Tibet Weather & Climate

Geographically the Tibetan plateau is known as the roof of the world or third pole of the earth. With an average altitude of 4950m above sea level, the Tibetan plateau is bound by two mighty mountain ranges. The Himalayan range consists of the world's highest peak Mt.Everest and is situated from south to west. The Thanggula range in the north consists of alpine terrain conditions, the severe, dry and continental climate in Tibet. With strong winds, low humidity, a rarefied atmosphere and a huge fluctuation in annual daytime temperatures, the Tibetan plateau are exposed to an unhampered cool arctic air from the north; while the southern tropical and equatorial air masses barely penetrate the Himalayan barrier into Central Asia. The strong heat during the summer months and the freezing in winter produce clear seasonal variations in atmospheric circulation and enhance the role of local centers of atmospheric activity.

Tibet's atmosphere is severely dry for nine months of the year, and the average annual snowfall is only 18 inches, due to the rain shadow effect. Western passes receive small amounts of fresh snow each year but remain traversable all year round. Low temperatures are prevalent throughout the western regions. The Indian monsoon exerts some influence on eastern Tibet. Northern Tibet is subject to high temperatures in the summer and intense cold in the winter. All of these conditions make touring through Tibet one of the most incredible and inspirational journeys on earth.

There are 6 main distinguishing features of Tibet weather and climate:
 
1.     Thin air, low air pressure, Low oxygen
2.     The annual temperature range is small, while the daily temperature range is large.
3.     The dry season and rainy season are distinct, with raining mostly at night.
4.     Complex climate types with vertical changes, cold and dry in the higher northwest; warm and humid in the lower southeast.
5.     Dry season (Oct. to May next year) and rainy season (June to Sep.) are obvious. Annual precipitation is small and unevenly distributed.
6.     Tibet is the place with the most solar radiation energy in China, less cloud, strong UV rays.
 

Below are the annual temperature tables of major cities in Tibet for a clear understanding of the Tibet climate distinction

Climate table of Tibet major cities in comparison

City Average Annual Max. Temp.
(°C)
Average Annual Min. Temp.
(°C)
Sunny days Cloudy days Rainy days  
Snowy days
Altitude
(m)
Lhasa 17 3 97 167 94 2 3658
Tsedang 18 2 100 163 98 1 3500
Gyantse 14 -2 106 174 79 2 4040
Shigatse 16 0 121 167 72 2 3836
Tingri 13 -5 113 170 70 7 4300
Damshang 11 -4 60 184 95 14 4200
Nyingchi 17 5 35 129 191 5 3000
Pomi 17 5 42 125 187 6 2750
Chamdo 17 1 42 159 139 10 3240
Ngari/Ali 9 -6 115 205 32 7 4500
Nakchu 7 5 70 191 60 9 4507


Weather and Climate by cities 

 Lhasa

Best travel time (all year)

Lhasa is the capital city and the biggest city in Tibet. It is the first city most travelers will step onto after entering Tibet. So the Lhasa weather and climate is one of the main concerning information for most of the travelers. There are some features of the weather in Lhasa.
 
1.     Low temperature, annual temperature range is small, while the daily temperature range is large. In June – Sep. the temperature at noontime could reach to 27-29°C,but in the evening, it suddenly dropped to 15°C, in the middle night, even 0-5°C.
 
2.     Dry and humid seasons are distinct, in Tibet monsoon season June – Sep, rain starts from southeast Nyingchi to northwest Ngari, in Lhasa, usually only obvious from June – August, but mostly it rains at night, and it never affects the nice weather next day.
 
3.     The air is thin because of high altitude, with strong solar radiation. Lhasa has 3021 hours of sunshine in the whole year, with an average of more than 8 hours every day, that’s why we call it the “The City of Sunlight”. Lhasa tour is the most sold tours in Tibet.

Lhasa annual temperature table

Months

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

Highest Temperature

(C°)

8

11

13

17

21

25

24

23

22

18

13

10

Lowest Temperature

(C°)

-8

-4

-1

3

7

12

12

12

10

4

-3

-7



Tsedang 

Best travel time (all year)

Tsedang is in the Naidong District of Shannan city, around 191km away from Lhasa city, and around 87km away from the Lhasa Kongga International Airport. Tsedang is geographically located on the east side of the confluence of Yalong River and Yarlung Zangbo River with annual average temperature of 8°C - 9℃.  The average temperature in the hottest month is 15.7 ℃, Annual precipitation: 302mm.
1.     Summer is short and cool, winter is long and dry. 
2.     Heavy wind.
3.     Great temperature difference in morning and evening
4.     Complex terrain, high mountains and deep valleys which produce many different types of climate.
5.     Long duration of sunshine, annually 1,800 – 2,500 hours.

