Best time to visit Tibet


TEMPERATURE & RAINFALL

Sat up on the world’s highest and largest 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.

WHEN TO VISIT TIBET


A MONTH BY MONTH GUIDE

The rainy season runs from late May or June to September or October, with most of it falling in July and August. The best time to travel to Tibet therefore is April and May, or September and October – either side of the peak of the summer rains and the winter snow.

High season in Tibet runs from April to October. Travelling at the beginning of this season allows you to enjoy snow outside of Lhasa without too much disruption. Towards the end, autumn foliage colours the landscapes and harvest festivals are held in October.

Winter in Tibet certainly has its charms, with snowy scenes and lower prices proving a draw for many. But in December, January and February, the mountains and trekking routes are inaccessible, and many roads may be blocked as well.

You can still visit Lhasa in winter. Days will be dry and bright but cold – with wind chill making it feel even chillier. Nights plummet below freezing from November to February.

There are plenty of festivals in Tibet, one of the biggest being Losar – or Tibetan New Year. This takes place in either February or March, and is celebrated for 15 days – with the first three being the most important. However, the Chinese government periodically restricts the issue of visas during Losar – so do check if they are available before planning your trip at this time.

If you’re heading to Everest Base Camp, April, May and early June as well as late September to early December tend to promise the clearest views across to Mount Everest. July and August can be overcast, leaving the mighty mountain shrouded in cloud.
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WHAT HAPPENS WHEN IN TIBET


RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL RECOMMENDS

Leon Zhang, from our leading Tibet supplier Tibet Vista, shares his advice for the best time to visit Tibet: “It’s different strokes for different folks. For mountaineers, the best time to visit Tibet would be April to May and September to October. For budget tourists, the winter season (November to mid-February) would be the best bargain you can get. You can enjoy many discounts on hotels, flights and the Tibet train, as well as a more intense religious atmosphere. “

FESTIVALS & EVENTS


OUR CULTURAL PICKS FROM THE TIBET CALENDAR

Did you know about…?


The Shoton Festival
Shoton means ‘sour milk banquet’, and strangely enough, this festival is a celebration of consuming yogurt. The event begins with the unfurling of a giant, 500m2 thangka painting in Drepung Monastery and commemorates the yogurt that was brought to the devout monks by the Tibetan people. The monks would spend many weeks in the monasteries during the summer to avoid stepping on and killing insects outside; not killing any living being is one of the five precepts of Buddhism.
Photo credits: [Temp chart: Göran Höglund (Kartläsarn)] [What happens when: Göran Höglund (Kartläsarn)] [The Shoton Festival: John Hill]

Written by: Polly Humphris & Vicki Brown
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