Best time to visit Tibet

Best time to visit Tibet


Sat up on a high plateau, Tibet is dry much of the year round as the mountains catch most of the rainfall. It can get very cold and dry though, especially during winter (November - March). May -October is considered the best time to visit Tibet, when the weather is warmer (above 10°C) and the ice has melted, unblocking roads out of the cities. September - October is the ideal time to trek, and rich autumnal colours make for fantastic photos – if you want to get a clear, cloud-free view of Mount Everest, travel then, or during April and May.

Things to do in Tibet


Things to do in Tibet…

Marvel at Everest’s might. The Tibetan approach to the world’s highest mountain gives you the chance to gaze in wonder at its astoundingly beautiful north face, sure to leave you speechless.
Join the Barkor pilgrim circuit. The Dalai Lama’s former residence, Potala Palace, is a must when visiting Lhasa, but joining the Barkor should also be added to your to-do list. It’s a kilometre-long devotional circumambulation that winds its way around the outer edge of the Johkang Temple in a mesmerising tide of humanity that’s sure to sweep you up; you’ll have gone round twice before you know it, we guarantee.
Watch the monks debate at Sera Monastery. This is one of Lhasa’s ‘famous three’ monasteries (the others being Drepung and Ganden), a magnificent building with scriptures written entirely in gold powder in its halls. Each Monday-Friday from 3pm, monks studying Buddhism must participate in public debates to further their comprehension of the faith. The debates are a lively affair as the monks support their vocal efforts with hand clapping, pressuring their partner with gestures and plucking prayer beads determinedly. You won’t understand a word, but you’ll be utterly captivated.
Try yak butter tea. Some describe it as a warming cup of velvety-smooth loveliness, others as ‘like thin, mouldy cheese with a bit of tea in it’. It’s clearly an acquired taste, but one you must experience to be truly Tibetan – they drink up to 30 cups daily.

Things not to do in Tibet…

Expect to get anywhere quickly. The Tibetans are not lazy, they are laid-back – they are also used to their roads quite often being in a bit of a bad way, or simply blocked momentarily as two bus drivers up ahead have a chat. It’s just the way it is. Expect a longer trip time than you’re told and take it all in your stride as part of the adventure.
Get involved. We are sympathetic to the situation regarding Tibet and China, but storming in raising the Tibetan flag or adorning yourself with a massive picture of the Dalai Lama and shouting ‘free Tibet’ at the top of your voice really won’t do anyone any favours. It is considered ‘illegal’ to being any book, video or speech made by the Dalai Lama into Tibet and travel guides, such as Lonely Planet, that mention the Dalai Lama, or reference China’s occupation of Tibet will be confiscated too. The topic is deep-rooted and pretty serious as the military presence in towns and cities will attest. If you want to make a difference, lend your ear to the stories of oppressed locals while you share a cup of yak butter tea with them – it’s likely a lot of Tibetans lack an objective outlet for their feelings and will jump at the chance to tell you about their families, work and opinions.
If you'd like to chat about Tibet or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.
Rosy & team.
01273 823 700

Tibet travel advice


Cara Brown, Destination Manager at our supplier, Intrepid, shares her top three Tibet tips for travellers:

Physical &
mental preparation

“Clients will be travelling within high altitude (mostly above 3,500m) and they should consult their doctors on what to take in terms of medication. There’s almost no western medication, especially related to AMS (acute mountain sickness) or other altitude related diseases, available in Tibet, so travelers should bring their own. Emergency services and hospitals are easily accessible in Lhasa and Shigatse, but not anywhere else, and no doctors speak English. Also, we travel in some remote areas in Tibet for long distances, so immediate medical help is not always available. Don’t worry too much about this as our leaders are trained in dealing with emergencies and we carry oxygen as well for emergency use.”

Clothing & equipment

“Tibet is very dry at altitude and can be windy and dusty at times, so a wind proof jacket and scarf will be very useful. The temperature changes drastically during a day – the locals say ‘four seasons in a day’ – so layered clothes will come in handy when the temperature changes. Sunglass, sun screen, and moisturiser will be your good friends too, especially moisturiser as Tibet can be very dry. Take your own water bottle for making tea or coffee as almost all hotels have a water boiler.”

Acting responsibly

“Do not take anything that has a picture of Dalai Lama or the Tibetan flag and be respectful about the fact that you can travel and see the locals – the local guides are held responsible for your behaviour there. Only go in a clockwise direction when you are inside a monastery and do not take pictures once inside. Do not give people money, or anything. Kids may ask for candies, or pens, or notebooks, but please don’t give in to their pleas. If you want to take photos of people, ask for permission – if declined then don’t take it.”

Tibet travel advice


At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travellers are often... other travellers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do - and opinions about what not to.

We have selected some of the most useful Tibet travel advice that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your holiday - and the space inside your suitcase.
“Enjoy the Tibetan adventure while it lasts. There are many changes taking places in the Tibetan landscape and in the Tibetan way of life. It is advisable to read up before this trip to experience the visit with an open mind.”Izabela Spero

“Familarise yourself with the Buddhist faith. In the colder months, a sleeping bag would be a very good idea as some of the rooms are unheated. Also, try the yak butter tea with an open mind - it's not that bad!” Judith Grubb
“The first week in Lhasa is easy going and paced well to allow gradual acclimatisation. The second week is hard going and not for the faint hearted. Drink plenty of fluids, even in Lhasa, keep a sense of humour, and never forget how privileged you are to be visiting Tibet.”Victoria Hart

“Do not let the thought of altitude effect you too much - it is normal to be short of breathe and experience a few little headaches etc. Listen to your own body and to your team leader.”Sharon Oo
“Don't take a Lonely Planet - it will be confiscated. I had my bags checked upon arrival and exit for books.” Alan Wall

“It is important for westerners to see for themselves conditions inside Tibet and the impact of Chinese rule (some good, some bad, some very very bad). Whilst there visitors can also set an example of keeping the environment clean such as putting waste into bins instead of on the street.”Victoria Hart
“Make sure you have plenty of small denomination bills with you. Ask your guide where to shop as a lot of the craft stalls and shops are Chinese owned.”Eleanor May Gilchrist
“Learn about the significance of Mt Kailash for the Hindu, Buddhist and Bon pilgrims you will be sharing your trek with. You are not going to have a quiet or solitary walk in beautiful mountains, you are going to be caught up in a devotional experience enjoyed by many fellow walkers… the overall experience is very rewarding.” Neil Small
Photo credits: [Mounain lake: Christopher Michel] [Mount Everest: Gunther Hagleitner] [Tibet market: Jack Versloot] [Yak: momo]

Written by: Polly Humphris
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