What's great about a trip to Tibet?
Tibet is a stunning destination with a unique climate that has an influence on when the best time to visit is. Nestled in the heart of the Himalayas it’s a destination that appeals to people who love adventure and for those looking for a unique cultural experience and though travel to Tibet can be physically demanding, as its altitude is high, the sense of accomplishment and the memories you'll create are well worth it.
In this blog we're going to look at the best time to visit so that you can make the most of your trip to this beautiful region but before we do that we’ll first look at why Tibet is such an amazing destination for travellers:
So why visit Tibet?
With its spectacular natural beauty Tibet has the most awe-inspiring landscapes, including the world's highest peaks, including Mount Everest. The rugged Himalayan mountains, pristine lakes like Yamdrok and Namtso and extensive grasslands create a mesmerising and stunning backdrop for any one who chooses to visit.
It has a rich cultural history and is deeply rooted in Tibetan Buddhism. This spiritual influence permeates every aspect of life. The stunning monasteries, such as the Potala Palace and Jokhang Temple showcase intricate architecture and priceless religious artifacts. Visit Tibet and witness monks in their daily rituals, a fascinating cultural experience.
Timing your trip to coincide with one of Tibet's many festivals is a good way to observe the vibrant traditions of music and dance with the colourful costumes of the Tibetan people.
The people of Tibet are also known for being warm and welcoming with a willingness to share their culture and traditions with visitors.
For adventurers Tibet has some of the most exciting treks and hikes in the world. Trekking to Mount Everest Base Camp is a dream for many people but there are also lots of other trekking routes available that pass through stunning landscapes.
This highlights just a few of the many reasons to visit Tibet so read on to find out when is the best time to go to experience many more.
High Season in Tibet ( May to October)
Tibet's high tourist season typically falls between May and October when the weather is relatively mild and more suitable for travel. During these months the temperatures are relatively mild, making it an ideal time to visit. Daytime temperatures can range from 15 to 25 degrees Celsius (59 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit) a lovely environment to explore the region. Be aware that Tibet's high altitude will mean that nights will be cold or at least cool, so it's worth bringing extra layers to stay warm. This season though has beautiful clear skies and stunning views of the Himalayas, enhancing the overall experience of your trip to Tibet.
Here's what you can do in Tibet during the high season
- You can start your journey in the capital city, Lhasa and explore the iconic Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, and Barkhor Street. The mild weather makes it easier to acclimatise to the high altitude.
- If you love adventure you may fancy trekking in the Everest Base Camp region or in other areas to take in the stunning landscapes of the Himalayas. The clear skies during this season provide breathtaking views of the mountains.
- By participating in various festivals that often occur during the high season you can experience the Tibetan culture. The Saga Dawa Festival and Shoton Festival are two significant celebrations to enjoy.
- Tibet is home to numerous ancient monasteries. Don't miss out on visiting Ganden Monastery, Sera Monastery, and Tashilhunpo Monastery.
- This is one of the highest saltwater lakes in the world and offering a unique and wonderful experience to experience the stunning landscapes..
- The high Season is the perfect time for hiking and camping due to the mild weather.
Keep in mind that while the high season offers lots of advantages it's also the busiest time for tourists in Tibet so it's worth booking accommodations and permits in advance to make sure you make the most of your trip.
Shoulder Season in Tibet ( April to June, September to October)
The shoulder season in Tibet typically falls during late spring and early autumn, from April to early June and September to October and during these months the weather is relatively mild and stable, making it a great time to visit.
In the spring shoulder season (April to early June), Tibet starts to thaw out from the cold of winter and as the temperatures gradually rise the landscapes come to life with lots of beautiful wildflowers. The days are nice and warm, with temperatures ranging from 10°C to 20°C (50°F to 68°F) so its a perfect time to trek and explore the stunning natural beauty of Tibet.
In the autumn shoulder season (September to October), Tibet has clear skies and comfortable temperatures ranging from 15°C to 25°C (59°F to 77°F) perfect for outdoor activities. It is also the harvest season so there are lots of local culture and festivals on offer, including the famous Tibetan Shoton Festival.
What to do in Tibet during the shoulder season
- Explore Tibets capital and its historical sites like the Potala Palace and Jokhang Temple.
- If you love trekking at altitude then Everest Base Camp or the scenic Namtso Lake are great places to go. Plus, since it's not the peak tourist season there'll be fewer crowds and accommodations should be more affordable.
- Tibetan cuisine might not be as famous as some other Asian cuisines but it has a charm all of its own. Try yak meat dishes, momos (dumplings), and tsampa (roasted barley flour) to try the local flavours.
- Tibet's high-altitude locations make it the perfect place to go stargazing. With its clear, unpolluted skies you can see a breathtaking tapestry of stars, hard to find elsewhere.
- Speak with the locals to gain a more profound understanding of their way of life, which revolves around spirituality, nomadic traditions and a deep connection to the land.
So, whether you prefer the landscapes of spring or the clear skies of autumn, Tibet's shoulder seasons provide you with a fantastic opportunity to experience the best of this unique destination.
