The Autonomous Region of Tibet is open every day of the year, and anyone can visit at any time, yet because of its unique geography and vast stretches, each season has its own special charm. As a result, the best time to visit Tibet depends on the visitors’ preference. It is highly dependent on how much of the region you wish to see and what activities you desire to cover.
But, generally speaking, the best time to visit Tibet is between May and October. The weather is excellent and pleasant, and according to scientific figures, the oxygen density is at its peak at this time. In addition, during this season, a number of Tibetan traditional folk festivals are held, providing travelers with an excellent opportunity to gain a thorough grasp of Tibetan culture and to immerse themselves in it.
So, what would be the best time to visit the once restricted region of Tibet according to your interest and preferences? Hope you would find the answers from the detailed breakdown given below:
Guidelines for Best Time to Visit Tibet
Tibet in Spring Season
Spring starts in late March and lasts till May in Tibet. It is when the region truly comes to life. With the end of cold winter, the Tibetan plateau begins to warm up around the end of March and the naked trees begin to produce fresh life in April. The winter snows slowly start melting, the mountain slopes can be seen blanketed in magnificent wildflowers, and the views are nothing short of breathtaking.
The farmers get ready to plant new crops and the locals are seen enjoying the warm sunshine in the streets. Both the Chinese and International tourists start to make their way into Tibet, especially in the capital, Lhasa to witness the sheer grandeur of the place. One of the grandest festivals of Tibet, Saga Dawa Festival also falls in either of the spring month, May, or the summer month, June.
This whole place of the ‘Roof of the World’ used to be closed for any outsiders during the March month due to the national festival. But, as of 2021, it is now open for all travel enthusiasts every day.
Things to Do inTibet During Spring Season
- Peach Blossom Event in Nyingchi
Peach Blossom Event in Nyingchi Prefecture in eastern Tibet is one of the major highlights of the plateau in the spring. The hillsides, low-lying valleys, and riverbanks of this tiny corner gradually transform into a sea of stunning pink and white peach blooms from the middle of March until the end of April. Gala Valley and Nanyi Valley in Nyingchi are the ideal places to see peach blossoms, but wild peach trees can be found virtually everywhere.
- Cultural Tour in Major Cities of Tibet
The major cities of Tibet such as Lhasa, Shigatse, Chamdo, Gyantse, and Tsedang are filled with numerous magnificent cultural and historical landmarks such as the legendary Potala Palace, Sera & Drepung Monastries, Jokhang Temple, Gyangtse Dzong, Kumbum, Tashilungpo Monastery, etc.
- Visit Namtso Lake & Yamdrok Lake
With the warming up weather and melting snow by April, the holy lakes of Namtso and Yamdrok look overwhelmingly stunning. Lake Namtso will gradually thaw, revealing a spectacular panorama of half-frozen and half-melted water. As the light changes, the water of Yamdrok Lake turns into a thousand various colors of blue which is why Tibetans describe Yamdrok Lake as “the turquoise earrings scattered by the Goddess”. These two lakes should not be missed when visiting Tibet in spring.
- Everest Base Camp (Tibet Side)
Spring is one of the best seasons to visit the Qomolangma Base Camp (the northern base camp of Mount Everest), both via Lhasa or overland through Nepal. The weather improves with the end of winter allowing for better views of the peak and some of the most breathtaking picture chances. A relaxing journey from Lhasa to Everest Base Camp, taking the time to enjoy the scenery and acclimate to the growing altitude would be perfect in spring.
Tibet in Summer/Monsoon Season
Summer is known as the greatest time to visit Tibet throughout the year as it is the only time of the year when the temperature reaches 70 degrees during the day. The nights and mornings will be still cold as it lies at the high-altitude level and the weather is lovely and mild. The oxygen level is also higher in the summer, making acclimating to the altitude simpler.
Summer also brings monsoon along with it starting from July to late September, with the majority of the rain falling in August but it does not rain constantly enough to affect travel. However, the monsoon except on the southeast side has little impact on the other parts of the region.
As a result of the "shadow effect," the majority of the rain falls on the mountain ranges' western and southern edges, with relatively little falling in Tibet. The rain that does occur in the summer tends to fall at night, leaving the daytime pleasant, bright, and mainly dry.
