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Tibet Weather in May – Travel Tips for the Start of Peak Season in Tibet

When other places have already come to the end of spring in May, it is just the peak season in Tibet. Weather in most of the places are sunny, dry, and cool, offering tourists a wonderful opportunity to travel in Tibet. Lhasa has gradually awakened from the cold winter and becomes an energetic and vital lion again. Temperature is between 6 degrees at nights and around 20 degrees in the daytime in the city, with nearly two-thirds of the days being sunny. As for other places such as Yamdrok, Shigatse, and Namtso, the weather has also become warmer. Temperatures in Yamdrok and Shigatse can be as high as 23 degrees in the daytime. However, because the water in Namtso is melting, the daily temperature of the region is a little lower than that of Yamdrok and Shigatse, which is around 11 Centigrade degrees.

Tibet in May

Tibet is waking up in May

May is one of the most favorable time for tourists to Tibet, with the weather being neither too hot nor too cold. Even the temperatures in EBC in Mt. Kailash are higher than they were in the previous months, ranging between 0 degree to 15 degrees. Besides, road conditions are getting better because it doesn’t rain or snow heavily during this period, so doing kora in Mt. Kailash is possible in May.

Overall Tibet Climate in May

  • Average Minimum Temperature: 5 ℃ (41℉)
  • Average Maximum Temperature: 19 ℃ (66.2℉)
  • Tibet Average Temperature: 12 ℃ (53.6℉)
  • Average Precipitation/Rainfall: 25 mm (0.98in)
  • Wet Days (>0.1mm): 3
  • Relative Humidity: 59%

Tibet is a place rich in natural resources. For those who have missed the peach blossoms in March and April, they should definitely go to Tibet in May. It is the blossoming season of rhododendrons. There are over 800 species of rhododendrons in the world, and Tibet itself possesses half of the species. Therefore, tourists can get a feast of rhododendrons in Tibet if they go there in May. The whole flowering period of rhododendrons in Tibet is about two and a half months, from mid-April to the end of June. In addition to rhododendrons, tourists are also able to enjoy the beautiful rapeseed flowers all over the mountains and fields in Tibet. Tourists will absolutely lose themselves within this golden world.

Weather in May is so pleasant that it attracts many tourists to this place during the period, so May is the beginning of peak season of Tibet tourism. Yet compared with the rest of few months, it is not that crowded in May. Because of the dry and cool weather as well as the little rainfall, many tourists choose to go to Tibet in May for trekking and mountain climbing.

Lhasa Tibet Climate in May

  • Average Minimum Temperature: 6 ℃ (42.8℉)
  • AAverage Maximum Temperature: 20 ℃ (68℉)
  • AAverage Precipitation/Rainfall: 26 mm (1.02in)

As a landmark building in Lhasa and the highest palace in the world, the Potala Palace is a must-visit place for a trip to Lhasa. Potala Palace is less bustling in May than the rest several months, allowing tourists to explore the religious culture better. After visiting the Potala Palace, tourists can then go to taste the yak yoghurt at the yoghurt shops which are just outside the western parking lot of the palace. In the afternoon, tourists can go to Barkhor Street to buy some gifts for friends and relatives. A Tibetan banquet shouldn’t be missed for a trip to Lhasa. Tourists had better book restaurants in advance so that they don’t have to queue up for hours to have dinners.

In addition to the Potala Palace, Barkhor Street, and Jokhang Temple, there are still many places which are worth a visit in Lhasa: the Drepung Monastery (the largest temple in Tibet), Sera Temple, Norbulingka Summer Palace, and Zaki Temple (Temple of Wealth).

Barkhor Street

Barkhor Street

In May, there is no problem to wear knitwear plus a light down coat in Lhasa. Although the temperature will be so high at noon that you can wear a single clothes or even short sleeves in Lhasa, it is still cold in the morning and at nights. Therefore, we suggest that you wear more clothes when you go out in the morning, and then you can take off some clothes when you feel hot.

The sunshine and ultraviolet are very strong in Lhasa throughout the year. Therefore, you need to make full preparation to against the sunshine when you are in Lhasa. In addition to skin-moisturizing, protecting yourself from sunburn is also of great importance. So don’t forget to bring a sun hat and sunglasses before you go to Lhasa.

Namtso Tibet Climate in May

  • Average Minimum Temperature: -3 ℃ (26.6℉)
  • Average Maximum Temperature: 11 ℃ (51.8℉)
  • Average Precipitation/Rainfall: 31 mm (1.22in)

Namtso is one of the three holy lakes in Tibet, located to the north of Lhasa and covering an area of 1,920 square kilometers. Even though the temperature difference between day and night remains large in May, the weather is gradually is getting warmer. Ice of the lake begins to melt during this period, so tourists can have the chance to appreciate the turquoise water of the lake. In the Chinese zodiac Year of Sheep, Tibetan people would make pilgrimages around Namtso Lake by walking around the lake circle after circle. They believe by doing this, their sins will be washed away. Therefore, tourists might see more pilgrims in the Year of Sheep than in other years.

Lake Namtso

Lake Namtso

You need to wear thick winter clothes when you go to Namtso in May. A wind-proof down coat would be better, as it can keep you warm to the most extent. Besides, the wind by the lakeside is pretty strong, so we suggest that you put on a hat when you are enjoying the scenery of Namtso outside the car.

Nyingchi Tibet Climate in May

  • Average Minimum Temperature: 12 ℃ (53.6℉)
  • Average Maximum Temperature: 19 ℃ (66.2℉)
  • Average Precipitation/Rainfall: 75 mm (2.95in)

Average temperature of Nyingchi in May is about 16 degrees, a little higher than other places in Tibet. The air is rather humid during this period, because May is the beginning of rainy season of Nyingchi and average rainfall is about 75 mm during this period. Peach blossom season has already gone, but the rhododendrons in Nyingchi as no less beautiful than its peach blossoms. The whole scenery of the bloody-red rhododendrons and lush leaves in May is astonishingly amazing, so tourists, especially trekkers and mountains can absolutely enjoy a lot during their journey in Nyingchi.

Mount Namcha Barwa

Mount Namcha Barwa

Rain gear such as umbrellas can be prepared for a trip to Nyingchi in May. It is relatively warm during this period, so you can just wear a summer clothes plus a light jacket while visiting Nyingchi. If you are not cold-resistant, you can prepare an extra knitted sweater for a rainy day.

Shannan Tibet Climate in May

  • Average Minimum Temperature: 6 ℃ (42.8℉)
  • Average Maximum Temperature: 20 ℃ (68℉)
  • Average Precipitation/Rainfall: 26 mm (1.02in)

Though temperature in Shannan can increase rapidly to 20 degrees in May, it is still a good time for trekking within the area. The most popular trekking route is from Ganden to Samye Monasteries, during which tourists can make a short visit to the famous Yumbulakang Palace, the first palace ever built in Tibet.

In addition to the Yumbulakang Palace, there is another place that tourists can pay a visit to: the Trandruk Temple. It is located in Tsedang Town, the political, cultural, and economic center of Shannan. Trandruk Temple is one of the earliest geomantic temples in Tibet. While visiting the temple, tourists need to keep several things in mind: firstly, hats should be taken off and smoking is forbidden in the temple; secondly, watching the objects in the temple is permitted, but touching Buddha statues and scriptures are prohibited. Thirdly, walking in a counter-clockwise direction in some places of the temple is inappropriate, so tourists had better walk in a clockwise direction in the temple.

Trandruk Temple

Trandruk Temple

Average temperature in May in Shannan is about the same as that in Lhasa. But because the vegetation in Shannan is less than the vegetation in Nyingchi, the temperature during this period in Shannan will be a little bit higher. You can wear long sleeves plus a jacket or a light down coat when you go to Shannan in May. Besides, there is still strong sunshine in the daytime, and you need to pay attention to protect yourself from a sunburn during this period.

Yamdrok Lake Tibet Climate in May

  • Average Minimum Temperature: 3 ℃ (37.4℉)
  • Average Maximum Temperature: 12 ℃ (53.6℉)
  • Average Precipitation/Rainfall: 17 mm (0.67in)

May is the beginning of the best time to visit Yamdrok Lake throughout the year. Temperature keeps increasing to 12 degrees, so the weather is warm enough for a trip to the lake during this period. Water of the lake is shinning under the sun, like a sapphire left by fairy maiden. There is little rainfall in May, so tourists can camp by the lake if time is permitted, so that they can enjoy the beautiful starry sky at nights. Besides, the amount of the birds on the islands during this period is the most throughout the year, making the month one of the perfect time to watch those birds.

