Springtime cherry blossoms in Japan; winter skiing in the Swiss Alps – these are just a few iconic examples of how the changing of the seasons play an important role in travel plans.
Travelling to the Roof of the World is no different. From summer mountain biking on the back side of Yala Mountain, to witnessing the annual Saka Dawa festival in the spring, the season in which you visit Tibet can influence the activities and experiences you’ll include in your travel itinerary.
Here’s a rundown of how Tibet travel differs across the seasons and some insider recommendations on the best times of year to visit to satisfy your interests.
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Central Tibet reopens to foreigners in early April to the commencement of peak travel season, which then runs all the way till end of October.
Springtime is an extremely popular time to visit Tibet as temperatures are mild and there is little rain. These conditions allow for spectacular views of the Himalaya range and are why May is the peak season for climbers to attempt Everest.
Spring is also a good time to take in the region’s other natural wonders including the peach blossoms in full bloom near Linzhi and the pristine Yamdrok Lake.
Summer is the busiest travel season, and it’s easy to see why: the warm weather makes for easy travel and transport, and the air has a higher oxygen content, making it easier for foreigners to acclimatize and lessening their chance of altitude sickness.
There are also a wide variety of cultural events that take place, including Sho Dun Festival, Ganden Thangka Festival, and many Horse Festivals. The Tagong horse festival in particular, is a sight to behold and a highlight for many Extravagant Yak tourists. During this annual celebration, thousands of local herdsmen participate in horse races as spectators cheer on and celebrate with games, singing, and dancing.
Monsoon season begins mid-June and usually runs till August, which means these months are generally cloudier. If you’re trekking in the mountains during monsoon months you may not get clear, panoramic views. However, this is also the time when the alpine flowers bloom and the mountains are lush with greenery.
Come autumn, sweeping foliage transforms the region into a stunning landscape of red and gold hues. Rainfall decreases in September and the weather generally remains pleasant throughout October. These make for excellent hiking conditions, so if you’d like to fit some trekking in to your travels, this is a great season to do so! Some of our guests’ favorites include trekking the Minya Konka and exploring the Ambalay grasslands while enjoying an Eastern Tibet Nomad Experience.
The autumn season also brings the harvest festival, a celebration of the year’s crop harvest. Join the locals and participate in the potato and highland barley harvest in Kham (Eastern) Tibet.
From November onwards, the weather starts to cool down, and the peak travel season tapers off.
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Very few people visit Tibet in winter, making this a good time to visit if you’re looking to avoid tourist crowds. Thrifty travellers can take advantage of low season rates, as hotel prices and entry to many locations are also heavily discounted. This also means that fewer group tours are available, so private tours are a good option to consider!
The weather during the winter months is typically dry, sunny and very cold. Most places (including Everest Base Camp) can still be visited, with the sunny weather usually allowing for clear views from Everest Base Camp. However, destinations including Nam Tso Lake, Mt Kailash and other trekking routes may have limited or no access depending on snowfall.
It is important to note that Central Tibet, where Lhasa and Mount Everest are located, is closed to foreign tourists annually in February and March, so be sure to plan accordingly!
While there’s no bad time for a trip to the Roof of the World, keep these considerations in mind to ensure that you visit all your bucket list destinations and make the most out of your trip.
And on that note, let’s get planning! We’re here to help you build the itinerary of a lifetime. Get in touch with us with your travel wish list.
One more thing: When planning your visit to Tibet, remember to factor in VISA processing times. Check out this article to learn all you need to about how to get a Tibet travel permit.