Note: Being the most pleasant season in Tibet, with the greatest number of tourists, it is necessary to purchase tickets in advance to make your trip hassle-free.
Things to Do in Tibet During Summer/Monsoon Season
Summer is the highest peak season for Tibetan tourism with numerous activities to do and places to visit. When the grasslands are at their lushest, Tibetans organize their outdoor market fairs, encampments, and sporting competitions. The warm temperature and long days of summer make most of the outdoor activities very agreeable. It is also the best time of the year to see most of the Tibetan culture and tradition.
- Exploring the entire region
Summer is one of the most gorgeous seasons for sightseeing and taking a cultural tour in Tibet. Visitors will be blessed with the structures and landmarks with their best with amazing scenery on the backdrop every time. Potala Palace, Norbulingka, Barkhor Square, Jokhang Temple, Ganden Monastery, Sera Monastery, and Drepung Monastery are some of the most important Buddhist monasteries in Tibet. Short excursions to Yamdrok Tso Lake and Namtso Lake and hikes to Dra Yerpa Cave are also available.
You can see ancient Tibetan cities such as Tsetang (regarded as the cradle of Tibetan culture), Shigatse, Ganden, and others on an overland excursion. Summer is also the best time to visit the remote regions' diverse attractions and to experience the high-altitude vistas when the mountain passes are snow-free.
- Witness Festivals & Events
Numerous cultural festivals take place at this time of year. June has a one-day event Incense Festival while July and August have Sho Dun Festival is held to worship Buddha, Shoton (Yogurt) Festival, Nagqu Horse Racing Festival, and the legendary Ganden Thangka Festival. As a result, July and August are the ideal months for travelers interested in Tibetan festivals.
- Camping Trip in Tibet
Summer months are best for camping in the lush grasslands with the amazing surrounding scenery and starry nights. Monsoon is also the finest season to visit Tibet if you wish to experience genuine Tibetan nomadic culture. Visitors can view the nomads with their yaks and sheep roaming the high plains during the summer and monsoon months although they can bring clouds and rain. You can set your camp near those nomads’ camps and look into their lifestyle.
- Mount Kailash Manasarovar Lake Yatra
Mount Kailash is mostly visited in the summer months of June and September as they are perfect for temple visits, holy water dips, and sightseeing in the surrounding area. The dry and warm days with not-so-cold nights of June make the trek to Mount Kailash Manasarovar Lake comfortable. In addition, the famed Saga Dawa Festival takes place in May or June in Tibet depending on the Tibetan calendar.
The Saga Dawa ceremonies and festivities at Mount Kailash, one of Tibet's most notable festivals, exceed the rest of the region in traditional authenticity and breathtaking experiences. This spectacular event, which commemorates Buddha's birth, enlightenment, and death, is one you should not miss if you're in the Mount Kailash area.
Tibet in Autumn Season
Autumn in Tibet usually lasts from September to October, when the temperature is still pleasant and the skies are bright. Rain will fall on occasion, but for the most part, it will be sunny, dry, and cool. It is one of the best times of the year to visit Tibet, and the sights of the plateau landscape covered with dying leaves and a carpet of autumn-hued color are a sight not to be missed.
The autumn season in Tibet is so powerful that there’s something for everyone. Whatever your motivation for visiting Tibet, the autumn season will provide you with everything you require from touring in nice weather and trekking at the best time of year to taking wonderful shots and going through the most colorful landscape on the plateau. If you don't want to miss the most magnificent scenery of late autumn, visit Tibet during this glorious season.
Things to Do in Tibet during autumn:
Along with sightseeing and exploring activities around the major cities, there are a number of activities that are well worth doing in autumn in the Tibet Autonomous Region.
- Adventure Trip in Tibet
Autumn is also the greatest time to go hiking, cycling, trekking, etc. Hiking to the outskirts of Lhasa, Ganden to Samye Trek, Shalu to Nartang Trek, Advanced Everest Base Camp Trek, Mountain Kailash Trek, etc. are some of the best and most famous hiking and trekking journeys in Tibet.
