When is the best time to visit Tibet?
Tibet is on a high altitude plateau, with much of the country experiencing permafrost throughout the year. For their largely clear, azure skies May and October are generally considered the finest months for travelling in Tibet. However, it is possible to visit most areas of the country any time between April and November and despite the altitude it is surprisingly warm during these months. Between December and March it gets extremely cold and snowy, which although picturesque, can prevent flights from entering the country and makes much of Tibet’s mountainous landscape inaccessible.
Chris, North & Central Asia & Oman Specialist
My favourite time to visit Tibet is in the second half of October, because it is typically clear and dry, giving you the best opportunity to view the spectacular panorama of Everest and the surrounding mountain landscape. It is a little cold at this time, but this means fewer people visit so the sites are less crowded.
Tibet Climate Guide
|Everest Base Camp||-4°C 6mm||-3°C 4mm||-1°C 6mm||3°C 7mm||6°C 7mm||10°C 28mm||9°C 90mm||9°C 103mm||7°C 37mm||4°C 17mm||0°C 1mm||-1°C 2mm|
|Gyantse||4°C 0mm||6°C 0mm||9°C 2mm||13°C 4mm||16°C 15mm||19°C 46mm||19°C 93mm||18°C 93mm||17°C 43mm||13°C 6mm||9°C 2mm||6°C 0mm|
|Lhasa||6°C 0mm||9°C 1mm||12°C 2mm||15°C 7mm||19°C 24mm||23°C 75mm||22°C 124mm||21°C 130mm||19°C 58mm||16°C 9mm||11°C 2mm||7°C 1mm|
|Tingri||2°C 5mm||3°C 5mm||6°C 7mm||10°C 7mm||13°C 9mm||17°C 38mm||16°C 107mm||15°C 118mm||14°C 44mm||11°C 16mm||6°C 1mm||4°C 3mm|
Month-by-month guide to travelling in Tibet
- January Jan
- February - March Feb - Mar
- April Apr
- May May
- June Jun
- July - August Jul - Aug
- September Sep
- October Oct
- November - December Nov - Dec
Visiting Tibet in January
January is typically cold but dry and sunny, with temperatures at night dropping well below freezing. However, this is also Tibet’s windiest month and the wind chill makes it seem much colder. You won’t be able to travel much beyond the cities because of the harsh weather conditions, but prices are much cheaper during the winter season and you’ll have the sites pretty much to yourself.
Visiting Tibet in February - March
The weather is extremely cold and often snowy during this period, making much of the country inaccessible beyond the main cities. In addition, the Chinese government often does not issue Tibet permits to foreigners during a six week period during this time, for Tibetan New Year.
Events & Festivals
- Tibetan New Year typically falls in February, and is celebrated by a week-long festival of horse races, archery and dancing.
Visiting Tibet in April
Temperatures begin rise, melting the snow and opening up more areas to visit. This is still before the summer so you’ll avoid the highest prices and visitor numbers. This is still in the dry season so you’re likely to have clear skies and great views of the mountains. Travelling outside of Lhasa will provide you with spectacular wintery landscapes, with snowy mountains and frozen lakes.
Visiting Tibet in May
The weather is generally warm and sunny in May, with clear skies and great views. Temperatures at the lower altitudes average at around 20°C (just under 70°F) although due to the high altitude this can feel warmer in the sun. It gets a little busier with more visitors arriving to take advantage of the inclement climate, so prices also start to rise. Flowers begin to bloom and the trees turn green.
Visiting Tibet in June
Temperatures get warmer again but from mid-June the rainy season begins so the whole of June is generally cloudier than in April and May. This is still before the busiest summer months though, and offers pleasant conditions for walking in the mountains.
Events & Festivals
- Incense Festival is a one-day event in June, during which Tibetans dress up as spirits and dance to ‘scare away’ the ghosts which are said to prowl on this day.
- Sho Dun Festival is held to worship Buddha, and is celebrated with bonfires at night and operas and picnics held in parks during the day.
Visiting Tibet in July - August
This is rainy season in Tibet so there is often cloud cover, which means if you’re trekking in the mountains during these months you may not get clear, panoramic views. However, this is also the time of year when the alpine flowers bloom and the mountains are at their most verdant. Temperatures are also mild and pleasant.
Visiting Tibet in September
The rain is usually over by September and temperatures are still warm, making September a lovely time to visit Tibet. Colourful autumn foliage begins to appear across the landscape.
Visiting Tibet in October
October is one of the most popular times to visit Tibet because the days are long, dry and generally sunny. Daytime temperatures average between 15 and 20°C (60-70°F), although the high altitude makes it feel warmer.
Events & Festivals
- Harvest Festival usually falls during October, celebrated by prayers, singing, dancing and drinking.
Visiting Tibet in November - December
The weather is typically dry, sunny and very cold during November and December, with temperatures dropping well below freezing at night. There aren’t usually many people visiting during this time, so prices tend to drop accordingly.
Events & Festivals
- Tsong Khapa Festival commemorates the death of Tsong Khapa by lighting fires on the roofs of all monasteries.
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