Best time to travel to Tibet

One of the most common questions I am asked is when is the best time to visit Tibet? Well, that is a bit difficult to answer because there are pro’s and con’s to each season. What I will do is take each season and list the pro’s and con’s about them to help you decide when the best time to travel to Tibet, the Land of Snows.


The summer season is the warmest time of year across the Tibetan Plateau. While it is still common for snow to fall on the northern Tibetan Plateau during the summer, especially in areas above 4000m, most places where travelers go to are mild and comfortable. Because of the mild temperatures across Tibet during the summer, this is the most popular time of year for travelers to come. Since the start of the train to Tibet in 2006, tourists numbers have increased nearly every year (exception was in 2008 when widespread riots took place across Tibet) with over 8.4 million people visiting the region in 2011. Because of this, getting train tickets to Lhasa are difficult to get during the summer season. Also, tour and hotel prices are higher in Lhasa during the summer compared to the low season.

While the weather during the summer months is mild for the most part, the summer does bring rain and clouds. The rain is not nearly as much as what the south side of the Himalaya’s get, but it does rain in Tibet during the summer. It won’t rain everyday, but it will rain a few days each week in most regions. Even though it does rain, it is still possible to trek in Tibet during the summer. Also, the cloud cover is often thick so getting clear views of Everest and the Himalaya’s are not as common as they are during the rest of the year.

If you are interested in seeing nomad Tibetan culture, the summer is the best time of year. The grasslands are an amazing color of green and thousands of Tibetans living in their yak wool tents can be found. In my opinion, if you hate cold weather, then the summer is the season for you to visit Tibet. However, if you don’t mind a bit of cold weather, the skies are much clearer the rest of the year and will reward you with amazing views of the mountains.

Nomad grasslands of Ngawa prefecture རྔ་བ་ཁུལ་ (northern Sichuan) in the summer

Khampa nomad girl from Nyarong county in Garze prefecture དཀར་མཛེས་ཁུལ་ཉག་རོང་རྫོང་ (western Sichuan)

Surmang village ཟུར་མང་ in Kham (southern Qinghai) during the summer


The fall season is a great time of year to visit Tibet. The rainy season normally ends in mid to late September. The skies from then through early December are generally clear and the mountains are usually snow-capped. The temperatures are not as mild as the summer, but are still comfortable for most people. There will be freezing temperatures in most areas of Tibet, but with appropriate clothing, you will be fine. The tourists crowds have usually departed from Lhasa by mid-October making the Tibetan quarter much quieter. Also, nomad Tibetans can still be found living in tents across the grasslands. Overall, the fall is probably my favorite time of year for traveling across Tibet.

A small Kham village beneath a snow-capped peak in the fall

Amdo grasslands of Golok prefecture མགོ་ལོག་ཁུལ་ (southeast Qinghai) during the fall

Along the Dzi River in Riwoche county, Chamdo prefecture བ་མདོ་ཁུལ་རི་བོ་ཆེ་རྫོང་ (eastern TAR) in the fall


Some people may think I am crazy for saying this, but winter is a great time of year to visit Tibet. Here is why I think this….the weather is clear almost everyday giving amazing views of the mountains, hotels and travel agencies offer discounts during this time, there are almost no tourists around, the weather is probably not as cold as you think it will be and most importantly, Lhasa is filled with Tibetan pilgrims from all corners of Tibet. During Losar (Tibetan New Year), which takes place in the winter, thousands of Tibetan pilgrims pour into Lhasa on pilgrimage. It is an excellent time for photographers to visit Tibet to capture images of Tibetan nomads from the most remote regions of Tibet.

Over the last 7 or 8 years, Lhasa has an average high temperature of 9.5C (49F) during the winter months and an average low of -4C (24F). While I agree that these are not Southeast Asia or Caribbean-like temperatures, they also are not nearly as bad as most people think (most Chinese tourists are convinced that Lhasa is -40C in the winter). With the intense sun, the temperature during the day feels much warmer than what it actually is. The guesthouses in the Everest region and in western Tibet do get cold at night so bringing good quality winter clothing is important. Now the nomadic regions in northern Tibet in the Amdo and Kham regions do get cold….really cold! These areas can be visited in the winter, but if you don’t like the cold, it is best to visit these when the weather is warmer. Winter temperatures across the Amdo region and across large portions of Kham can easily reach -25C or colder.

Snow covered grasslands of Golok prefecture མགོ་ལོག་ཁུལ་ in Amdo (southeast Qinghai)

Blue skies in Lhasa ལྷ་ས་ during the winter

Perfect views of the Himalaya’s in Nyalam county གཉའ་ལམ་རྫོང་ (southwest TAR) during the winter


Each March, most of the Tibetan Plateau closes to foreign tourists for 5 or 6 weeks. This is an annual closing that takes place each year. The reason is that March is a sensitive month to Tibetans, as it is the anniversary of the Dalai Lama fleeing to India in 1959 as well as many uprisings and protests in the past (most recently in 2008). Travel permits normally stopped being issued in late February or very early March and the region normally reopens in early April. The Amdo and Kham regions, which do not require travel permits or organized tours, usually also close to foreign travelers during this time.

Besides the annual closing of the Tibetan Plateau, the spring season is a good time to visit Tibet. The weather is generally clear until around mid to late May, the temperatures are crisp, but not frigid and there are not too many tourists around Lhasa.

Spring time near Dartsendo དར་རྩེ་མདོ་ in eastern Kham (western Sichuan)

An Amdo nomad tent during the spring in Ganlho prefecture ཀན་ལྷོ་ཁུལ་ (southwest Gansu)

A stupa in Yushu county ཡུལ་ཤུལ་རྫོང་ (southern Qinghai) during the spring time


22 thoughts on “Best time to travel to Tibet

  1. Indira Mullick

    I would like to visit Tibet and go to Everest North base camp. Can you please say which is the best time to go. A temp of 10 C in day and -2 C in night is okay by me. I am used to cold climate and enjoy it. I have no problem in trekking and have done Sandakhphu from Nepal Border, maneybhanjyang (Darjeeling – India) for 5 days. It is 12.500 ft high. 3636 mt.

    I can be put in a group with couple of women and men. Please give the price for full package. Return flight fares to Tibet from India can be excluded in the price.

    1. Losang བློ་བཟང་ Post author

      Indira…I hope you are doing well. In my experience and opinion, the best time of year to get good views of Everest from the north side base camp is from early October through early May. Low temperatures in this area though are going to be far colder than -2C. Expect night time lows to range between -10C and -25C in and around the base camp area. Even summer low temperatures can be much lower than -2C.

      You will need to contact a travel agency in order to get an exact quote on a tour price. The tour price is going to vary drastically on how many people you will be traveling with, how many days you plan to take on your tour and what types of hotels you wish to stay at. For a travel agency recommendation, give me more details on your upcoming trip and email me at


  2. Sandra

    Dear Losang,
    We ( 2 PAX) arrive to Xining probably the 9th or 10th of September and we would like to do the Amnye Machen trek with horses. We have our own camping gear . Can you give us some details for costs and days we need after arriving to Xining wether coming back to Xining or continuing to Chengdu via Sertar and visiting Larung Gar on the way? We have 3 weeks time . That`ll be nice.
    Thanks a lot
    Best regards Sandra

  3. David Ryall

    Hey Losang, I went to Tibet 10 years ago and am looking to go again in July this year to revisit a few old haunts and hopefully find a couple of Tibetans I met that I want to reconnect with. however I am also keen to get to Bhutan. Can you please advise the most direct way of getting there? I am thinking to go to Tibet then Bhutan.

    Also, as it is my second time there, is there any particular recommendation you have of what I should get up to? The first time round I went to Samye, Yamdrok, Gyantse, Shigatse and EBC via Shegar.


    1. Lobsang བློ་བཟང་ Post author

      Hi David….glad to hear you are coming back to Tibet for a second journey! I sent you a couple of emails with some info for you. Other places I recommend visiting include Peiku Tso, Nam Tso, Mt, Kailash, Guge Kingdom, Drikung Monastery, Tedrom Nunnery and Ganden Monastery.

      Since there are no border crossings from Tibet to Bhutan, you will need to go to Kathmandu after your time in Tibet. From there, you can fly to Paro, Bhutan.


  4. Andrew Chan

    Hi Lobsang,
    I am planning to go tibet in December alone joining a private tour, do you have any reputable and reliable travel agency to recommend? Besides, is it too cold to travel to tibet in December, especially if I am planning to visit Mt Everest Base Camp?

