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Tibet Weather in December: Tibet temperature and how to plan a Tibet tour in December

March,14 2019 BY Kham Sang 0 COMMENTS

Tibet in December begins to enter into the severe winter, with temperature getting much colder all across the region, although not as cold as many people in the west believe. While it can be cold in December, the bright sun and strong sunlight can make it feel a lot warmer than it really is.

Across the region, the average monthly temperatures range from -6 degrees to around 9 degrees. And the high altitude and sunny dry weather make it feel warmer than the temperature suggests. Actually, one can only feel extremely cold in the morning and evening during this time. December is also completely devoid of rain, and across the entire region, the colder weather turns the possibility of rain into snow.

While many people think that winter in Tibet is not a good time to travel to the region, the plateau weather in December is more than suitable for tourists to travel in. The region still has plenty of things to see and do in the winter month, and there are distinct advantages to traveling to Tibet in the low season, which far outweighs the colder weather of the plateau in December.

Average Minimum Temperature (℃): -6
Average Maximum Temperature (℃): 9
Tibet Average Temperature (℃): 3
Average Precipitation/Rainfall (mm): 0
Wet Days (>0.1mm): 3
Relative Humidity (%): 37
(Overall Tibet weather in December)

Table of Tibet Weather in December

Most-Visited Places of Tibet and Lhasa to Kathmandu Overland Tour in December

The weather in December may become harsher and severely colder, but that does not mean there is nothing to do but sit in front of the fire and drink tea, though that is a lovely way to spend a snowy evening in the Lhasa teahouses. Across the region, attractions can still be visited, and while not all of them are still accessible, many are still free from snowed-up roads and passes.

Actually, December has a very distinct advantage for travelers to Tibet that makes it an ideal place to visit. Aside from the fact that there are fewer tourists making the trip to Tibet, one can also enjoy lower prices of travel cost, as hotels and guesthouses offer staggering discounts for travelers in the winter low season. Train and flight tickets can also be cheaper in the winter months.

>> Learn more of winter tours in Tibet

Lhasa Tibet Weather in December

Average Minimum Temperature (℃): -8
Average Maximum Temperature (℃): 8
Average Precipitation/Rainfall (mm): 1
Rainy Days: 0
Relative Humidity (%): 71
Average Wind Speed (kmph): 12.6

When it comes to December, the temperatures in Lhasa are dropping, with daytime temperatures of around 8 degrees, falling to around -8 degrees at night. However, the days feel warm in this “City of Sunlight”, as there is abundant sunshine provided for the whole region. Plus the low latitude, Lhasa in December is indeed a good place to visit in Tibet, with the bright sun feeling warmer against the skin. Even if it rains or snows by chance, your sightseeing around this city will be not affected. The other way around, the Tibetan-style architectures and temples display a different sense of beauty in the snow.

visit to the magnificent PotalaOur clients paid a visit to the magnificent Potala Palace on a sunny day of December.

In Lhasa, the city is mostly free for many tourists, which makes the attractions easier to get into, and sometimes without a limited visiting time, as can be seen at the Potala Palace in the summer months. The palace appears to be coated in frost in the early mornings, which enhances the view of this stunning 16th-century building. And down in the center of the city, the Jokhang Temple is surrounded by local Tibetan pilgrims, making the most of the quieter time of the year for them to make the journey to the capital to pray and give offerings at the region’s most sacred building.

>> Check for more Lhasa tours in Tibet

Namtso Tibet Weather in December

Average Minimum Temperature (℃): -20
Average Maximum Temperature (℃): 8
Average Precipitation/Rainfall (mm): 3
Rainy Days: 2

To the north, Lake Namtso is starting to freeze, with daytime temperatures of around 8 degrees, and nights that can drop as low as -20 degrees, freezing the waters of this saline lake, despite it having a very high salt content. Even though the roads to the lake will be closed to traffic when there is heavy snow, Lake Namtso can still be accessible. With new road paved over the high pass, vehicles have a better chance of getting to the frozen lake for a visit.

The beautiful Namtso Lake in winter monthThe beautiful Namtso Lake in winter month

However, camping at the lakeshore is no longer possible during this time of winter season, and hotels and restaurants at Tashi dor Peninsula will be demolished (even if it is not demolished in previous years, it is also rarely open for business in this period). It is best to head to the surrounding Damxung County or Yangpachen for accommodation, and the latter is more recommended because you can enjoy a refreshing time in the hot springs there.