Yamdrok Lake

Yamdrok Lake

Yamdrok is warm in May, but you still can’t take off your sweaters and fleece jackets during this period, as the temperature difference between day and night remains large. When there is no sunshine in the daytime, you also need to put on extra underwear inside and button up your coat outside to keep out the cold.

Gyantse Tibet Climate in May

  • Average Minimum Temperature: 2℃ (35.6℉)
  • Average Maximum Temperature: 18℃ (64.4℉)
  • Average Precipitation/Rainfall: 20mm (0.79in)

Temperature in Gyantse has begun to increase since April, so the weather in May wouldn’t be very cold even at nights (mostly above 0 Centigrade degree). Because of the monsoon climate, rainfall in Gyantse is more frequent than other places in May. Therefore, tourists had better prepare raincoats before they head for Gyantse.

Gyantse was a transfer county for people from Lhasa to Shigatse. With the development of transportation, people now are able to get to Shigatse from Lhasa directly. Therefore, Gyantse is less populated than it used to be.

However, as an ancient county in Tibet, Gyantse still possesses many tourist attractions which are worth a visit. Topping the list are the Gyantse Fortress, Palcho Monastery, and Pala Manor, all of which are of great importance to the history of the county. Gyantse Fortress is a war site which had played an important role in the battle between the Tibetan people and the British invaders in 1904. Palcho Monastery is the only temple where three major sects of Tibetan Buddhism harmoniously get along with each other. And Pala Manor is the only well-preserved manor of ancient nobility in Tibet, showing two totally different life between the rich nobility and the poor slaves in ancient times.

Palcho Monastery

Palcho Monastery

Shigatse Tibet Climate in May

  • Average Minimum Temperature: 3 ℃ (37.4℉)
  • Average Maximum Temperature: 17 ℃ (62.6℉)
  • Average Precipitation/Rainfall: 15 mm (0.59in)

Shigatse is the second largest city in Tibet, only behind the capital city Lhasa. In Tibetan Language, “Shigatse” means “fertile land”, which can be exactly used to describe the city. Because of the full sunshine and sufficient water supply, the agricultural industry in Shigatse is the most developed in Tibetan region. Therefore, Shigatse is also known as “the granary of Tibet”.

When the amount of tourists to Shigatse is increasing in May, the temperature of the city is also increasing. Average temperature ranges between 6 degrees to 22 degrees. It is cold in the morning and evening, and hot in the afternoon, so tourists can experience four seasons in Shigatse within one day. It barely rains during the period, with more than 27 days are sunny. But once it rains, the rainfall can be heavy. Therefore, tourists need to make full preparation for the changeable weather of Shigatse in May.

There is a huge temperature difference in the daytime in Shigatse. Sometimes it can be so cold that you need to wear a thick down coat to keep warm, but sometimes it can also be so hot that you can wear short sleeves. Generally speaking, we suggest that you wear knitwear plus a light down coat when you go to Shigatse in May, so that you won’t feel cold in the morning or at nights. And you can take off the coat outside when you feel hot at noon.

EBC Tibet Climate in May

  • Average Minimum Temperature: -1℃ (30.2℉)
  • Average Maximum Temperature: 15℃ (59℉)
  • Average Precipitation/Rainfall: 7mm (0.28in)

May is one of the most favorable time thourgout the year to go to EBC for the stunning view of Mt. Everest. Temperature during this period are proper for trekking. The weather is mostly sunny and dry, so there is no need to worry about the rainfall. Besides, the tent guesthouses where tourists can accommodate are open to the public again in May, so a tour to EBC during this period can be enjoyable.

The banner-shape clouds are marvelous spectacles of Mt. Everest. Most of the time, the clouds look like a banner fluttering in the wind. However, the shapes of the clouds are not always the same. Sometimes they look like waves roaring in the sea. Sometime they are just like horses galloping on the battle field in ancient times. Different people have different opinions when they see the clouds, the answers are open. It is all up to people’s imagination.

Mount Everest

Mount Everest

You still need to wear winter clothes such as down coats, fleece jackets and turtlenecks when you go to EBC in May. As the weather is getting warm, you can stay for a longer time to do outdoor activities in EBC during this period. If you wear too much clothes, you may feel hot after you walk a little while there. Therefore, knitted sweater plus a down coat should be a better choice for a trip to EBC in May.

