsten previously, insulated housing can keep warm or cool up to 10c of the outside temperature and is a must in Northern Europe. In the long run, I think it can save energy for China.


  10. My friends thought I was crazy when I said i was going to shanghai and Beijing in the middle of winter.

    At the time I said how cold could it get? Trying to show no fear.

    Now after reading these posts I am getting very nervous.

    I live in Florida where the lowest it ever gets here in the winter is 70F. and we call that freezing.

    I guess Dec. will be much colder then Nov. in Shanghai. he he

  11. is it as cold as the Swiss Winter? I faced the summer heat (wet and hot) in Shanghai this year and it seems I have to fight thru the winter in Shanghai coming again in mid December.

  12. ;) as i can see in “my yahoo!” page it’s 13-18°C today in Shanghai… not to bad compare with the 2-5°C of my city (Lyon, France).

    Hope I can be in Shanghai in February for a semester of chinese learning course at fudan.

  13. i’ve just moved to shanghai from thailand… and it’s so cold!!! i bought a jacket last week and that one isn’t warm enough, so now i’m going to have to find a warmer one. brrrr….

  14. 15 degrees is what we call ” A beautiful sunny day in the summer”. Here in the UK :D

    I have to say I had frost bites when I was in SH during my childhood. the UK is colder on average and the winter can go to – 5 in large areans or even colder, but all the house have central heating so it doesn’t feel as bad.

    Michael (my BF) didn’t like SH’s ‘heat’ when we landed on teh 28th of October, it was like 18 degrees that day?

    He came from a very northen English city called Carlisle and is used to the cold. heat makes him weak LOL, he only wore 1 single T shirt on top of Huangshan, which drew lots attention from local people asking if he was cold.

    I’m sorta half way in the middle, I’m more cold resistant than local Chinese people but still not as resiliant than the mad UK people haha.

  15. I’ll probably move to Shanghai from november to march, which are the winter months described on this page. I’m from eastern Canada so i’m use to cold, really cold winters. Cold days going from -10 to -30 celcius are a common thing here, then i think i’m gonna be alright with Shanghai’s winter. :)

  16. If it hasnt hit -45C in Shanghai then the weather there is nothing like the weather in Beijing, I have been in both places in the winter time and believe me Shanghai is NOT as cold as northern China. I have experienced winter weather in Shanghia, Nanjing, Wuhan, Beijing, Dalian and standing on the platform waiting for a train when its like a wind tunnel and its -20C on average, and can hit -45C in Beijing and Dalian is COLD. Shanghai is damp and chilly but it doesnt get that cold there, if it did the palm trees and other vegetation wouldnt survive. You dont see palm trees in Northern China

  17. re: heating issues, buy an electric heater !! Living in Northern China despite steam heat in every room we had to supplement it with electric heaters, heat is often turned way down during the day – I guess the assumption is everyone is at work then. Its hard to survive winter anywhere in China without electric heaters, which can be found fairly cheaply.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *