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Tibet Climate: Master 5 Features of Tibet Weather Before Visiting

May,30 2024 BY Lhakpa 0 COMMENTS

At an average elevation above 4,000m, the Tibetan Plateau has a distinct temperature and climate. Understanding the Tibet temperature and its unique weather pattern can help you pack the right clothes and make wise decisions for your outdoor activities in different Tibet travel seasons.

Here are the top five things you should know about Tibet temperature and climate to better prepare for your Tibet journey.

Unique Tibet Temperature & Climate: Low Temperature, Thin Air, Strong UV Light, Big Day-night Temp Shift, etc.

Tibet earned its name as the 'Roof of the World' because of its high elevation. Across the Tibetan plateau, the average elevation is 4,380m.

Powerful UV light and thin air are two of the most noticeable Tibet weather when you first arrive in Tibet. UV levels are very high throughout the year, and sun protection is critical. For most people, the lower oxygen levels are not a serious problem, but travelers to Tibet from low-elevation regions by flight need more time to get acclimatized so as to avoid altitude sickness in Tibet .

Additionally, the dry and crisp air is how you feel in Tibet. Winters are long and cold, and summer is brief. The low air pressure results in the air not retaining heat.

Combined with the intense sun, there can be significant temperature differences between day and night as the air heats and cools quickly. Temperatures can swing by up to 20°c over the course of one day, from comfortably warm to almost freezing.

The vast mountain ranges like the Himalayas block the monsoon winds of the Indian Ocean, creating a rain shadow across the plateau. Tibet has a brief monsoon season in July and August but sees only 8-12 days of rain during that time. Driven by the monsoon, the rain mainly falls in the evenings or at night.

intense uv light in tibetIntense sunlight and highland landscape in Tibet.

Lhasa, Shigatse, and Nyingchi Have the Most Favorable Tibet Temperatures and Climates for Travel

Lhasa, Shigatse, and Nyingchi are great places to visit all year in Tibet. At lower elevations comparatively, they have a milder climate and don't experience the extreme cold seen at the highest altitudes.

Lhasa and Shigatse, two of the biggest cities in Tibet, have similar climates, with Shigatse being a little cooler and drier. Spring and autumn have the most comfortable daytime temperatures. Summer is warm with some rain, and winter is cold and dry but with brilliant, clear, sunny days.

Travelers enjoy sunny day at Potala Palace in LhasaTravelers enjoy sunny day at Potala Palace in Lhasa.

Nyingchi, with lush forests and much lower elevation than most parts of Tibet, resembles the weather and terrains in the Swiss Alps. It’s also the warmest and wettest of the three. Winter here is the only time temperatures drop a little below 0°c, and summers are warm with higher rainfall.

Nyingchi Draksum-Tso LakeNyingchi Draksum-Tso Lake and dense forest.

Average Temperature

CityWinter (Dec-Feb)Spring (Mar-May)Summer (June-Aug)Autumn (Sept-Nov)
Lhasa -9°c to 10°c 0°c to 18°c 9°c to 24°c 2°c to 18°c
Shigatse -7°c to 9°c -2°c to 16°c 7°c to 22°c 0°c to 17°c
Nyingchi -2°c to 13°c 3°c to 18°c 10°c to 23°c 5°c to 19°c

April, May, September, and October have crystal clear skies and superb visibility for all outdoor activities in Lhasa, Shigatse, and Nyingchi. While the traditional monsoon season in June, July, and August offers you a great time to experience Tibetan festivals, such as the Shoton Festival with richer oxygen and a cool plateau breeze.

Top Attractions Recommended:

Lhasa: Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Barkhor Street, Drepung Monastery, Sera Monastery.
Shigatse: Everest Base Camp, Rongbuk Monastery, Tashilhunpo Monastery, Sakya Monastery.
Nyingchi: Basum Tso Lake, Mainling National Forest Park, Lulang Forest, Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon.

Ngari and Nagqu Have Much Colder Temperatures and Harsher Climate in Tibet

Ngari and Nagqu are more remote regions of Tibet and experience some extreme weather conditions. Ngari is the far western region known as 'The Roof of the Roof of the World' due to its average elevation of over 4,500m. Home of the sacred Mount Kailash, Ngari is a land of vast plateaus and high deserts.

Mountain Kailash and tough environment in NgariMountain Kailash and tough environment in Ngari Prefecture in western Tibet.

Nagqu is part of the Changtang Plateau, a wide, desolate area of grasslands and cold deserts. The topography is broken up by glaciers, high peaks, and lakes like the famous Lake Namtso.

Nagqu landscapeBeautiful Nagqu landscape in summer.

Both areas have climates that can be harsh at times. Winter temperatures never rise above 0°c, and strong winds make it feel even colder. Conditions start to warm in spring, but freezing conditions and strong winds continue. Summer is mild but cooler than in lower altitude regions. It starts to get cold again in autumn with a return to dry weather.

