Both Nepal and Tibet are popular tourist destinations that are rich in culture, religion and beautiful nature landscape. As neighbors to each other, they share the natural border of the Himalayas, where Mount Everest, the highest peak of the world, is located and crosses over both Nepal and Tibet.
High season: October and November
Low season: June, July, August, September
Shoulder season: March and April
Under the influence of the Indian Ocean, Nepal climate features a distinct monsoon season and dry season.
Rainy Season: From Mid-June to August is when Nepal gets influenced by the Indian Ocean current and encounters the most rainfall of the year, which is also monsoon season. This is when Kathmandu, the capital city, has an average rainfall of 332 millimeters. The following September sees just slightly declining yet still ample rainfall of around 200 millimeters. When October comes, the rainfall decreases to around 60 millimeters.
Dry Season: From October to April, the rainfall in Nepal remains below 100 millimeters each month. Pokhara is the city with highest amount of rains all year round in Nepal.
Best Travel Time for Good Weather: It is widely disseminated that October, November, and December are the best times to travel to Nepal because the temperature there is warm and mild, at an average of 20℃, and the dry condition guarantees mostly clear days. Everest on the Nepal side is in the peak travel season at this time. Since the tourism of Everest in Nepal has been much more mature due to its long-time development, these months are actually expecting crowds from all over the world. If you travel to Nepal not only for Everest, you have a wider range of options to choose from during other times, even in monsoon season. Yet, rain might deter the majority of people, but some in the minority might love it. One thing noteworthy is that most rainfall during the monsoon season occurs at night.
Dubar Square in Kathmandu
Mount Everest in Nepal Side: April and May are the best time to do sightseeing, mountaineering, and trekking in the Nepal Mount Everest region based on weather. In contrast to touring Mount Everest on the Tibet side, the travel expense in Nepal is generally less costly, while the Tibet side of Mount Everest is believed to have a better panoramic view with no obstacles getting in the way of your sight. However, the trekking routes and supportive services in Nepal site are relatively more mature than those on the in Tibet side.
Pokhara: It is reputed as the most beautiful place in Nepal with amazing natural beauty, where the rising and falling of snowy mountains, bright and clean lakes, and dazzling markets of miscellaneous artifacts stores and stalls make this city vivid. It’s also an exciting outdoor wonderland providing adventure projects such as parachute gliding and relaxation recreation like cycling around lakes.
Note: October to April of the following year is the best season for paragliding when it is the dry season in Pokhara.
Paragliding in Pokhara
Lumbini: As the birthplace of Shakyamuni, Lumbini has a high status of religious importance among the Buddhists in Nepal. However, Hinduism is the dominant religion in Nepal, Buddhism comes the second largest religion in this country, and Islam is the third-largest.
Between July and November is the best time to visit Lumbini. This is when the monsoon season almost passes away, and the dry season starts. It is sunny, highly visible and very suitable for photography, sightseeing, and hiking. A two or three-day trip is very typical to tour Lumbini’s fantastic religious architects, including stupas, monasteries, gardens, and temples, of which the history can date back to 2,500 years ago.
High Season: July, August, September, October; This is the warmest period of the year and has the longest school holiday and the longest public holiday for the working class.
Shoulder Season: April, May, June; When the tourism starts to warm up, and the southeastern Tibet welcomes the spring vacation tourists. Nyingchi Peach Blossom Festival (in late March) and Lebugou Valley Azalea Festival (in May) are also held, attracting flora lovers and photography fanatics.
Low Season: November, December, January, February, March; These five months are also Tibet’s winter, during which the temperature drops below zero and the harsh, frigid wind sweeps the highland.
The Tibet Autonomous Region in China features the continental climate, with the southeast prefecture Nyingchi as the exception, which is influenced by the warm Indian Ocean current. Thus, the southeast Tibet is warm and mild, while the majority of Tibet is cold and dry. From the southeast to the northwest, the decrease of the temperature and the humidity is evident.
Rainy Season: June to September is the rainy season of Tibet, among which August sees the most rainfall. Thus, this period is not advisable to visit Everest in the Tibet side because it is quite possible to have clouds and fog lingering around the peak, obstructing the panoramic view.
Wind Season: From November to May, Tibet is a windswept land, during which February and March have the harshest winds. The holy mountain Kailash is not suitable to be visited during these months (winter and early spring) because the frigidity can be hardened by the wind.
Temperature: Although the average temperature of Tibet is around 10℃ lower than the towns and cities that are at the same altitude in the rest of China, Tibet is not that cold. Because the highland sunlight shields ample rays into the landscape during the daytime, this makes it feel warm. However, it is still essential to pack warm clothing even in the summer months because of the huge temperature difference between day and night.
