Travel to Tibet in July is pleasant because of the summery warmth, averaging at 22 ℃ to 27℃ in the daytime and 6℃ to 9℃ at night. Compared with the other major cities of inland China at the same latitude, such as Chengdu, Chongqing, or Shanghai, the temperature in Lhasa, can be 10 ℃ lower in July. Therefore, for many domestic travelers, to visit Tibet in July is a wise choice to escape from summer heat.
July and August see the most rainfall in a year in Tibet. There are around 15 rainy days in July. Thus, it is considered not the most ideal time to do sightseeing at Mount Everest, or Mount Namcha Barwa because of the relatively higher rate of avalanche along the route and the lower visuality of the peaks with clouds and mist. But the brighter side is that rains in Tibet often occur at night, so during the daytime, you can still likely have clear days.
Norbulingka Summer Palace in Lhasa
It is noteworthy that July is good time to travel Mount Kailash, because of the milder weather due to greater precipitation and warmer temperature. Located in the western part of Ngari, the westmost prefecture of Tibet, Mount Kailash is not affected by the Indian Ocean climate. So even in the depth of summer, it is not under the impact of monsoon. It is still quite dry compared with the other regions in Tibet.
Moreover, the oxygen content in the air is higher than that in winter, so it’s believed that travel to Tibet in July leads to lower risk of suffering altitude sickness. And if you’re traveling for culture and relaxation instead of visiting the majestic mountains, basically culture-abundant cities such as Lhasa, Shigatse, Tsedang, Gyantse, are okay to visit all year round. Exposed in the warmer outdoors of July, you can travel light with less clothing, and enjoy studying the architect, murals, Buddhist scriptures without being bullied by the harsh weather of heavy wind or frigid temperature.
July--The first month of Tibet’s Peak Travel Season
July is the beginning month of China’s summer holiday of public schools, which leads to swarming tourists into Tibet comprised of families or solo student travelers. The entrance tickets, the hotel room expenses, and the transportation costs all come with rising price and extra service fees. Travel to Tibet in July certainly costs you more than traveling in shoulder season or off-season.
Travel Tips based on peak time: we suggest that you book an organized tour with tour operators at least two months in advance, to allow sufficient time to process the application of obligatory travel permits such as Tibet Tourism Bureau Permit (also known as Tibet Travel Permit), border pass, military pass, etc.
Qinghai-Tibet Railway in July
Qinghai-Tibet Railway crosses through Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, from Xining, the capital city of Qinghai Province, to Lhasa, the capital city of Tibet, attracting train fanatics all over the world. To choose this railway route in July not only allows you to see the flowering meadows along the route, the glimmering water of dispersed highland lakes, the mighty snow-capped mountains, but also help you acclimatize the altitude before you enter Tibet, by starting from the location with the elevation of 2,275m to the location of 3,656m above the sea level.
With the coverage of 4,435 square kilometers, Qinghai Lake is the largest inland lake and the largest saline lake of China. The shining blue water in the clear bright days makes it look like a broad sapphire. In July, the surrounding landscape of Qinghai Lake is covered with golden yellow rape flowers, luxuriant green grassland, and colorful flowering meadows. Either the road route leading from Xining to Qinghai Lake, or the circuit route around the Qinghai Lake, are with stunning views, and rich in nomad culture of real Tibetan herdsmen’s life.
Furthermore, Cycling Competition has been annually held in July at Qinghai Lake since 2002, which is a competition certified as UCI/2. HE. This 300-kilometer cycling route is also very pleasant for amateur cyclers to finish in an easy 4 or 5 days at relaxing pace, during which there are stops and supply points for cyclers to have accommodation and board.
