The best time to visit any country including Tibet depends on you. Tours or visits to Tibet is available all year round.
But the time during May, June, July, August, September, and October are the best time to visit Tibet. These months have pleasant weather for visiting around Tibet.
However, depending on your preference and interests, you can make the choice of the best time or season to visit Tibet.
Each season of Tibet has its distinct beauty, perks, and cons.
For most travelers, weather conditions and temperatures of a place determines when to visit a place or country.
Tibet enjoys 4 distinct seasons- Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter. All these seasons enjoy different weather conditions along with temperature.
Tibet has a diverse topography. Hence, you will find variations in temperature and weather conditions within the same Season.
Spring (March, April, May)
Tibet remains closed to foreign travelers or visitors during March. This has been the rule of the local government since 2008.
Hence, you can start to apply to visit Tibet once April begins. The spring months of April and May are a good time to visit Tibet.
April: The weather is generally clear, and travels to all regions of Tibet are pleasant. The average daytime temperatures lie between 2-15 degrees Celsius. As April progresses, the temperature rises.
During the night, it can get chilly. Some high elevation areas are in deep froze even in April. This includes famous areas like Namtso Lake (4718m) and Manasarovar (4441m). You may even get snow at high elevation areas such as these.
May: With the passing of April, you get nice, clear and warm days in May. The ice melts in the higher regions, opening up blocked remote roads. You can enjoy your tours in cool temperatures of 5-18 degrees Celsius. This is the perfect temperature for walk and treks in the region.
Summer (June, July, August)
June, July, August are the summer months in Tibet. These are the warmest time of the year. Yet at altitudes above 4000m, it still gets cold during the night.
During summer, the oxygen content in the air in Lhasa reaches its greatest, accounting for 66.3％ on average. Hence, tours with kids and elderly are best done during these months.
Summer is also monsoon season in Tibet. You may get rain a few days each week in most regions. It doesn’t rain every day even during the monsoon season in Tibet.
June: June is the driest of the summer months. The temperatures lie between a cool 8 degrees Celsius to a warm 18 degrees Celsius. This is neither too hot nor too cold. You can enjoy the pleasant weather without the sweltering heat.
July and August: These months see much of the sporadic downpours and severe gale. July sees an average precipitation level of 90-100mm while August sees 100-120mm.
These cause many natural disasters like a landslide, debris flow in the remote areas of Tibet. You may encounter roadblocks while going in and out of Lhasa. You can also face problems with flight delays due to the weather condition.
During the non-rainy days, you can enjoy the cozy warm temperatures of 8-23 degrees Celsius.
Note: Make sure you have a flexible schedule to counter for the unpredictable weather conditions. Also, have all your rain gears with you during your travels or treks to Tibet during these months.
Autumn (September, October, November)
Autumn has the most comfortable weather and temperature. After the monsoon ends, you get clear skies and spectacular views in autumn.
The autumn months of September, October, November are the golden months for tours to Tibet.
September: Till mid-September, you may get occasional rainfall. After this, you can enjoy the clear weather and cool temperatures.
October: October is the favorite month for most travelers to visit Tibet. This month has clear and pleasant weather conditions and temperature.
The weather is clear and cool in October. This is a good time to hike and trek in Tibet, enjoy amazing views of mountain peaks, and camping.
November: The temperatures start to decrease. November sees average daily temperatures of -2 to -12 degrees Celsius. During the nights, the temperature drops to -8 degrees Celsius.
Yet you can enjoy the warm days with clear blue skies and amazing visibility and comfortable weather.
Winter (December, January, and February)
Winter in Tibet offers clear weather almost every day. Hence, it has amazing visibility of the gorgeous high plateau.
The weather is cold along with the wind chills. It does snow and roads do close due to heavy snow.
December: December is the least cold month of the winter months. You can enjoy sunny days with temperatures between 2-8 degrees Celsius for much of December. As December progresses, the average temperatures dip down to -2 to 6 degrees Celsius.
The chances of snowfall are also quite low during the beginning of December. The roads are not yet blocked and you may get to see popular lakes like Mansarovar in its frozen state complete with crystal ice.
January: It is cold, dry and sunny. It is also the windiest month of Tibet which makes the temperatures seem colder.
The average temperature during January is -12 to 4 degrees Celsius. The nights are colder. You may not be able to travel or trek or tour much beyond the cities because of the harsh weather.
February: Most of the days of February, Tibet closes off to foreign travelers. This has been in practice by the government since 2006. Confirm with your tour operator to find the exact date. This date does and can change each year.
Best Time to Visit Tibet for Treks, Mountaineering, and Camping
The best time to do treks in Tibet is from Early May through mid/late October.
Of these months, the best is May to June and September to October. July and August are wet summer months.
During winter, because of severe cold and snowfall, most tea houses in the trails close for the season. Hence, very few travel agencies arrange treks in Tibet during the winter months.
May-June and September-October are generally dry giving you good views of the mountains. You can also enjoy good conditions of the trails and weather.
