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

November,07 2019 BY Master Kungga Dundruk 0 COMMENTS

January is the peak of the winter weather in Tibet, and while some areas of Tibet experience extreme cold and heavy snow, most of the plateau is a little warmer than many imagined. It is generally dry and windy, with large temperature difference between day and night. Daytimes can be as warm as 13 degrees, with temperatures at night dropping to as low as -12 degrees. But with bright sunny days and clear skies, the cold is not as intense as it could be, and traveling in the area in January is pleasant.

And while most tourists tend to visit Tibet from April to October, there is something to be said for the innate beauty of the region that means it can sometimes be even more spectacular in the depths of winter. January is in fact a great time to visit Lhasa and Nyingchi, where the weather gets progressively milder than the western areas. Despite Lake Namtso and Mount Kailash become inaccessible due to the heavy snow, one can still drive all the way to Everest Base Camp to gaze at the peak of the world’s highest mountain.

Besides, Tibet tours in January are cheaper than tours in the peak months. Accommodation is often cheaper, with plenty of discounts as the hotels have few guests, tickets on flights, trains, and some attractions are also discounted in the winter months, which help to save more on the overall cost of the tour.

Average Minimum Temperature (℃): -12 
Average Maximum Temperature (℃): 13 
Tibet Average Temperature (℃): 1 
Average Precipitation/Rainfall (mm): 1 
Wet Days (>0.1mm): 0 
Relative Humidity (%): 45 
(Overall Tibet weather in January)

Table of Tibet weather in January

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

January may be the depths of winter, but that does not mean there is nothing to do. Tibet is a land where there is always something happening, or something to see, and the landscape itself does not take a break in the winter months. If anything, winter can make the stunning Tibetan landscape look even more beautiful.

Indeed, if you want to see the plateau in all its winter glory, January is the best time to go. It is a great time to get a better experience of the reality of Tibetan life and culture, since the plateau is more open for a relaxing tour during this time. With fewer tourists coming to the land, January is the ideal time to travel for those that do not want to experience the cramped and crowded attractions of the peak season.

>> Learn more of winter tours in Tibet.

Lhasa Tibet Weather in January

Average Minimum Temperature (℃): -9
Average Maximum Temperature (℃): 7
Average Precipitation/Rainfall (mm): 1
Rainy Days: 1.5
Relative Humidity (%): 70
Average Wind Speed (kmph): 12

Lhasa is the main place to visit in winter months, and since it is the Tibetan center, it is where most tours will start anyway. The city is known as the “City of Sunshine”, as it gets more hours of sunlight through the year than almost anywhere else in Tibet. In January, the temperature in Lhasa varies between 7 degrees and -9 on average. With almost no rain at all, the skies are clear and bright, and the sun streams down on the city, keeping you comfortably warm.

Lhasa is the main place to visit in winter monthsPaying a visit to the stunning Potala in January.

It is a good time to experience the leisurely daily life of Lhasa people, drinking tea and chatting with them in the sun. Inside the city are the stunning Potala Palace and the sacred Jokhang Temple, must-see attractions for every visitor, and the center of Tibetan religion and culture. Outside, in the outskirts, are a host of temples, monasteries, and nunneries, as well as the beautiful Lhasa River, which flows through the valley to the south of the city.

>> Check for more Lhasa tours in Tibet.

Namtso Tibet Weather in January

Average Minimum Temperature (℃): -10
Average Maximum Temperature (℃): 7
Average Precipitation/Rainfall (mm): 0
Rainy Days: 0

As one of the three holy lakes in Tibet, Namtso Lake sits quite near to Lhasa city, while the weather of the lake is much colder than the latter, due to the high elevation reaching nearly 4,700 meters. The lake starts to get frozen from December, and will be completely unfrozen until May of the next year. During the winter months, including January, Namtso Lake will be closed for maintenance. Besides, the road to Namtso Lake from Lhasa is always too icy to drive during that period. Therefore it is suggested to visit Namtso Lake from May to November.

Nyingchi Tibet Weather in January

Average Minimum Temperature (℃): -5
Average Maximum Temperature (℃): 8.5
Average Precipitation/Rainfall (mm): 1.82
Rainy Days: 2.8

In Nyingchi, to the east of Lhasa, the temperatures are much warmer than other parts of Tibet, mostly due to the lower elevation of the prefecture. January is the coldest month in Nyingchi, and temperatures drop to a balmy eight degrees during the day, at their coldest. Nights are a little colder, though rarely dropping below -2 degrees.

Namcha Barwa Mountain in JanuaryThe magnificent Namcha Barwa Mountain in January.

Nyingchi is known as the “Swiss Alps” of Tibet, and rightly so, as it has a very alpine climate, with warmer winter months than anywhere else on the plateau. The beauty of Nyingchi lies in its natural landscape of high mountains, deep valleys, and lush foliage. An alpine area of intense natural beauty, even in January, this stunning landscape is worth a visit.