Tsedang or Samye annual Temperature table

Months

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

Highest Temperature

(C°)

9

12

14

17

21

25

24

24

22

18

14

11

Lowest Temperature

(C°)

-8

-5

-2

2

6

11

12

11

9

3

-3

-7

 

Shigatse

Best travel time (all year)


Shigatse, the capital of Tsang province (western Tibet), is 380km away from Lhasa via Gyantse through the southern friendship highway and 280km west of Lhasa via the northern friendship highway along the river. 

Weather and climate in Shigatse usually varies from summer to winter season smoothly. The winter are quite harsh and dry. But from spring to autumn it is quite moderate. 
 
1.     Thin air, low air pressure, low oxygen 
2.     Strong solar radiation with annual average of 3,300 hours sunshine. 
3.     The frost-free period in Shigatse is more than 120 days, and the snowfall intensity is small, concentrated in Pagri – Nyalam – south of Tingri. 
4.     Dry and monsoon season are obvious. Oct. – April next year, the precipitation is less than 10% of the annual precipitation, May – Sep. 90%.

Shigatse annual Temperature table

Months

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

Highest Temperature

(C°)

7

9

12

16

20

24

23

22

21

16

12

9

Lowest Temperature

(C°)

-12

-9

-5

1

5

10

11

101

7

0

-8

-12

Gyantse

Best travel time (all year) 


Gyantse, in Tibetan language means the pinnacle of victory, or the top of a palace. It is located in central Tibet. It is one of the most heroic touristic city in Tibet, with attractions of the Gyantse Fort and Palchoe Monastery, etc. Every year, hundreds of visitors come to Gyantse for pilgrimage or visiting. Below is the annual temperature index of Gyantse.

Gyantse annual Temperature table

Months

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

Highest Temperature

(C°)

6

8

10

14

18

22

21

21

20

15

11

8

Lowest Temperature

(C°)

-13

-10

-6

-1

2

7

8

7

4

-1

-9

-12


Namtso Lake (60km away from Damxung County)

Best travel time (May – October)

Namtso Lake is the second largest lake in Tibet. It is approximately rectangular in shape, more than 70 kilometers long from east to west, more than 30 kilometers wide from north to south, with an area of about 1,920km². Elevation is 4,718m on the lake surface. Mostly in summer season, it’s definitely a good choice to visit Namtso Lake and for the sunrise and sunset there.

The climate there is quite cold all the year round with thin air. The four seasons are not clear, more rainy days, and snowstorm could occur from winter to spring next year.

Namtso Lake annual Temperature table

Months

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

Highest Temperature

(C°)

-7

-5

4

12

13

16

17

16

14

9

7

2

Lowest Temperature

(C°)

-19

-16

-11

-2

-5

2

5

5

3

-2

-13

-18


Ngari (Ali) Prefecture

Best travel time (April – October)

Ngari or in Chinese called Ali prefecture, contiguous to Xinjiang in the north, Nepal, India, and Jammu in the southwest and west. The total area of the whole region is 337174.95 square kilometers, permanent resident population 107 thousand. 

 

Ngari is a category II wind area, with an annual average wind speed of more than 3.2 meters per second, a gale frequency of more than 8 levels, and an annual gale days of about 149 days. The annual average temperature is 0 , and the daily average temperature changes greatly.

 

The annual precipitation in Ali is quite small and seasonal. From October to April of the second year, the precipitation only accounts for 10% - 20% of the whole year, while from May to September, the precipitation is very concentrated, generally accounting for more than 80% of the whole year.

 Due to the high altitude in Ngari/Ali area, the winter is long and cold
 

Ngari (Ali) Prefecture annual Temperature table

Months

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

Highest Temperature

(C°)

-4

-4

2

8

13

19

22

22

17

10

4

0

Lowest Temperature

(C°)

-20

-18

-13

-7

-2

5

10

9

3

-6

-13

-17

 

Gyirong 

Best travel time (All year)

 
Gyirong is also known as Kyirong, is a small county located near the border between China and Nepal. It is the gateway of Tibet and Nepal in the south-west of Tibet. Gyirong is a quite famous place as the abundant vegetation which is quite unusual on the Tibetan plateau. And its climatic condition is moderate.
 