    I have been to Bhutan 2 years ago and the highest altitude is about 3200m above sea level. However I understand Tibet’s altitude is much higher generally above 4000m or even 5000m above sea level, would there be any problem to acclimatize to the high altitude.

    Last if I am entering Tibet by train from Xining, would the agency be able to arrange to help me get both the air ticket and train ticket? Or I have to get my own air ticket?

    Thank you and hope to hear from you soon.

    Andrew Chan (Singapore)

    1. Lobsang བློ་བཟང་ Post author

      Hi Andrew….I don’t believe anywhere is too cold to visit as long as you are wearing proper clothing. If I go to Singapore wearing a high altitude climbing suit that is used for climbing Mt Everest, I am going to die from the heat. The same with Tibet…If I wear shorts and flip-flops in the winter, I am going to be very miserable. With proper clothing, Tibet can be visited anytime of year.

      All travel agencies in Tibet can assist you with train tickets. As along as you take time to acclimatize, going to Everest Base Camp is no problem. I suggest taking at least 3 days in Lhasa and then a further 3 or 4 days along the way from Lhasa to EBC to acclimatize.

      I have emailed you info on some reputable travel agencies to contact. Enjoy your journey!

  5. Tanya M. Mitchell

    Hello Lobsang, I am planning a trip to Tibet. I would like to travel in late April/early May 2017 with my daughter. We will be traveling from Kathmandu and would like to arrange a tour with car and driver for 2-3 days as required and would appreciate your recommendations for tour companies and info on obtaining our travel permits. I am really enjoying your site. Thanks for such a very informative and quite interesting site.
    Looking forward to hearing from you, Tanya (USA)State of Louisiana

  6. Andrea Ormond

    Hi Lobsang.
    I am looking to visit Tibet from the Uk and am especially interested in Kyirong. I think in the Autumn. I am also keen to visit Bhutan. Could you please advise me on how to do this. Thanks very much

  7. Gloria

    Hullo Lobsang,
    Thank you for the information on this site.
    I would like to visit Tibet in middle May, and I know it is short notice.
    Am thinking of taking the train from Xining to Lhasa, and would like to do a Kailash tour, are there tour operators that walk the kora in 5 days (instead of 3 days)Which tour operators would you recommend.
    What level of fitness is required?

    1. Lobsang བློ་བཟང་ Post author

      Hello…All those doing the 3 day high altitude trek around Kailash should be in VERY good physical shape. Local Tibetans normally do it in just 1 to 1 1/2 days. Five days is VERY long… should easily be able to do it in 3 days with 4 being the maximum. I have emailed you further info to assist you in getting to Kailash.


  8. Vijay

    Hi Lobsang
    I am planning to visit Kham in July. How Rainy is it then ? and can I expect to see mountain tops and blue skies in between days or is it cloudy all the time ?

  9. Rebecca

    Hi I’m planning to travel with my daughters July 2017, can you please send us some reputable agencies and recommendations? Thank you

  10. Phil L

    Hello Lobsang,

    I was referred to your website by someone in Tripadvisors. I am planning a short trip to Lhasa; flying in from Chengdu on Sept 12, and depart Sept 16. I am an American male, 51 years old in a very good health.

    I thought I have narrowed my trip down to 2 tour agencies, but after reading your advice, I have a second thought. I was deciding between Budget Tibet and Tibet Vista. They are both at $575 each including all entrance fees to all sites visiting, but NOT including accommodation. I am arranging my own hotel accommodation (my preference). I can increase my budget up to $750 for a tour not including accommodation.

    Can you please recommend one or two tour agencies? So it would just be a 5-day tours including one day to Yamzho lake.

    I have to finalize everything by this week. Thanks very much and look forward to hear back from you.


  11. lee

    Hi Lobsang,

    Thanks for providing us a very informative site. I am planning to visit Tibet with a friend next year, still undecided to go in May or end of sept. As i have visited Lhasa, EBC, namtso lake, yamdruk lake, shigatse during my last tour, I would like to focus on Ngari and other places in Western Tibet only for about 12 days. Do you have any recommendation?
    Thank you!

  12. Cna

    Hi Lobsang, thank you for all the information. Can you also send me more information for travel agencies? I reached out to 2 already but would like to get your input.


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