During July and August, it will most likely rain at least 3 times per week. The skies will be quite cloudy during the day, obscuring the views of the mountains. Yet, with the right gears and proper trekking clothes, you can trek in the summer in Tibet as well.
The best months for camping are May and September when it hardly rains at all. You can enjoy your camping in warm, dry weather with amazing and clear views of the surrounding landscape and mountain peaks.
For climbing, April to early June and mid-September to mid-October are the best time. These months are ideal for summits to some of the world’s highest mountains in Tibet.
It is a time when the wind speed stabilizes on Mt. Everest at less than 39-49 km/h. These months also have little to no extreme weather conditions like heavy showers of rain, hail or hurricane. All these factors provide a safer condition for mountaineering.
Best Time to Visit Tibet for Mountain Viewing
Tibet is home to some of the world’s highest peaks. Averaging the elevation of above 8000m, over 14 lofty summits stand proudly along this epic Himalayan range.
Some of the incredible peaks are Mt. Everest (8848 m), Mt. Cho Oyu (8201m), Mt. Lhotse (8516m) and Mt.Makalu(8463m). This is one of the main highlights of most Everest Base Camp tour to Tibet.
Hence, it is no wonder that more than 80% of the total visitors visiting Tibet do so to get a close and clear view of these magnificent peaks.
If this is your reason for travels to Tibet, then the best time to do so are April to mid-June, September, and October.
This time frame gives you a better chance to enjoy the clear and grand panorama of the summit of Mt. Everest.
You can also travel to Tibet between November to mid-February in the winter season. These months will also give you the highest visibility in the Everest region.
It’s a perfect time for landscape photography as well. The best places for landscape photography are Gawu La Pass (5198m) and Rongbuk monastery. These places might close in the winter due to heavy snow.
Cost while Visiting Tibet
For travelers planning to visit Tibet at a better deal or an affordable price, you can do so in the off-peak season or low season. This is during winter i.e during the months of December, January, and February.
During these months, you have the best chance of getting real bargains. You can get the lowest cost for your Tibet tours during these months.
You can get great discounts on your flight tickets, cost of accommodation, tour packages, entrance fees and so on.
For example, The cost of 8-day Tibet Overland Group Tour is as follows:
High Season: April to November: US$ 1000- 1500
Low Season: December to February: US$ 800-900
Best Time to Experience Local Culture
Festivals provide all travelers with great chances to experience the local culture. It gives travelers a unique opportunity to understand the religion and lifestyle of the local people.
In Tibet, there is a great celebration of traditional festivals. You may end up getting an unforgettable experience of a lifetime through these.
The festivals of Tibet are all about worshipping, commemorating and giving thanks to the gods, and in particular Buddha.
Some of the most popular annual festivals that take place in Tibet are as follows:
Tibetan New Year or Losar
‘Lo’ means year and ‘sar’ means new in the Tibetan language. It is an important celebration of the year for the people of Tibet.
In ancient times, this used to be a month-long festival. It has now toned down to the first 3 days and the 15th day or the full moon day of the month.
On the last 2 days of the year, the preparations for the new year begins. It consists of cleaning the house and preparing food.
On this day, people also worship the shrines at their own homes, monasteries, stupas. They also sing, dance and make merry during this day and for the next two days.
Butter Lamp Festival
As the name suggests, this festival revolves around the lighting of butter lamps. This festival commemorates the victory of Buddha in a debate that took place in India around 2,500 years ago.
Tibetan Buddhists usually spend the day at their local temple. The monks of the temples will have prepared dozens of colored butter sculptures of Buddha and various animals for this day.
Once the sun sets, thousands of lamps are lit to represent the light of Buddha.
You can also join Tibetan pilgrims at night to enjoy the massive butter lamps being lit on Jokhang Temple.
Most Tibetan Buddhists also light lamps at their own homes. The number of butter lamps lit is 108, a holy number.
This is one of the holiest festivals in the Tibetan calendar. Saga Dawa is a celebration of the life of Buddha. It commemorates his teachings and striving to be kind and compassionate.
The Tibetan Buddhists replace the old prayer flagpole with a new one. They do this at their own homes, local monasteries, stupas and other places.
You can also witness the gigantic Buddha unfolding in Drepung and Ganden monasteries.
Horse Race Festival
This festival is like an athletic event along with a music festival. On this day, the locals showcase their talents in various sports. Some of them include horse racing, horse archery, horse acrobats, wrestling, archery, track, and ball games.
This is one of the most exciting and traveler-accessible festivals of Tibet.
Some communities have small with only a couple hundred spectators. Other horse festivals can be large with over 35,000 people attending.
Some of the largest horse festivals are as follows:
- Jyekundo (Yushu) Horse Festival: This takes place in the Kham region of Qinghai province.
- Nagchu Festival: It takes place 6 hours north of Lhasa. To attend this, you will need to have your tour operator arrange it for you. Machu Horse Festival: This is one of the largest in the Amdo region. It takes place in southwest Gansu province.
- Gyantse Horse Festival: Takes place in TAR. Hence, you will need to arrange it through your tour operator.