The annual average temperature is 2 ℃, the average temperature of the warmest month is 10-18 ℃, the average temperature of the coldest month is - 10 ℃
 
The annual precipitation is about 300-600mm, which belongs to the continental climate area of temperature, humidity and semi-arid.
 
The south of Gyirong is subtropical mountain monsoon climate area, with an annual average temperature of 10-13 ℃, the warmest month temperature of over 18 ℃, annual precipitation of about 1000mm, and annual frost free days of over 200 days.

Gyirong annual Temperature table

Months

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

Highest Temperature

(C°)

5

5

7

12

16

21

21

20

19

14

10

8

Lowest Temperature

(C°)

-14

-12

-8

-2

2

7

9

9

6

-2

-10

-13


Sakya

Best travel time (All year)

 
Sakya is in the north-west of Shigatse city, and it’s located in the north foot of the Himalayas and the southwest edge of the Gangdise mountains. It is one of the border counties, with a border line of 105 kilometers.
 
Saga County belongs to the semi-arid climate area of the plateau frigid zone. The air is thin and dry, the sunshine is abundant, and the temperature difference between day and night is large. 
The annual sunshine hours are between 3000-3400 hours. The annual frost free period is about 105 days. The annual precipitation is 280 mm.
 
Sakya annual Temperature table

Months

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

Highest Temperature

(C°)

5

6

9

13

17

22

20

20

19

14

10

8

Lowest Temperature

(C°)

-14

-12

-8

-2

3

8

9

8

6

-2

-9

-12

 

Nyingchi

Best travel time (All year)

Nyingchi is in the south-east of Tibet, middle and lower reaches of the Yarlung Zangbo River, connected with Lhasa and Shannan respectively in the west and southwest. 
Myingchi has variety of tropical, subtropical, temperate and cold climate, with annual rainfall is about 650 mm, annual average temperature is 8.7 ℃, annual average sunshine is 2022.2 hours, frost free period is 180 days.
 
During March, Nyingchi is a most attractive place for the blossom of its peach flowers. 

Nyingchi annual Temperature table 

Months

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

Highest Temperature

(C°)

9

11

14

17

20

23

23

24

22

18

15

11

Lowest Temperature

(C°)

-5

-2

1

4

8

12

13

12

11

6

-1

-4

What to wear in different seasons in Tibet?

 

Spring (March – April

 
During this season, the winter atmosphere could still keep relatively strong, so you need to wear warm clothes. 
 
*  Warm Nylon pants or hiking pants
*  Thermal underwear+ Fleece or Wool Sweater + warm coat/Down jacket
*  Warm sneakers/hiking shoes.
*  Wool or fiber-pile ski-style cap
*  Scarf 
 

Summer (May – August)
 

Summer time is quite comfortable and warm in most parts of Tibet. It’s the peak season of Tibet tourism, but don’t forget that in the evening, it’s still quite cool.
 
*  Day time: T-shirt/pullover/ long-sleeved shirt or with a fleece jacket 
*  Thin Pants, light-weight cotton pants
*  Evening: Add a fiber-pile jacket, loose-fitting wool pants
* A lightweight brimmed hat for sun protection
 

Autumn (Sep. – Oct.) 

Autumn is neither too cold nor too hot, so it’s also one of the best seasons to travel to Tibet. 
*  Winter jacket or thick coat better with windproof function
*  Wool or wool mix with a high neck for extra warmth
*  Wool or fiber-pile ski-style cap
*  Warm Nylon pants or hiking pants
*  Sneakers or hiking shoes 

 
Winter (Nov. Feb. next year)
In fact it’s still warm and dry in the day time during winter time, with abundant sunshine, but in the evening and middle night, it’s extremely cold, so you’d better prepare clothes for all four seasons.
 


Lhasa Weather and Climate
Lhasa is the biggest city in Tibet and it grows very fast ove
Gyantse Weather and Climate
Gyantse is located in central Tibet. It is one of the most f
Shigatse Weather and Climate
Shigatse , the capital of Tsang province (western Tibet), is
Gyirong Weather and Climate
Gyirong is also known as Kyirong. It is a small county locate
Sakya Weather and Climate
Sakya county is located in Tibetan Autonomous Region. It is l

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