Since Tibet has a large geographical size, there are different cities and prefectures in Tibet which have distinctively different climate features. Most areas of Tibet are under the influence of the continental climate; however, the Nyingchi Prefecture, which is located in the southeastern region of Tibet, is affected by the Indian Ocean current, and thus features the monsoon climate. So, Nyingchi is the warmest and moistest area in Tibet; and from southeastern Tibet to northwestern Tibet, there is an obvious change in the landscapes and a distinct trend of decreasing rainfall and reduced temperatures that can be observed and measured. The three neighboring cities, which are Lhasa (the capital city), Shigatse (the second largest city), and Shannan (the cradle of ancient Tibet civilization), share very similar climate features. The Ngari Prefecture (in the west) and Nagqu City (in the north) are the coldest regions of Tibet.
January is the coldest month for most of the landmass in the Northern Hemisphere. It is also one of the few coldest months in Tibet, with the average lowest temperature being well below freezing. Since Tibet is mainly affected by continental climate, January is also very dry because it hardly has any rainfall. At night, the temperature in most areas is below zero; and during the daytime, the average high hovers around 6°C.
Potala Palace in Winter
The feeling of the temperature depends on whether the day is windy or clear. January is in the windy season, so the wind chill may make the weather feel even colder. However, if the day is free and clear of wind, the dryness could make the day quite bearable in comparison with other similarly cold locations.
In conclusion, it’s generally not advisable to do any outdoor activities in January while you’re in Tibet. However, it is still recommended for you to take a historic tour or cultural trip during this time because any severe weather should have less of an impact on it.
When traveling to Tibet in January, you may need to consider the weather of the seven cities/prefectures under the jurisdiction of the Tibet Autonomous Region.
|Ave. High||6.8°C||5.7°C||7.9°C||Very similar with the data of Shigatse||Too frigid to be advisable to visit in January||Too frigid to be advisable to visit in January||Not open for foreign tourists|
|Ave. Wind Speed||6 km/h||5 km/h||6 km/h|
|Precipitation||0 mm||0 mm||0 mm|
|Time of Rise(Jan.1st)||8:50am||8:51am||8:36am|
|Time of Set(Jan.1st)||7:07pm||7:09pm||6:54am|
|Length of Day(Jan.1st)||10h16m||10h18m||10h17m|
Note: The above information is collected from historical data and differing weather pattern may occur.
January is not the best time for touring Namtso Lake, Mount Everest and Mount Kailash. It is much colder in these areas than in the major cities and towns of Tibet, and the roads leading to these popular destinations will often get blocked because of severe weather conditions, such as heavy snow and low invisibility. Generally, traveling throughout Tibet in January is ideal for those who desire quiet winter hideaways during the low season and for those who enjoy a historic tour or culture tour without waiting in long lines.
Note on Budget Saving: In January, the entrance tickets of all Tibetan scenic spots ranked with 3A or above, except for monasteries and temples, will only be charged half the price of the original to promote winter tourism. Therefore, the tour package price in January is normally lower than in summer or autumn months.
Lhasa is suitable for visiting all year round, thanks to the most sophisticated and mature tourism facilities. You can enjoy a winter vacation in a cozy hotel at a much lower price than you’d find during the peak season. As January is the off season for farmers and nomads, Lhasa, which is the spiritual center of the Tibetan people, will have the most pilgrims traveling from Tibetan-populated areas. Some of these areas include the Tibet Autonomous Region, Qinghai Province, Sichuan Province, and Yunnan Province. While wandering around the streets of Lhasa, especially on Barkhor Street or around Jokhang Temple, you’ll get a chance to see the most devoted and pious pilgrims as they prostrate.
Furthermore, the Tibetan people celebrate their traditional new year, which is calculated according to the Tibetan calendar and usually falls in January or February on the international calendar. So, if you’re visiting Tibet in January, you may have an opportunity to witness and participate in the authentic Tibetan New Year celebrations.
Barkhor Street in Lhasa
Nyingchi is located at the bordering region between Tibet Autonomous Region and Sichuan Province. Nyingchi has enormous forests which have contributed most of Tibet’s forest resources. Besides the most famous tourism icon “Nyingchi Peach Blossom Festival in March,” it is also home to the most beautiful mountain “Mount Namcha Barwa” (voted by Chinese National Geography Magazine). The peak of Namcha Barwa is covered by the lingering mist and fog for most of the year and is rarely seen by tourists. Thus, there is a myth spread amongst tourists that a person who has caught a clear view of the peak will be very lucky. This not only applies to tourists but also to photographers as well. That is what makes Mount Namcha Barwa an intriguing destination to visit. Since it rarely rains in January there, it is a great time for good-luck seekers or photograph fanatics to visit Nyingchi and have a lucky encounter with Mount Namcha Barwa.
Mount Namcha Barwa