Cycling from Lhasa to Kathmandu is a wonderful adventure for adventure seekers in autumn. Autumn is also a fantastic time to go to Tibet overland through the famous Friendship Highway enjoying the marvelous autumn landscape of Nepal to another end in Tibet.
- Festival Tours in Tibet
Harvest festivals of Tibet are held during the months of the autumn season giving travelers insight into the unique culture and tradition. The renowned Bathing Festival takes place in Tibet around the beginning of September, when locals perform a bathing ritual in the region's streams and lakes.
Then there's the Ongkor Festival, which is conducted throughout the plateau's farming areas to pray for a successful harvest. The celebration includes a "kora"(circumambulation) parade through the fields, with singing and dancing, and "Ongkor" literally means "surrounding the fields." And, October sees an influx of Chinese tourists celebrating National Day.
- Photography Tour in Tibet
While photography in Tibet is wonderful at all times of the year, with breathtaking vistas and scenery, many professional photographers consider autumn to be the ideal time to shoot in Tibet. The shifting hues over the plateau provide for some of the best photographs, and the autumn season is the best time to capture Nyingchi's highly alpine locations in Southeast Tibet.
There is no better time to photograph the stunning vistas of Tibet's famous "Swiss Alps" than in autumn, from the heights of Mount Namche Barwa to the depths of the Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Gorge, the deepest gorge in the world. What greater shot could there be than the towering Mount Everest, with its highest peak piercing into the sky, or Mount Kailash, with its pyramid-like shape luring Buddhist and Hindu visitors from all over the world in the far west of the Tibetan region?
Tibet in Winter Season
Tibet's winter lasts for a long time, usually from November to late March or early April. The winters of Tibet are bitterly cold due to its location at the top of the earth. The weather is typically dry, sunny, and very cold with temperatures dropping well below freezing at night.
Some locations and roads are often closed in the winter months due to heavy snowfall. But, traveling to Tibet is not impossible. Many regions of the country are inaccessible due to mountain passes being closed, so you'll be confined to the cities if you visit in the winter. On the other hand, with fewer other tourists around, this is a fantastic time to see Tibet at its most peaceful.
Also, winter is perfect for you to visit Tibet especially if you are on a budget trip as the hotels and travel agencies offer off-season rates.
On top of all, Tibet's mountains are absolutely stunning in the winter, with excellent visibility.
Things to Do in Tibet during the winter:
- Enjoy exploration in Lhasa
In Lhasa, winter means fewer tourists and fewer people trying to cram into the Potala Palace and the Jokhang Temple at the same time. This allows you to take a more leisurely tour through the principal sights of the Tibetan capital, taking your time to appreciate some of the world's most magnificent Buddhist temples. Historical attractions such as Lhasa's Potala Palace and Norbulingka are the top choices.
- Celebrate local festivals
Tibetan celebrations are best enjoyed in the winter. And, one of the best methods to learn about local cultures and customs is to attend festivals. Winter celebrates many festivals such as Lamp Lighting Festival commemorating a great Tibetan reformer named Tsong Khapa, Exorcism Festival, Lhabab Duchen (Buddha’s Descent Day), Lotus Lantern Festival and Tibetan New Year called Lhosar.
The Tibetan New Year is usually celebrated in February with a week-long festival of horse races, archery, and dance. Staying in Lhasa for the Tibetan New Year which falls in February is also one-of-a-kind and unforgettable event.
- Bird Watching in Tibet
Thousands of migratory birds migrate down from Northern Asia to Tibet during the chilly winter months to spend a warm winter. The vast rivers and wetlands around Lhasa and Shigatse such as the Lhasa River, the Lalu Wetlands, Zongjiao Lukang Park, and the Hutoushan Reservoir in Lhünzhub County are the best place for bird watching in Tibet. Winter is also a fantastic opportunity to capture the magnificence of those birds. It's also simpler to capture shots in the winter because there are fewer tourists.
Regardless of the weather, Tibet is a beautiful place and you will get an amazing experience any time you choose to go. The obvious conclusion is to figure out what you want to see and get out of your trip, then match it to the greatest time of year for the various activities and availability of your own particular requirements. You may go at any time of year and still experience the breathtaking grandeur of the ‘Roof of the World’.