>> Find out more of tours in Nyingchi.

Shannan Tibet Weather in January

Average Minimum Temperature (℃): -10
Average Maximum Temperature (℃): 6
Average Precipitation/Rainfall (mm): 0

The average temperature of Shannan in January is -10 to 6 degrees, similar to that of Lhasa. It is relatively cold in the morning and evening, so it is recommended to reduce the activities during this period. In January, the temperature in Shannan may reach up to 18 degrees when there is warm sunshine. So, just like Lhasa, Shannan is one of the best choices of winter tour in Tibet. One can go outside the city to walk the kora around the old temples like Samye Monastery.

Yamdrok Lake Tibet Weather in January

Average Minimum Temperature (℃): -12.39
Average Maximum Temperature (℃): 2.53
Average Precipitation/Rainfall (mm): 0.32

Different from the frozen Namtso Lake, Yamdrok Lake in winter months shows another beautiful scene. The water of Yamdrok Lake is still jewelry blue, with a layer of thin ice covering the lake surface. The water keeps meandering under the ice layer. One can take a distant view of the lake and its surrounding snow-capped mountains at the roadside when driving from Lhasa to west Tibet. Or you can also walk closely to the lakeside to take a clear sight of the lake water, which always glitters in the sun.

Yamdrok Lake in JanuaryThe water of Yamdrok Lake is still jewelry blue in January.

Gyantse Tibet Weather in January

Average Minimum Temperature (℃): -14
Average Maximum Temperature (℃): 5.5
Average Precipitation/Rainfall (mm): 0.23
Rainy Days: 0
Relative Humidity (%): 33

Driving west about 250 kilometers from Lhasa city will reach the ancient town of Gyanste. With a relatively higher altitude than Lhasa, being 4000 meters, Gyanste in January is kind of comfortable. The temperature varies from 5.5 degrees to -14 at the coldest. There is very little rain here, with frequent sun brightly shining across the region, making one feel much warmer than the temperature shows. One can pay a visit to the Gyanste Fortress, Palcho Monastery and Pala Manor, the three most famous historical and cultural relics in this city.

Shigatse Tibet Weather in January

Average Minimum Temperature (℃): -13
Average Maximum Temperature (℃): 6
Average Precipitation/Rainfall (mm): 0.36 mm
Rainy Days: 2
Relative Humidity (%): 33
Average Wind Speed (kmph): 7.4

Shigatse in January is not that severely cold than many expected, with the mean temperature reaching 6 degrees during the daytime, and dropping to -13 at night. There are strong solar radiation and long sun hours, with thin air and low atmospheric pressure. Being only six hours’ driving away from Lhasa, it is convenient to visit the second largest city of Tibet, where sits the magnificent Tashilhunpo Monastery.

Tashilhunpo Monastery in JanuaryA family tour to Tashilhunpo Monastery in January.

EBC Tibet Weather in January

Average Minimum Temperature (℃): -15
Average Maximum Temperature (℃): -5
Average Precipitation/Rainfall (mm): 5mm
Rainy Days: 0.2
Average Wind Speed (kmph): 7.4

January is the coldest month for the region of Mount Everest, with an average temperature of -10 degrees. There is a large difference in temperature between day and night, around 15 degrees. In some cases of extreme weather, the temperature may drop to as low as -30 degrees. However, Mount Everest is still a place that can be visited in January, as there is not much snow in the region.

Mount Everest in JanuaryMount Everest is still a place that can be visited in January.

Most days are sunny and bright, though accompanied with strong and dry wind. And if you are lucky enough to get a little snow around the area of Mount Everest, then it only makes the photos of the peak from the base camp even more amazing and beautiful.

>> Check for the most popular EBC tours in Tibet.

Mt. Kailash Tibet Weather in January

Average Minimum Temperature (℃): -21
Average Maximum Temperature (℃): -8
Average Precipitation/Rainfall (mm): 9
Rainy Days: 5.2

In the western areas around Mount Kailash, the weather can be harsh, with biting cold winds that can chafe your skin. When it comes to January, the temperature at night can drop to as low as -27 degrees, and the daytime temperatures barely get much above freezing. Compared to other regions of Tibet, which are always dry with sunny days, the Mount Kailash region has kind of more precipitation at this time.

So, heavy snows are frequent in this region, blocking the mountain road, making it extremely risky to travel to this place. If you want to visit the world’s most sacred mountain and accompanying Lake Manasarovar, you can trek the kora during the warmer time between mid-May to mid-October.