Low season in Tibet (December to February)
The low season in Tibet falls during the winter months, from December to February.
These are the months when the weather in Tibet can be quite cold with temperatures often dropping below freezing, especially at night. Daytime temperatures usually hover between 5 to 10 degrees Celsius (41 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit) and the air is crisp and clear, the perfect time for taking photos as you'll get the most stunning views of snow-capped mountains against the bright blue skies.
Things to do in Tibet during the low season
While some of the higher-altitude trekking routes might be inaccessible due to heavy snow there are still lots of things to do.
- If you visit Lasa during the low season it means you can visit lots of iconic attractions like the Potala Palace and Jokhang Temple. There are fewer crowds during the low season which will make your time in Tibet more peaceful, serene and reflective.
- The grand Losar Festival marks the Tibetan New Year and usually falls in February, the low season. If you visit during this season it is well worth getting involved in this festival as it is vibrant and culturally rich with lots of colourful processions, traditional dances and rituals.
- If you're a fan of winter sports you can explore the Nyingchi region for some skiing or snowboarding.
While the low season in Tibet is a lot colder it means you have the opportunity to see Tibet in a more intimate way with its stunning winter landscapes. Make sure you pack warm clothing and check for any travel restrictions or permits required during this time.
When is the best month to travel to Tibet
In general the best months to go to Tibet are from April to October. Temperatures are quite mild, the skies are clear and the conditions are better to get involved in outdoor activities.
April to June is the spring season, the best time to see the beautiful wildflowers across the Tibetan landscape.
July to August is summer in Tibet so the weather will be the warmest of the year and an ideal time for trekking and exploring the high-altitude areas Be aware that it can get busy with tourists during the peak season.
Moving into September and October, which is the autumn season in Tibet, the days are lovely and crisp so you will get stunning views of the Himalayan peaks. The leaves also change colour at this time of year so it is a beautiful time to visit.
However be aware that the altitude is high in Tibet, as this can create some health challenges. To acclimatise properly it's worth spending your first few days in Lhasa to adapt to the altitude gradually. Also, check the local travel regulations, as Tibet requires a special travel permit for tourists and these rules can change.
So the best time to visit Tibet will very much depend on your preferences. If you like milder weather and beautiful colourful landscapes then spring and autumn are great times to go. If you prefer warmer weather and outdoor adventures, then summer is great but obviously a lot busier. Be aware of this when planning your trip to Tibet.
How many days do i need in Tibet?
The number of days you will need in Tibet will vary depending on what you want to do when you are there. The recommendation is probably spending at least 7 to 10 days there so you can properly immerse yourself in its unique culture and stunning landscapes.
A possible itinerary could be:
1. Start your journey in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. Spend a few days here to acclimatize to the high altitude and explore its attractions, including the Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, and Barkhor Street and maybe a trip to the Drepung Monastery and Sera Monastery.
2. Visit Gyantse (1-2 days), a historic town known for its fort and the Pelkor Chode Monastery where the drive to it gives you the most breathtaking views of the Tibetan plateau.
3. Visit Shigatse (1-2 days), Tibet's second-largest city and visit the Tashilhunpo Monastery, one of the most important monasteries in Tibet.
3. If you're up for an adventure its definitely worth taking a trip to Everest Base Camp. It's a long drive, but the views of Mount Everest are worth it. You can spend a night at a guesthouse near the base camp to soak up the amazing scenery.
4. Return to Lhasa (1 day) and head back to Lhasa to catch your flight or train out of Tibet.
This itinerary will allow you to experience all of Tibet's cultural heritage, religious sites and its natural beauty.
Is it difficult to visit Tibet?
Travelling to Tibet can be an exciting and experience but it is essential to be prepared. The difficulty of a trip to Tibet depends on a variety of factors, including where you start, the time of year you choose to go and the overall state of your health and fitness.
Its worth considering:
- Altitude: Tibet is known as the "Roof of the World" because of its high altitude. Lhasa, the capital, sits at over 11,000 feet (3,400 meters). Altitude sickness is a real concern, so acclimatisation is crucial. Take it easy for the first few days to allow your body to adjust.
- Permits: Tibet requires special permits for foreign travellers and you usually need to join an organised tour with a licensed tour operator. Obtaining these permits can be a bit of paperwork, so plan ahead.
- Weather: The weather in Tibet can be harsh with cold winters and cool summers so its best to visit during the warmer months from May to October when the weather makes it easier to travel.
- Remote Locations: Some of Tibet's most beautiful and culturally significant sites, like Everest Base Camp or the holy Mount Kailash, are in remote areas with limited infrastructure so be prepared for basic accommodations and long journeys.
- Cultural Sensitivity: Tibet has a unique and deeply spiritual culture. It's essential to be respectful of local customs, particularly in places like monasteries and temples.
A trip to Tibet is a challenge due to its high altitude and unique regulations, but it will be an extremely rewarding experience if you are well-prepared and respectful of the local culture. Make sure to plan your trip carefully though and make sure to go at the right time so your journey is as enjoyable as possible.