Nyingchi Tibet Weather in December

Average Minimum Temperature (℃): -4.6
Average Maximum Temperature (℃): 9.6
Average Precipitation/Rainfall (mm): 0.99

Nyingchi in winter is generally less rainy with lower temperature. The day is warm, while the night temperature is very low. Although the most beautiful season of Nyingchi region is still spring and autumn, winter is really the off-season, when fewer people pay a visit to this “Swimland of Tibet”. If lucky, you will also see the spectacular snow view of the Namcha Barwa Mountain. Due to the dry season, the climate is very dry, skin care moisturizers are advised to carry when touring Nyingchi area in December.

Shannan Tibet Weather in December

Average Minimum Temperature (℃): -11
Average Maximum Temperature (℃): 8
Average Precipitation/Rainfall (mm): 2

Despite the Shannan area in December is snowy and chilly, sunny weather comes almost every day, with blue sky and white clouds. There is still big temperature difference between morning and evening, and night temperature will drop to minus 20 degrees. Generally, the climate in Shannan is comfortable, and is suitable for travelling around during this time. It is a nice choice to visit the famous Samye Monastery and Chongye Valley when you travel to this region.

Samye Monastery in Shannan TibetSamye Monastery in Shannan Tibet

Yamdrok Lake Tibet Weather in December

Average Minimum Temperature (℃): -11
Average Maximum Temperature (℃): 8
Average Precipitation/Rainfall (mm): 2

Unlike Namtso Lake, the Yamdrok Lake is much more accessible during the winter months, as there is smoothly-paved asphalt road connected to the city of Lhasa. Due to the low temperature, the lake will occasionally become frozen in December, you can also see attractive blue water surrounded by snow-capped mountains. During this time when fewer tourists pay a visit to the holy lake, you can take photos as you like in different shooting angles.

Yamdrok Lake scenery in winter monthsYamdrok Lake scenery in winter months

Gyantse Tibet Weather in December

Average Minimum Temperature (℃): -13
Average Maximum Temperature (℃): 5
Average Precipitation/Rainfall (mm): 0.4
Rainy Days: 2
Relative Humidity (%): 41

In December, Gyantse is rather cold but there is strong sunshine shining across this ancient town during this time. It is dry with little rainfall, and you can hardly see flying snows. Compared to other regions of Tibet, Gyantse offers superior weather conditions for travelling around in December. Except for taking in the far view of Gyantse Fortress, tourists are recommended to visit the famous Pelkor Monastery and Gyantse Kumbum, which are featured religious resorts in Tibet.

The majestic Pelkor Monastery is a must-see in GyantseThe majestic Pelkor Monastery is a must-see in Gyantse.

Shigatse Tibet Weather in December

Average Minimum Temperature (℃): -12
Average Maximum Temperature (℃): 8
Average Precipitation/Rainfall (mm): 0.02mm
Rainy Days: 0
Relative Humidity (%): 37
Average Wind Speed (kmph): 8.9

While Shigatse does have lower temperatures at night, dropping to as low as -22 degrees, in the daytime, the temperatures can reach as high as 12 degrees, with frequent sunny days making it feel even warmer. Despite of the strong wind, the warm sunshine makes Shigatse a great place to visit in December. The city is a little warmer than Lhasa during the day and has some stunning attractions. The Tashilhunpo Monastery is one of the most stunning and important monasteries in Tibet, and is the seat of the Panchen Lama, the second highest religious incarnation in Tibetan Buddhism.

EBC Tibet Weather in December

Average Minimum Temperature (℃): -18
Average Maximum Temperature (℃): 6
Average Precipitation/Rainfall (mm): 2
Average Wind Speed (kmph): 8.9

When it comes to December in the mid-winter, the area around Mount Everest is also starting to get frigid and icy, with night temperature dropping to around -18 degrees at the Base Camp (5000 m), while daytimes can still as high as 6 degrees, not such cold as many people assumed. There are plenty of bright sunny days in the whole month, though the wind is strong and many road sections are snow-covered. The skies are also clear at Base Camp in December, making it one of the best months to get a great and clear view of the Everest peak.

Following the smooth way to Everest Base CampFollowing the smooth way to Everest Base Camp.

Though it will be too dangerous and adventurous to trek to Everest Base Camp from Old Tingri, it is still possible to make the trip to the camp. The road to EBC is mostly paved with asphalt, right up to the Rongbuk Monastery at the foot of Rongbuk Glacier, which extends down from the north face of the world’s highest mountain. And the snowy scenery makes for much better photos than the dry and dusty landscape of autumn.

>> Check for the most popular EBC tours in Tibet

Mt. Kailash Tibet Weather in December

Average Minimum Temperature (℃): -20
Average Maximum Temperature (℃): -7
Average Precipitation/Rainfall (mm): 5
Rainy Days: 2.8

Around Mount Kailash region, the snows are getting heavier, with daily average temperatures dropping to as low as -20 degrees. Even during the daytime, the temperatures will mostly reach below zero. Due to heavier snow and high passes, the roads to Mount Kailash will be closed in December, making the trek around the kora impossible until around March or April. If you want to experience the Mount Kailash trekking, you can come here in late spring or autumn.