Lhasa, the Holy City: Lhasa is suitable to be visited all year round, even in the winter. Located in the flat valley of Lhasa River, with an altitude of 3,650 meters, Lhasa is relatively friendly for newcomers to acclimatize to the high altitude. Undoubtedly, it is the spiritual center of Tibet, and all Tibetans dispersed in other regions of China and overseas. Even in the cold winter, the daytime sunlight generously warms up the visitors and the residents on the land. To have a sunbath in a square of Lhasa has been a lovely tradition for many tourists. It can be a relaxing break in the Potala Palace or Johkang Temple, and to observe the pilgrims doing their prostration, invocation, and praying can be the inspiration of your meditation and retrospection.
Potala Palace in Lhasa
Shigatse, the Home of Panchen Lama: Same as Lhasa, the second-largest city, Shigatse is another abundant culture town with a long history. The Tashilhunpo Monastery has been the residence of Panchen Lama for many generations.
Namtso Lake: Except for the harsh winter when roadblocks are very likely to happen due to the heavy snow, the rest of the year is suitable for visiting Namtso Lake. It starts to unfreeze in late April and melts completely by the end of May. Thus, the best time to visit Namtso Lake is believed to be between June and September.
Yamdrok Lake: Unlike Namtso Lake, Yamdrok Lake never gets completely frozen all year round. Only in December does it get partially icy. And because of the convenient location, which is 2-hour drive south of Lhasa, Yamdrok is usually a scenic attraction organized within the 6-Day Golden Route tour package, beginning from the holy city Lhasa, stopping by Yamdrok, and then extending to Gyantse and Shigatse to get immersed in the religion and culture.
Mount Everest: If you hope to have a clear panoramic view of the summit, try to avoid the rainy season when the rain, fog, and mist may probably shield the summit in July and August, and possibly in September as well. The other negative factor is the winds lasting from November until the following May, with the strongest ones being in February and March. Thus, late April, May, October, and November are the four most suitable months to do sightseeing at Mount Everest.
Tibet Everest Base Camp
Mount Kailash: As located in one of the coldest regions of Tibet, the period between December to March is usually not advisable for tourists to visit Mount Kailash either for sightseeing or trekking. May, June, September, and October are the peak months for trekking Mount Kailash, which is when the days are clear and have the least rain or wind. When you travel to Mount Kailash, you need more time to arrange for the necessary travel permits required for foreign tourists. You must book an organized Mount Kailash tour at least two months ahead of schedule if you want to guarantee its availability.
As the Tibet Autonomous Region is a part of China, you’ll need a valid Group Chinese visa to enter Tibet. If you’re traveling from Nepal, you must get the visa from the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu. Except for those with special occupations such as diplomat and government officers, you need to travel to Tibet under the arrangement of the China Foreign Affairs Office; normal foreign tourists should get a Group Chinese Visa. If the visa applicant has travel partners, all their details must be presented on the same Group Chinese Visa. There won’t be separate visa paperwork for each visa holder, which this means they need to enter Tibet and exit Tibet as a group at the same time. Below you’ll find the instructions to get the required documents:
By Air: There is one daily direct flight from Kathmandu to Lhasa and many other flight options which depart from Kathmandu but stopover at other cities before arriving at Lhasa.
By Road: The overland tour from Kathmandu to Lhasa, or vice versa, which crosses the Gyirong border in southwest Tibet is very popular. This overland tour travels along the famous China-Nepal Friendship Highway. Typically, this overland tour would be organized as a 7-Day Kathmandu to Lhasa (or Lhasa to Kathmandu) Overland Tour via E.B.C (in Tibet side), including the most highlighted attractions of Tibet like Mount Everest, Gyantse Kumbum, Tashilhunpo Monastery, Yamdrok Lake and the cardinal landmarks: the Potala Palace and Jokhang Temple in the holy city Lhasa.
By Train: The train from Kathmandu to Lhasa is currently not available. But the China-Nepal Railway project has been in place, and the construction is predicted to be finished by 2022. It will consist of two parts: from Shigatse to Gyirong (the border town); and Gyirong to Kathmandu.
As concluded from the information above, the best time of travel to Tibet and travel to Nepal have overlapping months, which are April, May, October, and November. You can choose to do trekking in Nepal first and then travel overland or by plane to Tibet and extend your tour to inland China cities; or you can travel from Lhasa to Kathmandu by overland, because the altitudes descend along this route, and you’ll be less likely to have a problem with altitude sickness. Plus, the scenery along the road is amazingly beautiful, especially the section when you get closer to Gyirong.