The climate on the Tibetan plateau is cold and typical of the high-altitude plateau climate. However, Tibet is a huge tract of land, and the different regions of Tibet have varying climates. Another notable feature of Tibet’s climate is dryness. The Tibetans call Tibet “The Land of Snows.” Yet, most of the years, Tibet only receives average annual precipitation (rain and snow) of around 18 inches (460 mm) and much of this precipitation falls during the summer months from May to September.
In general, the climate in Western(Ngari) and Northern Tibet(Nagqu) is cold and dry; while the climate in Eastern(Chamdo) and Southern(Lhoka/Shannan) is moderate and humid. There’re obvious vertical climate zones in Tibet.
So for travelers, the best time to have a Tibet tour is during Spring and Summer, specifically, from the months of April up to October, though you can visit some parts of Tibet all year-round. Here is very detailed climate information, including the weather in popular tourist destinations.
Weather Conditions in the Tourist Destinations
If you are touring Tibet, you might be interested in the Tibetan weather conditions of the tourist spots frequently visited in Tibet.
1. Climate in Lhasa
Lhasa is the capital city of Tibet. It is situated at an altitude of 3,500 meters (11,500 feet) above sea level. It is also referred to as “the city of sunlight” because of the ample sunlight it receives throughout the year. In fact, it has almost 3,021 hours of daytime every year as compared to the Sichuan and Taipei Basins which receive only 1,000 hours of sunshine per year.
Summer in Lhasa is also mild with cold nights. During winter, nights are freezing cold, but it’s still warm in the daytime. On winter nights, you have more chances to view the starry sky. Sometimes, light snowfall occurs.
The best months to visit Lhasa are May, June, September, and October. July and August are the rainiest months, but it mainly rains at night, so your tour plan will not get affected. Moreover, Lhasa has a relatively mild climate throughout the year. It is neither too cold during winter, nor too hot during summer. So, Lhasa is a perfect destination to visit of the year.
2. Climate in Everest Base Camp
The best place where you can have a clearer view of Mount Everest—the highest mountain in the world—is at Everest Base Camp (EBC). It is situated in the west of the Tibetan plateau and belongs to Shigatse Prefecture. It is at the edge of the Subcontinent of India, and thus, the Indian Monsoon still influences it, bringing in clouds and moisture during the months from June to August. The cold months on Everest are from December to January.
So, if you want to have a trekking tour at the foot of Mount Everest, you should visit the Everest Base Camp in-between the rainiest and the coldest months. This means the best time to visit EBC is from April to May and September to November. During these months, the climate is moderate.
3. Climate in Shigatse
Just like the climate in Lhasa, Shigatse—the second largest city in Tibet—has clearly demarcated wet and dry seasons. January and February are the driest time of the year. Shigatse is slightly higher than Lhasa in altitude and is closer to the Himalayas than Lhasa. It has semi-arid and harsher weather than Lhasa.
The best months to tour Shigatse are from April to November, considering that the temperatures are fairly stable during these months. The best time for trekking tours here is from April to May as well as from September to October. Still, you can travel to Shigatse all year round.
4. Climate in Mount Kailash and Manasarovar Area
Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar are two sacred places by several faiths – Buddhists, Hindus, Jains, and Bons. These two places are nearby and all located in Ngari Prefecture.
Tibet is a vast and expansive tract of land with a variable climate from region to region. So, the best time to visit Tibet depends on where you would like to visit and what you want to see. You can visit Lhasa, Shigatse, Lhoka, and Nyingchi all year round due to the mild climate. But Ngari(where Mt.Kailash and Lake Manasarovar are located) and Nagqu(Lake Namtso) are not advisable during winter time – from November to March due to the harsh climate.
From April to May is good for visiting EBC, and September to November for a clearer view of Mt.Everest; From September to October is good for visiting Mt.Kailash; while you can visit Nyingchi during spring and autumn due to the splendid scenery of peach blossom.
And of course, when to come is entirely up to your schedule, even if your preferred time is not on the recommendation list, we can still arrange your trip. We provide various Tibet group tour packages with multiple departure dates for your choice. If you have anything unclear, please feel free to contact us.