Travel to Tibet in May

The atypical spring of Tibet is thought to start in May. It is the transition period between arid wind season (November to May) and the rainy season (June to September). More than 20 days in a month are clear and warm and hence May is one of the few best months to tour Mount Everest. May is also the time when Alpine azaleas come into full bloom in the forests and valleys of Nyingchi and Shannan.

Mountaineering and Sightseeing at Mount Everest

Every October to March Mount Everest confronts wind-swept harshness and coldness. April and May see the suitable start of tourist activity in Mount Everest. Below the troposphere, wind strength increases according to the rising of altitude. The wind speed in Mount Everest can be stronger than Force 12 typhoon. June to September is the period of rainy season in Mount Everest area, during when the humid and warm current blew from Indian Ocean coming upwards the mountains and congealed into clouds and rains. But April and May, are the short intervals between wind season and rainy season, which is also called pre-monsoon season, when either wind or snow rarely happens. Therefore, this is one of the best times to do climbing. However, even so, there are only 2 to 3 consistent good days suitable for climbing. For normal tourists, this is also the best time to do sightseeing. Higher chance of clear panoramic view of the peak is available.

Sunrise at Everest Base Camp

Weather in E.B.C in May: With an average high of 15℃, and an average low of freezing point, it is warm and clear in the daytime.

Extra Packing: for the chilly morning and night, down coat, windproof coat, scarf, beanie, protective facial masks are vital; power bank and extra camera batteries.

How to get to Mount Everest:there are no regular buses to Mount Everest. You can charter a bus or minibus in Lhasa or get arranged by a local travel agency.

Cost: entrance ticket is 180RMB. Mountain pass for each vehicle is 400 RMB.

Sunrise and Sunset: on May 1st, the estimated sunrise is at 07:33 and the estimated sunset is at 20:46; on May 31st, the estimated sunrise is at 07:16 and the estimated sunset is 21:03.

Alpine Azalea in Mount Shergyla, and Lebu Valley in east Tibet

Azalea, primrose and gentian, are the top three world alpine flower species. From the lower river gorge areas at the elevation of 1,800m to the frigid snow area, are spotted varies of azaleas. To adapt to different environments, they come into shapes of big trees, tall shrubs, or shorter creeping shrubs.

The alpine azalea of Tibet is mainly distributed in the humid and mild forests in south and southeast Tibet, especially in Nyingchi Prefecture and Shannan Prefectures, though their reputation among tourists is quite humble compared with other worldly famous attractions in Tibet. Azaleas start to bloom in April in lower altitude area, and then when it is getting in depth of spring and early summer, the sequential blooming blooms occur in the higher parts of mountains. Here we introduce Mount Shergyla and Lebu Valley, the two areas with condensed azaleas and enormous varieties of azalea species.

Alpine Azalea Blossom in Tibet
Alpine Azalea Blossom in Tibet

Lebu Valley, Shannan Prefecture

This alpine azalea homeland is located in Cuona County, Shannan Prefecture, the southern part of Tibet. It is one of the main residential regions of the ethnic minority Menba, and the hometown of the Sixth Dalai Lama Tsangyang Gyatso, who is also a famous Tibetan poet. Because of the special Sub-tropical climate, the humidity and moisture help shape this unique nature landscape, in comparison with the typical arid Tibetan Plateau climate. The crimson, milk-white and pink azaleas come marching out in the approachable mountain areas or the deep remote forests.

To promote the azalea tourism, Shannan Prefecture has been annually holding festival to attract visitors that adore nature and plants. On May 20th, 2019, the upcoming Azalea Festival in Lebu Valley, will be held, inclusive of series of festivities such as inviting 10 pairs of couples to attend the flower trip free of charge.

Best time: May and June

Mount Shergyla, Nyingchi Prefecture

Mount Shergyla is located in east Nyingchi Prefecture, the southeastern forest region of Tibet. It is part of Nyenchen Tanglha Mountain Range, and the watershed of Nyang River and Purlung Tsangpo River. The famous Sichuan-Tibet Highway crosses through Mount Shergyla, brings the convenience to approach the azaleas in this area. The alpine azalea is the most precious gem of Mount Shergyla.

Best time to see azalea: from Mid-April to the late June, azaleas from the foothill to the mountain tops bloom in a sequential order. By the time of June, nearly all azaleas throughout the entire mountain will have bloomed. They come forth in all colors, multiple postures, and turn Shergyla into a mountain of flowers.

A Special Species of Azalea: Rhododendron phaeochrysum Balf. f. et W. W. Smith; is one of the most typical alpine azaleas in east Himalaya Mountain Range and south Hengduan Mountain Range. This species of azalea has a common name which depicts the appearance very vividly. It’s called Oakleaf Azalea. Distributed below the timberline, they are growing as consociation shrubs, with pink or white corollas dotted by scarlet spots in the inner parts. They can be as tall as 4.5 meter. Their leathery leaves are deep green colored on the upper side, and covered with thick yellowish-brown or golden brown penniform hair. Their racemose inflorescence is growing acrogenous. Each inflorescence has 8 to 15 flowers.

Every interval between spring and summer, the weather in Mount Shergyla starts getting clear when the mountain passes occasionally have the last snow of the year. The slopes, roads are white in snows, while the rising belts of flowers in pink, crimson or yellow, crossing and winding in the deep green forests, comprising an elegant painting.  

Other Suitable Attractions in May

Mount Kailash: May to August is believed as the best time to tour Mount Kailash because of the stable climate characteristics with only light snow. It has been acknowledged as the holiest mountain by Tibetan Buddhists, Hindus, followers of ancient Bon religion and Jainism.  

Lake Namtso: You will see the icy surface melted completely in May. May is also the end of wind season and the interval before the rainy season, with the warmer temperature of spring, this is the most pleasant time to visit Lake Namtso.

Recommended Tibet tours in May:

4 Days Holy City Lhasa Tour

5 Days Lhasa & Yamdrok Lake Tour

6 Days Lhasa Gyantse Shigatse Tour

8 Days Lhasa & Everest Base Camp Tour

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Travel to Tibet in February February is the month which Tibetan New Year falls into. Meanwhile, travel to Tibet in February is more affordable due to low season costs.
Travel to Tibet in March Travel to Tibet in March sees the beginning of spring, and the annual Nyingchi Peach Blossom Festival is the highlight of this month.
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