Mt. Kailash Tibet Climate in May

  • Average Minimum Temperature: 1℃ (33.8℉)
  • Average Maximum Temperature: 15℃ (59℉)
  • Average Precipitation/Rainfall: 11mm (0.43in)

Mt. Kailash is universally acknowledged as a holy mountain in the world. Though different in belief, disciples of different religions have recognized the mountain as the center of the world. It is a mysterious mountain which is totally different from other mountains. For a normal mountain, there is no snow on the side which faces the sun and there is always snow on the other side. However, things are just the opposite in Mt. Kailash: there is always snow on the side which faces the sun and there is no snow on the other side. Even when the latter side is covered with snow, it will melt quickly when the sun comes out.

Although Mt. Kailash has always been a holy place for pilgrims and explorers, nobody has ever climbed the mountain, because it is the only mountain in China where mountain climbing is forbidden. So people can only walk around the mountain for pilgrimages, and such activity is called “kora” in Tibetan language. Walking around the mountain for one circle takes 2 to 3 days, covering a total length of around 55 km. May is one of the perfect time for kora in Mt. Kailash, as the weather is getting warmer and there is little rainfall during this period. So the amount of pilgrims to Mt. Kailash begins to increase in May.

Mount Kailash

Dolma La Pass on the Mount Kailash

You need to wear thick winter clothes when you go to Mt. Kailash in May. Although you may get hot during the trekking journey, the places for accommodation along the way are located at high altitudes and the temperature will be pretty low at nights. Therefore, we suggest that you prepare more coldness-proof equipment for a trip to Mt. Kailash in May. Your shoes and trousers should be waterproof, because the road to Mt. Kailash may still be covered with snow during this period.

Lhasa to Kathmandu via Overland in May

  • Kathmandu Average Minimum Temperature: 16℃ (60.8℉)
  • Kathmandu Average Maximum Temperature: 28℃ (82.4℉)
  • Kathmandu Average Precipitation/Rainfall: 114mm (4.49in)
  • Gyirong Port Average Minimum Temperature: 4℃ (39.2℉)
  • Gyirong Port Average Maximum Temperature: 12℃ (53.2℉)

A trip from Lhasa to Kathmandu in May is very popular among visitors, as a stay in Kathmandu during this period is comfortable. The weather in the city is warmer than Lhasa, with maximum temperature being as high as 28 degrees during the daytime, and even the temperature at nights is above 4 degree. However, tourists are more likely to get to the Nepali capital on a rainy day, because the city has already entered into rainy season, and average rainfall during this period is up to 114 mm.

Taking 7 to 8 days’ driving, the road trip from Lhasa to Kathmandu (and vice versa) is believed to be one of the most attractive and surprising adventures while travelling on the plateau. 8 out of the world’s 10 highest mountains are situated on the border between China and Nepal, and tourists are able to see at least 5 of them while driving along the Friendship Highway. What’s more, tourists can see landscapes of different kinds along the way as well, including the snow-covered mountains, vast grasslands, desert lands, and countless rivers and lakes in various sizes.

Major route from Lhasa to Kathmandu is called “the west line” (Lhasa - Gyantse - Shigatse - Lazi - G219 - Gyirong Port - Nepal). While driving along the way, tourists can make a short visit to the Rongbuk Monastery, the highest Tibetan Buddhist monastery in the world. Due to the 2015 Nepal earthquake, Zhangmu Port is now only available for freights. So the east line (Lhasa - Shigaze - Lazi-Dingri - Nyalamu County - Zhangmu Port - Friendship Bridge-Kathmandu) will not be chosen in a short term.

Gyirong Port is the last stop in China on the journey from Lhasa to Kathmandu. Tourists need to go through exit formalities before crossing the Resuo Bridge. Once getting into Nepal, tourists have to apply for their visas in the authority agency of the country. After that, they may begin their trip in Nepal by enjoying the lush and spectacular valleys and forests along the way from the border to Kathmandu. Tourists can get transfer service from Gyirong Port to Kathmandu offered by our company, and the fee is 60 USD/person.