Lhasa to Kathmandu Overland in January

Kathmandu Average Minimum Temperature (℃): 2.4
Kathmandu Average Maximum Temperature (℃): 19.1
Kathmandu Average Precipitation/Rainfall (mm): 14.4
Kathmandu Rainy Days: 2
Kathmandu Relative Humidity (%): 79
Kathmandu Average Wind Speed (kmph): 6.8
Gyirong Port Average Minimum Temperature (℃): -7
Gyirong Port Average Maximum Temperature (℃): -17

Winter in Kathmandu is amazing. The mornings and nights will be cold but not freezing cold, while the days are always cool and crispy. Even in the coldest month of January, the mean temperature will reach up to 19 degrees during the daytime, and maintain a minimum above zero. It is a good choice to visit Kathmandu in January, especially when you want to witness the clear sunny mornings and have an excellent view of the mountain peaks.

Travelling from Lhasa to Kathmandu by overland tourTravelling from Lhasa to Kathmandu by overland, on the other side, is also a popular way to tour.

Tibet and Nepal in winter season. Combing exotic religious cultures of two different regions, one can take in diverse landscapes from snowy land to green valley. The well-paved Friendship Highway and the newly opened Gyirong Port also bring great convenience to the road trip between Tibet to Nepal.

>> Check for the most recommended Lhasa to Kathmandu overland tours.

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 January

There are only a few festivals in Tibet in January, and the most prominent one is the Shigatse New year, known locally as Tsang Losar. Separate to the normal Losar that is held across the Tibetan areas on the first day of the New Year, Tsang Losar is actually held on the first day of the 12th month in the Tibetan calendar. The people of Shigatse, mostly agricultural farmers, created their own calendar more than 100 years ago, to be more in line with the harvesting seasons in the area around Shigatse. While it is similar in form to the traditional Losar, the food is mostly dominated by mutton, with a different style of dishes from the east and north of Tibet.

Celebrating Shigatse New YearLocal women were singing and dancing to celebrate Shigatse New Year in January.

Held in the middle of January, the “Meeting of the Eight Guardians” is a Lhasa festival that occurs around the Potala Palace every year. The festival consists of a parade of monks with trumpets, who larch in a procession around the Potala Palace and Lhasa, with Lamas leading the way. The procession also includes “witch dancers”, who are meant to chase away the evil spirits around the city, with their ritual dances and the sounds of the blasting trumpets. The festival also serves as a spirit cleansing in preparation for the coming New Year.

What to pack for traveling Tibet in January?

January is a cold month in Tibet, and while you may find the weather and temperature pleasant and warm in the daytime, at night it is always going to get cold. For the best experience of Tibet in the winter, you should make sure that you have the right gear for a winter tour, including plenty of warmer clothing, tough strong boots to protect your feet, warm socks, gloves, warm hat and sun hat, sunglasses for the bright sunlight, lip balm, moisturizer, and sun cream.

While you will need warmer clothes in winter than summer, it is always essential to have good sweaters and a good fleece or down jacket in winter. A windbreaker will work well for wandering around Lhasa, and waterproof clothing can be useful. Sturdy sneakers, walking shoes, or hiking boots are also recommended for the rougher ground you may encounter. Remember to pack the things you need as toiletries, since you may not be able to get the ones you need in Tibet in the winter months, and include a belt bag for your documents, as you will need to keep them safe on your person.

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

Conclusion

Tibet in January is not as cold and harsh as many people would think. Though the night temperatures in most areas of the plateau will be below freezing, the days are always milder owing to the strong sunshine. And while it is the coldest month of the year in January, there are always plenty of things to see and do in Tibet.

In Lhasa, one of the warmest places of Tibet in winter, you can have the Jokhang Temple and Potala Palace all to yourself to explore, without the crowds of people that summer brings. And heading east, you can travel to the lower land of Nyingchi Prefecture, and have a better chance to see the full view of Namcha Barwa Mountain. There will also be greater chance to witness the stunning peak of Mount Everest, as the skies are clearer and it hardly rains during this period.

January is one of the low seasons of Tibet tours, when the plateau sees fewer traveler at this time. Many hotels and restaurants will close or offer a huge discount for visitors. Therefore, if you don’t like to travel with big crowds and want to cut down the cost in the meantime, January actually is a good time to go.

Tibet Weather in JanuaryMagical ice and snow world of Tibet in January.

Potala Palace in January Magnificant Potala Palace in January.

Yamdrok Lake in January.jpg Quiet and attractive Yamdrok Lake in January

Namtso Lake in JanuaryThe scenery of Namtso Lake in winter.

Snow-capped Mount Everest in JanuaryMount Everest is covered by snow.

Master Kungga Dundruk

About the Author - Master Kungga Dundruk

The Lhasa-born prodigy used to study business overseas, and got his Bachelor of Business in Nepal and India before moving back to his homeland.With pure passion for life and unlimited love for Tibet, Kunga started his guide career as early as 1997.

Responsible, considerate and humorous, he devoted his entire life guiding and serving international tourists travelling in Tibet.As a legendary Tibetan travel guru with 20-year pro guide experience , he once had an exclusive interview with the US media. Currently he is working in Tibet Vista as the Tour Operating Director. Whenever our clients run into troubles, he is your first call and will offer prompt support.

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