Lhasa to Kathmandu Overland in December

Kathmandu Average Minimum Temperature (℃): 5
Kathmandu Average Maximum Temperature (℃): 21
Kathmandu Average Precipitation/Rainfall (mm): 4
Kathmandu Rainy Days: 0.6
Kathmandu Relative Humidity (%): 0
Kathmandu Average Wind Speed (kmph): 6
Gyirong Port Average Minimum Temperature (℃) : -12
Gyirong Port Average Maximum Temperature (℃): 8

In Kathmandu, days in December are cool and crispy, with average temperature up to 21 degrees in the daytime. There is a rather small ratio of precipitation for the whole mouth and the length of the day can reach at least 10 hours. Tourists can choose this time to visit Nepal, and it will be more interesting than summer season.

Gyirong Port is the crossing point between Tibet and Nepal for overland tripGyirong Port is the crossing point between Tibet and Nepal for overland trip from Lhasa to Kathmandu.

As a matter of fact, December is the ideal time to take an overland trip from Lhasa to Kathmandu, as the Friendship Highway keeps open and is rarely closed to heavy snows. And tourists will have rare problems taking this route since the road is mostly well-paved with asphalt surface. Unlike the rainy summer season with heavy could, you will also have more chances to see a clearer view of the Himalaya ranges along the way during the dry season of winter months.

Insider Tips:
If you prefer to travel overland from Kathmandu to Lhasa, in addition to the Tibet Permit, you need to apply for China Group Visa with your original passport in Kathmandu. Our staff will help you get it. Since the process of it takes 3 business days, so do leave enough time for it. Our travel consultants will help you deal with the details.

Tibetan Festivals in December

Also known as the Ganden Ngachen Chenmo Festival, the Tsongkhapa Butter Lamp Festival is celebrated to commemorate the death, or “Parinirvana” of the founder of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism, Je Tsongkhapa. Falling on 25th October of Tibetan Calendar, which is normally in December of Solar Calendar, the Tibetan people light up a huge number of butter lanterns on alters and outside the doors of the monasteries and temples across the entire region. As night falls, all the local window sills are decorated with flickering lanterns, and always in odd numbers.

What to pack for traveling Tibet in December?

Tibet in December is cold, without a doubt, and you will need to pack those warm sweaters and thick down or fleece jackets. The colder weather of the plateau means that you will need to have good warm layers to stay warm in the cold, and long underwear can be a major advantage to keep out the intense chill of the Tibetan winter. Warm hats and gloves are necessary, and your socks need to be thick and woolen, to keep out the cold. Boots are the best at this time of year, and thicker pants to keep your legs warm.

However, the sun in December is just as damaging as it is in August, at the height of the summer, so you need to make sure that you have good UV filtering sunglasses, a protective hat, and sun block for all exposed skin. The biting cold winds of the plateau can also damage your face and lips, so lip balm and moisturizers are required to prevent chaffing.

>> Check the ultimate guide about what to pack for Tibet travel

Conclusion

Tibet should not be avoided in December for fear that it is too cold, as the plateau can be very surprising when it comes to the weather and climate. Warm days can be always be found in this region, and despite being very cold at night, the days are warmer and can be very pleasant in December for tourists.

Except for the Ngari Areas including Mount Kailash, which are blocked by snow in winter, many other highlighted attractions in Tibet are still accessible. With abundant sunshine, Lhasa and Shigatse rank as the top destinations to visit during this time. It is also possible to travel to Everest Base Camp, even though heavy snows sometimes may block the road. Just pay attention to the weather broadcast in advance to know about the road condition, if you are going to visit the mountain areas.

Tourists can also expect to experience traditional Tibetan festival, like the Tsongkhapa Butter Lamp Festival, which falls on the month of December. Plus, with fewer tourists traveling to the region, and plenty of discounts available for saving money, there is no reason not to travel to Tibet in December.

Qinghai-Tibet Railway in DecemberSnowy view of Qinghai-Tibet Railway in December.

Potala Palace in December Magnificant view of Potala Palace in December.

Namtso Lake in December The icy world of Namtso Lake in December.

Mount Kailash in December Mount Kailash is covered by snow in December.

Kham Sang

About the Author - Kham Sang

Kham Sang is responsible and honest with more than six years of guide experience in Tibet.She has strong interpersonal skills and can communicate effectively with tourists.

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