Gyirong Port

Gyirong Port

Tips: For visitors who want to travel from Kathmandu to Lhasa via overland, they will have to apply for both the Tibet Permit and China Group Visa in Kathmandu. With the help of our staff, visitors can get their documents done quickly. One thing to remember is that visitors have to apply for the visa at the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu at least 3 days before their tour starts, as it will take 3 working days to finish the process. If possible, tourists are suggested to arrive to Kathmandu 5 days in advance to the day leaving for Tibet. So that they can have enough time to deal with their documents. After handing in the passports, out travel consultants will help you get all the details done.

Tibetan Festivals in May

Although May is a perfect time to visit Tibet, there are only a few festivals during this period. The first one is called the Saga Dawa Festival, which is one of the four greatest Tibetan Buddhist festivals commemorating four events in the life of Sakyamuni, together with Losar Festival, Lhabab Duchen Festival, and Chokor Duchen Festival. It falls on the 15th day of the fourth month of Tibetan lunar calendar.

It is a festival which is believed to be an auspicious day for good deeds, as people believe that the effects of good actions can be multiplied ten million times on this day. And the effects of bad actions during the festival will also be multiplied ten million times. Therefore, people will seize all of the chances to help people when the festival comes. For example, people won’t reject the requests from baggers and monks. Therefore, Saga Dawa Festival is also called “the festival of poor people”.

Another festival is called the Chawalong Horse Racing Festival, which is held in Chayu County of Nyingchi Prefecture on February 15th of Tibetan lunar calendar. Chawalong is the name of a remote village in Nyingchi. The village is lack of resources, and there are only four small gravel roads linking the village to the outside world. Horses have played important role in the daily life of the villagers. They ride the horses to get to places where cars and other vehicles are inaccessible. So it is understandable why the Horse Racing Festival is held in the village. Tourists can not only watch the exciting horse racing during the festival, but can also take part in other activities and games. One thing needs to be noticed is that there is no electricity and signals in the village, so tourists can prepare electric torches in advance if they want to go to the village to celebrate the festival.

Recommended Packages for a Tibet Tour in May

The most significant things that visitors must not forget to bring with them before getting to Tibet include passport, Tibet Travel Permit as well as Chinese Visa. In this warm season, thick and heavy coats and jackets are not that necessary for a tour in Tibet. However, if Mt. Everest and Mt. Kailash are on your tour list, you should still prepare one sweater or two to against the coldness there. Besides, a pair of good shoes can also be useful, because the grounds are mostly rough and rocky. But the boots don’t need to be very thick, as it is not that cold during this period. May is the beginning of rainy season in Tibet, although it doesn’t rain heavily, raincoats are still necessary during this period.

Sunshine in Tibet are always strong throughout the year. If you don’t want to get a great tan during the trip in Tibet, do bring sunglasses and sun protection equipment such as sun hats and High SPF sunscreen. Besides, skin cream, hand cream and lip balm are also necessary to against the dry weather during this period.

Travelling in Tibet is an activity that requires much energy. Tourists can prepare some high-energy snacks in case their energy should be consumed. In addition, as the scenery in Tibet during this period is so beautiful that you should prepare as many as batteries for your cameras. For trekkers and mountain climbers, hiking poles and a good backpack can be useful. They don’t need to carry all the packages on their back the whole day. Instead, they can hire a yak and put all the things on it, so that they can save more energy for other activities.

Tibet is located on the world’s highest plateau, so people are more likely to get altitude sickness when they arrive in Tibet. And one interesting thing is that those who are in better health conditions are more likely to get altitude sickness than normal people. To avoid of such situation, visitors had better take Rhodiola 7 to 15 days in advance before they get to Tibet. Medicine like Rhodiola Compound Capsule and Gaoyuan’an that can relieve the symptoms of altitude sickness should also be prepared.

Traveling to Tibet in May Is a Sensible Choice

May is a special time when tourists are able to see both the spring scenery and autumn scenery of Tibet. Although it is also the beginning of the peak season of Tibet tourism, the amount of tourists during this period is much less than that of the following months. Therefore, for those who don’t want a crowded place for travelling in May, Tibet is a wonderful choice. What’s more, tourists are also able to see those attractions which are blocked by heavy snows if they go there during this period. With all the roads and trails to the mountains being open to the public again, the month becomes a perfect time for adventurers to take exciting journey in Tibet.

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