Tashi Lhunpo Thangka Display Festival
Every year, the citizens of Shigatse and beyond gather at the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery for this festival.
This festival takes place for 3 days. On each day, a different, unveiling of an ancient thangka for public viewing and worship takes place.
The first day of the festival sees the unveiling of the Buddha Amitabha. The 2nd day, you can see the unveiling of the Sakyamuni Buddha. On the 3rd day, the unveiling of Maitreya or Future Buddha takes place.
These giant thangkas are never kept on display due to the delicate nature of the cloth and the painting. You only see them during the time of the ceremonies of this festival.
After the ceremony completes, the thangkas are again put away for another year. After this, the Buddhist Tibetans circumambulate around the Tashilhunpo Monastery.
Sho Dun Festival
The Sho Dun Festival is also known as the Yogurt Festival or Banquet. This annual festival takes place at Norbulingka.
This festival began in the 16th century with a banquet given by the lay people for the monks. The banquet features yogurt.
During this day, a giant Buddha painting is also put on public display in Drepung Monastery.
Note: The date of the festivals do change every year. The local Tibetans follow the Tibetan Lunar calendar.
Best Time to Take Photos
If capturing great photos are your Passion, then Tibet can offer this as well.
For photographers of all kinds, the best time to visit Tibet would be from April to early February next year. This means you can visit Tibet any time of the year and find something worth feasting your eyes on.
Best Time for Qinghai-Tibet Railway to Lhasa
For big train buffs, this railway system or taking Tibet train from Xining to Lhasa can be a real treat.
This man-made wonder dashes 1,956 km on lofty Qinghai-Tibet plateau.
The best time to take this train ride is between the months of July-October.
During these months, you can enjoy picturesque Qinghai Lake and the massive yellow rapeseed flowers in full blossom around it. You can also see the snow-blanketed mountains like Yuzhu peak even in mid-summer. You can also see the glittering Tuotuo River and the vast Qiangtang prairie.
During winter, the entire plateau is completely slicked with a shimmering pure snowflake. This makes the upward train journey on the snow land- holy and spiritual.
Pros and Cons of Visiting Tibet in Different Season
Given below are the perks and cons of visiting during each of the four seasons:
- Good, clear and dry weather
- Good visibility with small to no amounts of clouds
- Saka Dawa Festival
- Closed off: Tibet remains closed off to foreign visitors during March and much of February. This is the policy of the local government.
- Warm weather
- Highest oxygen content in the air
- Lush green scenery
- Best views of mountain peaks and surrounding landscapes during dry weather
- Horse Race Festival
- Limited visibility due to the presence of clouds.
- Muddy roads and roadblocks due to weather.
- The highest number of crowds
- Most expensive time to travel
- Advance booking is a must for everything
- The occurrence of natural disasters like a landslide, debris flow due to rain.
- Comfortable temperatures
- Clear blue skies provide you with amazing views of snow-capped mountains and the surroundings.
- Great time for treks, hikes, crossing passes and climbing.
- Get to see the local farmers getting ready for harvesting or the harvesting process.
- A large number of crowds
- 2nd most expensive time to travel
- Far fewer tourists
- Clear skies and great views
- Tibetan pilgrims: Pilgrims from all over Tibet pour into Lhasa during the winter months. Pilgrims visit the Jokhang and the major monasteries during these months. You can see Tibetans from all walks of life. You can experience Lhasa’s devout heart — multitudes of Tibetans practicing Tibetan Buddhism.
- Cheaper prices
- Faster permits with fewer problems
- Cold Weather
- Unless you have a group of your own, you likely won’t be able to join a group tour in the winter. Due to fewer travelers, most travel agents can only run private tours in the winter.
- The closing of roads due to weather conditions. You may have difficulty reaching destinations like Mt. Kailash, Lake Namtso, Kham and Amdo due to bitter cold and road conditions.
- You can’t stay over at Everest Base Camp (EBC). Most of the lodging tents close down during winter. Hence, you can only come in for a view as a day trip.
Is it Risky for Young Kids and the Elderly to Visit Tibet?
No, Tibet is not risky for young kids and the elderly. Famous places of Tibet like Lhasa, Nyinchi, Shigatse are fine for a family (with kids or elderly) to visit.
If still unsure, you can schedule your visit around May-June and October for the pleasant tour.
It’s the time when the oxygen content in the air in Lhasa reaches its highest. It accounts for 66.3％ on average.
These months also have pleasant weather which is suitable for a family tour with young kids and the elderly.
Tibet does have some inhospitable regions in the remote, center areas in Ngari and Nagqu area. Yet, as long as the kids or elderly have no respiratory or cardiovascular illnesses, they can tour in Tibet.
A visit to Tibet is possible throughout the year except mid-February to March. Each season presents a unique opportunity for the traveler.
Hence, depending on your needs and interests, you can choose the perfect month to do your Tibet tour.
For any further queries or questions about your Tibet tour or any treks or tours to Nepal, feel free to contact us.