If your schedule is tight, two day will be enough to have a quick yet thrilling glimpse at the lake. Setting off in the early morning from Xining, you’ll arrive at one lakefront town Heihe at noon. You’ll see the lake bright as a gem at noon, and see it turn into an iridescent dynamic painting in the dusk when the sky is full of afterglow clouds, and the reflection on the surface of water join the sky at the end of horizon, waving goodbye with the riffles to the setting sun and the admirers at the lakeshore. And then the next morning, when it is still chilly, the calling from the lake summons you to get up with warm coats. To come close to the lake again and wait for the sunrise with your friends or other travelers you may meet once in a lifetime, some part deep at the bottom of your heart might be moved and touched with a soft warmth and tenderness brought forth by the beautiful lake. The quickly happened come and go, is certainly not enough for getting intimate with the land, but can leave a memory lingering around inside you, which may bring you back some day later.
And then you hop on the train and take a leisure time admiring the scenery outside the window, reading a book or chatting with newly-acquainted friends in your cabin, or thinking of the past images of Qinghai Lake, or the people far away that you’re missing. The 21 hours train trip may pass too quickly to notice.
Note about the Train Trip
To attend the authentic festivals of Tibetan people is the most direct and intense way to get immersed in their spiritual world and to get known with their real life and culture.
Tashilhunpo Thangka Festival
The Tibetan religious Thangka Festival is also called Sunbathing Buddha Festival. It is held on May 14th, May 15th and May 16th according to Tibetan calendar. In 2019, Tashilhunpo Thangka Festival will fall on July 15th, July 16th and July 17th.
On the corresponding three days, three Buddhas embroidered in Tibet thangka will be exhibited. On Day 1, the Buddha of The Past, also named Amitabha, Buddha of Boundless Light, is unfolded, for people to memorize the past days. On Day 2, the Buddha of the Current, Shakyamuni, will be presented to which people can pray for a happy life. On Day 3, the Buddha of the Future, Maitreya, will be displayed, spreading hopes to people to look forward for the future. The unfolding ceremony starts from 10:00am to 12:00pm at noon during the three days. After the festival, the giant thangka of Buddhas will be put away and stored carefully for the same event of the following year.
Tashilhunpo Thangka Festival
Apart from Tashilhunpo Monastery, other monasteries also have this tradition to hold the unfolding ritual of Buddhas though at different times. Drepung Monastery takes on the ritual of unfolding thangkas of Buddhas during Shoton Festival in June of Tibetan calendar, which often appears in August according to solar calendar and can even be in larger scale compared with that in Tashilhunpo Monastery. Tens of thousands of pilgrims and lay people attend in the festival.
The platform for unfolding Buddhas in Tashilhunpo Monastery is indispensably unique and has become the icon of the monastery itself and Shigatse City. The platform was built in 1468 by the first Dalai Lama Gendun Drub, which was constructed by piling rocks. The basement of the platform was deeply rooted into the rocks of Nyima Mountain, and the giant platform surface sits in the halfway of the mountain, which can be even spotted dozens of kilometers away. Been through nearly five hundred years, the platform is still strong and sturdy.
When the Buddha thangka is unfolded, the enormous image presented spreads over one square kilometer large, putting the followers in awe and kneel with reverence and worship at the foot of the Buddha. It is so imposing and awe-taking that even lay people are greatly moved. It you are interested in getting the condensed religious atmosphere of Tibetan Buddhism and Tibet culture, to attend the festival can fulfill your dream.
The three sacred lakes Namtso, Yamdrok, and Manasarovar are ideal for visiting in July. Lake Namtso and Lake Manasarovar are located in the two coldest prefectures of Tibet, Nagqu and Ngari. The weather at the two lakes is harsh and cold most time of the year. Now July brings the highest temperature of a year to the two lakes and the ending of the long wind season (November to May) ensures the stillness and mildness of the weather. Touring the sacred lakes in July is pleasant.
The holy mountain Kailash is located in one of the driest and coldest regions. Even in July, the month with the second largest precipitation of roughly 100mm, it rains mostly at night. While the average temperature of July is 8℃, which is one of the few warmest months, travel to Mount Kailash in July is more suitable based on coldness tolerance.