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Weather: The first month of spring does not feel like it since it is still freezing. Across Tibet, temperatures drop well below freezing at night. However, except for the thin air, the climate feels more pleasant than March in much of northern America and northern Europe since it is sunny and dry, and the high altitude makes it feel warmer. It is good touring weather for Lhasa and other lower elevation cities.
In Lhasa, it is cold, sunny, and dry, and there are relatively few visitors. The maximum high temperature is about 12 °C (54 °F), and the nightly low is about -3 °C (27 °F). There are only 2 days of rain or snow a month for a total of 3 mm of precipitation. The elevation of 3,600 meters or 12,000 feet makes it feel warm when it is sunny. There are about 8 hours of sunshine a day. Lhasa weather and forecast>>
Clothing: Dress in layers with a coat, trousers, and long underwear for the temperature swings and the nightly temperature drop. The UV radiation is intense, so you'll need a sun hat and sunglasses. Many hotels and restaurants don't have central heating, and you might need to wear your coat inside. Heavier winter gear and gloves are needed in higher areas.
Altitude Sickness: Oxygen levels in Tibet are about 30% less than normal. Many health issues are exacerbated, and most people get altitude sickness. Get health advice before going, and acclimate before exertion or traveling higher than Lhasa. Tibet health suggestions>>
Tibet travel: It is a good month for touring the lower elevation areas outside Lhasa along the Friendship Highway to Kathmandu, Shigatse and Gyantze (elevation 4,000 meters). It is also a good time to see Tsetang (3,100 meters) to the east. Travel to the north, to the far west, and to higher altitudes may still be hampered by the weather.
Mt. Everest Base Camp (5,200 meters): March is one of the best months to visit Mt. Everest. It is when many climbing expeditions start their climb before the weather turns snowy in May. The weather is clearer, so you have a chance of seeing it. If you want to hike around Everest Base Camp, we can try to arrange a special hiking permit. See our private tour of Mount Everest>>
Shigatse (3,900 meters): Shigatse is the second largest city, and it is six hours west of Lhasa. The highlights in Shigatse include Tashilhunpo Monastery. In March, the average high temperature is 11 °C (52 °F), and the average nightly low is -5 °C (23 °F). The higher elevation makes it slightly colder than Lhasa.
Tashilhunpo Monastery: This large ancient monastery in Shigatse was founded in 1447. It sits with a rugged grey mountain at the edge of town. Photographers can get beautiful photographs against a blue and white sky. It was a town for 5,000 monks.
The Monlam Festival and the Butter Lamp Festival are the middle and ending festival days of the two week long Tibetan New Year worship. The fourth through eleventh days of their year are the Monlam Festival, and the 15th day of their calendar year is the Butter Lamp Festival on the night of the full moon that ends the religious holidays. These latter holidays sometimes fall in March.
March has comfortable touring weather and low tourist volume, but travel restrictions on foreign tourists are often in effect in March. If you want to go, it is best to go with a reputable tour company as part of a tour. We offer very personalized tours for you or your group for your enjoyment.
If you are planning a Tibet tour, please see our popular Tibet tours below for inspiration: