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Is It Cold in Tibet? How to Prepare?

Time: 03-06-2019 This Article is Composed by BudgetTibetTour

Potala Palace Tibet in winter Potala Palace Tibet in winter

Commonly known as the Third Pole on Earth, the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is the world’s largest and highest plateau of unique climate. When it comes to the name of “Land of Snow”, people would likely to imagine Tibet as a desolate place of extreme coldness and biting wind with heavy snow covered. However, is Tibet really as cold as they imagine?

The weather in Tibet varies from areas to areas and from altitude to altitude. Even in the same day, there is a huge difference of temperature between day and night. Usually, the higher the altitude is, the colder the weather is. And over a day, morning and evening are colder than the noon. Besides, coldness also varies over the four seasons. If you want to know how cold is Tibet over the four seasons, just refer to the following guide.

Part 1. How Cold is Tibet in Summer?
Part 2. Is Tibet Cold in Winter?
Part 3. How Cold Is Tibet in Spring and Autumn?
Part 4. How to Prepare for the Coldness in Tibet?

Part 1. How Cold is Tibet in Summer? (June - August)

As the nickname “land of snow” indicates, Tibet probably be imagined as a very cold place all year round, but actually in summer, Tibet turns into a land of oasis with flowers blossoming on verdant grassland and fungus mushrooming inside a lively forest. Every summer, Tibet witnesses the largest number of tourists from home and abroad thanks for its favorable weather. And, as a matter of fact, Tibet has already become one of the most popular summer resorts for people who want to escape from the scorching days in big cities.    

Summer Average Temperature in Lhasa
Region/weather Average Minimum Temperature(℃) Average Maximum Temperature(℃) Average Precipitation(mm)
Lhasa 9 25 76

But do not get misled by us that you could just wear a T-shirt and shorts to Tibet. It is seriously cold in some high-altitude areas like Mt. Everest Base Camp and Mount Kailash region which are also very popular tourists’ sites in Tibet. There, you could find it particularly cold with stronger winds on rainy days. If someone plans to visit those areas, better forget whether it’s summer or winter, because those high altitude mountainous areas have no seasons changes. 

However, in some low altitude areas like Lhasa and Shigatse, the average temperature in summer ranges from 16-28 degree centigrade in the day time, which makes you feel cool. As long as you do not get exposed under the strong sunlight directly, you will feel very comfortable there. When night falls, the temperature will sharply drop to around 10-16 degree centigrade. You might feel cooler at night. If you wear a T-shirt in the noon, then you might need one more jacket at nighttime.

Additionally, summer is also the rainy season for Tibet, especially in July and August. Landslide might happen in eastern Tibet, yet luckily most of our tours do not cover that region. Moreover, the rain usually falls in the evening, which would not affect your outdoor sightseeing in the day time. But the rainy and misty weather might block the views of Himalayan peaks.

Month Jun Jul Aug
Temperature (Celsius) 15.5 15.3 14.5
Rainfall (cm) 72.3 119.4 122.6
Days of Rainfall 9.6 14.8 15.3

Temperature and Rainfall Data Table for Tibet in Summer (Jun. – Aug.)

All in all, summer is one of the best seasons for traveling to Tibet. The weather is cool and comfortable, not very cold or hot. You can visit almost everywhere you want. For example, you can go to explore Lhasa city, to see the most important sight around Lhasa, to visit the Namtso Lake-Lhasa, or to have a holy Lhasa plus sky lake tour, etc.

Also Read:
How to Get the Tibet Travel Permit >
How to Get to Tibet By Train >

Part 2. Is Tibet Cold in Winter? (November - May)

To many tourists, winter might be not an ideal season for visiting Tibet, as the weather there might be so freezing. Also, caused by the heavy snow, routes might be blocked. However, is Tibet really too cold to visit in winter?

As a matter of fact, winter is not as harsh as you imagine. On high altitude mountains passes, it might be extremely cold and you may encounter thick layers of snow. Meanwhile, in some low altitude areas like Lhasa and Shigatse in Tibet, one could even expect warm climate in winter. Sunshine can be found everywhere during the winter. The daily maximum temperatures can reach up to 10 degree centigrade thanks for the plentiful sunshine, which is even warmer than most of cities in the northern hemisphere at the same latitude.

Note: When night comes, the temperature would likely to plummets to minus 10 degrees Celcius due to the big gap of temperature between day and night, so you’d better take enough warm clothes to prevent yourself from catching a cold at night.

Climate Data Table for Tibet in Winter (Nov.- Jan.)
Month Average Temperature November December January
The average maximum daily temperature 9℃ 4.6 8.1 11.9
The average minimum daily temperature -7℃ -4℃ -8℃ -9℃
Average perception in winter 1mm 1mm 1mm 1mm

As you can see, winter is actually not too cold to travel in Tibet. In fact, it is warm in comparison with other areas in the world at the same altitude. More importantly, there are many benefits you can gain from winter tour in Tibet.

Rongbuk and Mt. Everest Rongbuk and Mt. Everest

  1. Fewer Tourists.
    Tourists in winter are lesser compared to the other seasons of the year. Therefore, you will get a better chance to stroll around the Barkhor Street leisurely, admire the ancient sculpture and exquisite fresco in the Potala Palace, or pay a pilgrimage trip to the solemn Jokhang Temple, etc.
  2. Best Time to See Snowy Mountains.
    It’s one of the best time to get a perfect view of snowy peak in winter. Especially the Mt. Everest, which will present you a majestic pyramid-like peak with the golden sunray crown. Such a stunning view contrasted with the clear blue sky and fleecy clouds.
  3. Big Discount.
    Winter is not a busy time for Tibet tourism. Therefore, to attract more tourists there in winter, many sectors related to tourism decrease their price and offer tourists a big discount. For instance, the hotels, flights, entrance fees, even the car rentals decrease to half of the original price. That would be a big saving.
  4. Grand Tibetan Festivals. 
    Many grand Tibetan festivals like the Tibetan New Year will be celebrated in winter and this will give you chances to experience the real culture of Tibet. Besides, in winter, there is no farming and nomading in Tibet, the people from rural and remote areas will come to Lhasa to do pilgrim, and winter is a greater chance to see pilgrim

    Pilgrims before the Johkang Temple Pilgrims before the Johkang Temple

    Pilgrims before the Johkang Temple

Part 3. How Cold Is Tibet in Spring and Autumn?

Spring in Tibet is a time of re-birth and new beginnings. The winter chill eases away, the days get longer and snow begins to melt. As temperature rises, Tibet is getting warmer and warmer.

The average highest temperature in some low altitude areas like Lhasa and Nyingchi can reach up to 20 degree centigrade in the daytime, which is warm and suitable for traveling. But due to a big difference of temperature between day and night, you might feel a bit shivery at night when the temperature plummet to about -1 or -2 degree. But this would not affect your outdoor activities as long as you make full preparation for keeping warm.

Spring, especially from mid-March to the end of April, is the best time to visit Nyingchi. At this time, clusters of peach blossoms flourish everywhere over the hills and dales in Nyingchi, which is a stunning scenery that has attracted countless tourists traveling here.

Trekking in Tibet Trekking in Tibet

Climate Data Table for Tibet in Spring (Mar to May)
Month Mar Apr May
Temperature (Celsius) 4.6 8.1 11.9
Rainfall (cm) 2.0 5.2 26.6
Days of Rainfall 0.5 1.3 5.3

Autumn is a season that is similar to the spring, neither too hot nor cold. But unlike the warm spring, the autumn is cool and dry. The average daily temperature is about 22 degrees in some low altitude areas like Lhasa. It could be a bit cold only at night when the temperature drops to zero or below.
Autumn is also a dry season in Tibet, and there is very little rain in October and November, which is the best time for trekking on some high-altitude areas. For instance, trekking the base camp of the highest mountain >

Month Sep Oct Nov
Temperature (Celsius) 12.8 8.1 2.2
Rainfall (cm) 58.3 10.2 1.7
Days of Rainfall 10.0 2.3 0.4

Climate Data Table for Tibet in Autumn ( September to November )

Part 4. How to Prepare for the Coldness in Tibet?

Before entering Tibet, we prepare a list of must-take items for traveling to Tibet for you. Hope it can help you a lot.

Anti-sunburn hat for Tibet tour Anti-sunburn hat for Tibet tour

  1. Warm clothes: the sweaters and fleeces are necessary, either in summer or winter. Thick down coat is needed if you want to go to the Mt. Everest or Mt. Kailash.  
  2. Shoes: a comfortable and durable pair of sports shoes are needed. If you want to trek or hike in Tibet, you need to take a climbing shoe as well.
  3. NO SHOWER: Don’t take a shower the first day, because it might put you at great risk of catching cold which is regarded bad for your acclimatization and stay in Tibet.
  4. HAT: A hat is necessary. It can not only help you avoid the strong sunlight but also can keep you warm.
  5. Thermos flask: Drink plenty of hot water can make your stomach more comfortable in Tibet.
  6. Medicine: Altitude sickness medicine (take the medicine one day before arriving Tibet), Motion sickness medicine, Anti-diarrhea medicine ( in case that the Tibetan food does not agree with your digestive system), Nasal ointment and throat lozenges, Quick Acting Heart Reliever, etc.
More Tibet Geography & Climate
Detailed Guide About Where Is Tibet and How to Get to Tibet

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Tibet Weather and What to Pack for your Tibet Travel

Tibet Weather and What to Pack for your Tibet Travel

Want to explore the uniqueness and mystery of Tibet? Before your trip, check out our article to know the detailed information about Tibet weather and climate, including temperature, wind, precipitation, soar radiation and pack-list for your Tibet tour.
Travelers' Questions Might Help

The questions raised by our past customers can help you get a more clear picture about tours to Tibet, read them or tell us your own questions via the form on the right side, our specialists will reply you within 24 hours.

user portrait Mr. Ju*** from: 4 Days Lhasa Holy Landmarks Express

Hi, I plan to arrive in Lhasa on the 9th of March in 2020 by train and would like to do a 4 day tour. Unfortunately there are no tours scheduled between January and April, will there be tours added or are there not any planned?

Kind regards

Julian Franz

Answered by Helen

Hello Mr. Ju***,

    Thanks very much for your inquiry. We currently have no group tour in February and March, if you would like to travel Tibet in these months, we are able to arrange a private tour for you. While there are several confirmed departure date for the group tour in January and April, if your time is flexible, you may consider joining a group tour in April. I will send detailed itinerary to your email, please check it. Warm regards.

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