What to Wear in Four Seasons in Tibet

Tibet has attracted domestic and international tourists because of its unique plateau landscape and rarely-known ethical culture. Called the Roof of World, the Tibetan Plateau, has its own climate and weather due to its geographical location and high elevation. The entire Tibet Autonomous Region is situated on the plateau, of which the weather in one day can vary so differently that it has generated a saying "Four seasons coexist in one day and one day sees dramatically variable weather patterns.".

Given that the weather is changeable, what shall we wear travelling to Tibet? How can we make the clothing packing wisely light-weighted and also functional? Let's have a quick glance at the weather conditions of the four seasons in Tibet and our clothing tips for each.

Spring (March to May)

The early spring sees slowly rising temperature. In cities at elevation below 4,000 meters, the daily average high reaches 12 degrees Celsius in March, 15 in April and 19 in May, while in higher elevation area, the mountain passes still encounter occasional snow and the lake frozen in winter starts to thaw in late March and usually completely melt in late May. March is one of the windiest months in Tibet. The heavy winds make the actual temperature feels much colder. A beanie, neckerchief, and wind-proof coat are suggested.

Tourists in Lhasa in April  
Tourists in Lhasa in April

Summer (June to August)

Summer is the warmest season in Tibet and brings the most rainfall in a year. Rains often happen in the nighttime, so, it has little impact on the outdoor activates. However, rains also make the road condition a little riskier with the higher chance of landslide, and land avalanche, lower visuality. In Lhasa, or other towns like Shigatse and Ningchi, the daily average high in summer ranges from 20 to 22 degrees Celsius, while the daily average low is from 9 to 10 degrees Celsius. It feels not hot at all but comfortably cool. For some people who have higher tolerance of cold, they can wear just one T-shirt and knee-above trousers at noon. But if your travel plan includes Mount Everest, Namtso Lake, or any attraction with mountain pass where heavy wind is frequent, a winter coat is still a must-have.

Tourists on the way to Shigatse in July  
Tourists on the way to Shigatse in July

Autumn (September to November)

Rains have almost left the Tibetan Plateau after the steps of summer. From September to November, the temperature drops by 5 degrees Celsius each month. The average high in September is about 20℃, by October it is 16℃; and by November it is 11℃. In the mornings and evenings, the lowest ranges from -5 to 1 degrees Celsius. It feels even colder when there is wind. So, to keep yourself properly warm should still have your priority of clothing tips in autumn.

Tourists at Everest Base Camp in October  
Tourists at Everest Base Camp in October

Winter (December to February)

The average high temperature in Lhasa is from 7 to 9 degrees Celsius, while the average low is only -10 to -7 degrees Celsius. It is seriously cold. Heavy snows happen frequently from October and the road condition becomes unstable. Lower visuality and slippery surface makes traveling to the remote areas a bit dangerous. Warm clothing with windproof and waterproof functions is most handy. Shoes with high boots to keep your ankles warm and with windproof surface are highly recommended.

A Tourist at the shore of Yamdrok Lake in January  
A Tourist at the shore of Yamdrok Lake in January

Conclusion for Clothing Tips

As mentioned above, weather in one day varies distinctly. No matter which season you're traveling to Tibet, layered clothing, a warm coat and a good pair of shoes are packing essentials. Summer is mildly warm and winter is pleasantly warm in the daytime of Tibet, which makes Tibet a good place to escape hot wave and have a nice winter hideaway with enjoyable sunbathing experience.

What we suggest

Tops: A warm coat or jacket, or sportswear with inner lining to maintain warmth is a must-have for all seasons; Windproof or rainproof is a bonus; Layered clothing including sweater or thermo suits are wise as they can be easily removed or put back on when temperature changes within a day.

Bottoms: We suggest autumn or winter trousers that are bendy and suitable for walking.

Underwear: For the protection of environment, we don't suggest disposable underwear, but quick-dry is a good choice for traveling.

Shoes: Hard-bottom outdoor shoes are suggested; If you travel to Mount Everest, or trek/hike outdoors, shoes with high boots are better to prevent the dirt or gravels entering into the shoes;

What we don't suggest: cotton clothing is not a wise option in Tibet. It can take ages to dry up.

Wildlife Bird-watching Clothing Tips: To not scare the animals and birds, light colored clothing is advised.

Outdoor activity clothing tips: Bright colored wear is suggested for the safety of people as it will be easier to spot and locate those who get lost in the wild.

Other Clothing and Packing Tips

  1. The UV rays in Tibet are extraordinarily strong which requires sunscreen or sunblock all the year. Hats, sunglasses, neckerchiefs are all packing essentials.
  2. The humidity in Tibet is about 30% lower than the human comfort level (57%). Hence a lipstick, moisture cream should be prepared. And drinking ample water to keep hydrated is important.
  3. July and August have 80% of the annual precipitation in Tibet. Lightweight raincoat, umbrella, rainproof shoes/coats should be taken with you during the period.
  4. Heating pads can be easily found in supermarkets, which comes in handy when traveling to areas with minus zero temperature environment.
  5. If you want to try Tibetan costumes, you can find many options in Barkhor Street, Lhasa, either by renting or having photographing service which involved costumes lending.
  6. If your planned destination involves remote areas, you should pack your own towel, flip-flop, toiletries, as the small hotels in those areas may not provide such stuff.
  7. You can take a sleeping bag if you plan to camp or mind the basic level of sanitary conditions.
  8. Even in the hottest time of summer, wearing sleeveless tops or skirts will be regarded disrespectful when entering the religious sites.
Related articles
Tibet Weather in November As the early winter in Tibet, November has the comfortable temperatures ranging from -5°C to 12°C, with dryer and clearer weather. You’ll feel warm in daytime because of the bright sunshine on the plateau as always!
Tibet Weather in December In December, the temperatures drop as low as -9°C at night. But you’ll also enjoy agreeable sunny weather during the day, with the highest temperature up to 9°C. A moderate tour in central Tibet would be a good choice.
Tibet Weather in October With the highest temperature up to 17°C, October is still a great time for Tibet travel. Sun cream is essential as the UV rays are strong all year around. Snows may block the way to remote areas from end of the month.
Tibet Weather in September Rainy season comes to an end from this month, and the weather is delightfully cool. Grab the last chance to travel to Tibet before Tibet gets cold. Just be aware of the huge temperature difference between day and night.
Tibet Weather in August Summer continues in August. You’ll enjoy a warm and pleasurable weather while traveling in Tibet. On the other hand, August has the heaviest rainfall throughout the year, so an umbrella should be in your packing list.
Tibet Weather in July Here summer comes! The temperature can get as high as 23°C in daytime. However, it will drop below 10°C at night. So, don’t forget to bring a jacket or sweater for nights. A down coat is also needed for the Everest tour.

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