Average Temperature

CityWinter (Dec-Feb)Spring (Mar-May)Summer (June-Aug)Autumn (Sept-Nov)
Ngari -20°c to -5°c -10°c to 10°c 0°c to 15°c -10°c to 10°c
Nagqu -25°c to -10°c -15°c to 5°c 0°c to 15°c -10°c to 5°c

May, June, September, and October are the best months to visit Ngari Prefecture, especially to enjoy the epic 3-day mountain Kailash trek. Whereas, if you want to experience the stunning sapphire lake view of sacred Namtso Lake, and the renowned Tibetan horse racing festival, and Tibetan nomads’ life, May, June, July, August, September, and mid-Oct are your best bet.

Top Attractions Recommended:

Ngari: Mount Kailash, Lake Manasarovar, Guge Kingdom Ruins, Toiling Monastery.
Nagqu: Lake Namtso, Qiangtang Nature Reserve, Tanggula Mountains.

BTW, don’t miss out on the Saga Dawa Festival (May), the festival celebrating the birth, enlightenment, and death of Buddha bringing thousands of pilgrims to Mount Kailash.

Saga Dawa Festival in Mount KailashSaga Dawa Festival in Mount Kailash.

How to Pack Wisely for Distinctive Tibet Temperature and Climate for Travel

The most important part of packing for a Tibet trip is ensuring you're protected from the extreme plateau weather. The sun, cold, wind, and rough ground can present challenges in every season.

Clothing:

Be ready for temperature changes with clothing worn in layers that can be easily added or removed. In addition to a warm sweater and pants, bring a thermal base layer and windbreaker.

A down jacket, hat, gloves, and scarf are needed in colder seasons and when traveling to higher altitude locations like Mount Everest. Comfortable and strong shoes or boots with good tracking are essential. Boots or high shoes are best for trekking to keep pebbles and dirt out.

What travelers wear when traveling in TibetWhat travelers wear when traveling in Tibet.

Sun and Wind Protection:

The sun in Tibet is very strong, with high UV levels year-round. Bring SPF 50+ sunscreen, sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed hat for the outdoors. The wind and arid weather can cause skin irrigation. Lip balm and moisturizer will help keep you comfortable.

Personal Care:

Bring adequate personal toiletries for the trip. In bigger cities like Lhasa and Shigatse, many hotels have full amenities, but in remote areas, you may have to rely on your own supplies. A basic first aid kit with personal medicines, pain relievers, bandages, blister cream, and altitude sickness medication (Diamox) is also recommended. Of course, do consult your doctor for the medication.

Top-rated Travel Seasons & Itineraries for the Most Comfortable Tibet Temperature and Best Views in Tibet

As a top local Tibet travel agency, we recommend April to October as the most comfortable months for first-timers to Tibet since the late spring and early autumn have pleasant daytime weather and clear skies. There's no better time for trekking, cycling, or just exploring the streets of Lhasa.

On our 8-day Lhasa to EBC tour or 7-Day Lhasa to Kathmandu overland tour, you'll get perfect visibility for seeing the tallest mountains in the Himalayas in spring and autumn without having to face the extreme cold of winter. The view of Yamdrok Lake from Gampala Pass (4,790m), or the five highest peaks of the Himalayas at Gawula (5,198m), will be unforgettable. At EBC, the cold won't distract you from the sight of the Milky Way glowing as a backdrop for Mount Everest.

May, September, and October are also the best times to take the 15-day Lhasa to Mount Kailash Tour. Visiting remote Ngari is an amazing adventure, as is trekking around the sacred mountain. The pilgrimage route around Mount Kailash is one of rugged and natural beauty, and it is part of the ancient traditions of several religions. The warm and dry daytime temperatures keep the trekking route comfortable and easy to travel on.

Conclusion

Tibet's unique weather and climate shouldn't discourage you from visiting, but it does take some planning. Try visiting in spring or autumn for the most comfortable weather. Winter's special attraction is the clear skies and snow-covered landscapes, while summer is the warmest time. We have tours available year-round designed to take advantage of the distinct conditions in each season. Let us know when you want to travel, and we'll help put together the best tour for your needs.

Lhakpa

About the Author - Lhakpa

Of all the versatile Tibetan guides in our team, Mr. Lhakpa is a gem. His 15+ years of guide experience make him an expert in managing self-drive tours, EBC trekking tours, cycling tours, etc. In addition, this big and friendly guy is also good at singing, dancing, and cooking local Tibetan cuisines as well.

In Lhakpa’s tour group, travelers never feel bored. His vibrant energy is infectious, infusing every moment with a sense of excitement and enthusiasm. Lhakpa's wealth of knowledge about Tibet's rich history offers you new insights into Tibetan culture and local life.

You won’t forget Lhkpa’s perpetual smile that radiates kindness and warmth and his deep care for every traveler during your stay in Tibet. Hopefully, Lhakpa’s travel articles make your Tibet travel planning easier.

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