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Weather: In May, expect bright sunshine and dry cool or warm sunny weather across most of Tibet. The monsoon doesn’t start until June. It is one of the best months for long-distance travel and going to the high mountains. Trees start to turn green and flowers bloom at this time.
Most tourists arrive in Lhasa, and Lhasa is one of the lowest elevation valleys that most tourists go to at 3,600 meters or 12,000 feet. It is generally warm and sunny with 8 hours of sunshine a day. The average daily high temperature is 20 °C (68 °F), and the average nightly low temperature is 6 °C (43 °F). In Lhasa and all over Tibet, the high altitude makes it feel warmer, and the UV rays are very intense. Check the Lhasa weather forecast>>
Clothing: Around Lhasa, light winter clothes are still needed, but you could wear T-shirts in the sunshine, but we suggest that you cover up to avoid sunburn. Have a coat and gloves for higher mountains. Sunglasses and sun hats can protect you from the UV light.
Altitude Sickness: The oxygen content of the air in Lhasa is only 2/3 of that at sea level, and it is even lower in most of the rest of Tibet. A health check is advisable before you go because conditions such asthma, high blood pressure, or heart disease are exacerbated in the high altitude. Most visitors get altitude sickness, and it is important to acclimate before exerting yourself in higher altitudes. See Tibet travel health advice
Walk at Namtso Lake (4,718 meters): The weather is suitable for a day trip or overnighter to the high salt lake that is one of the best scenic areas of Tibet. It is one of the highest lakes in the world at an elevation of 15,000 feet. The sunsets are amazing. The accommodations are rudimentary, so check what is available early so you can decide if you wish to stay overnight.
Tsetang (3,100 meters): Tsetang is a large Tibetan town about 190 km southeast of Lhasa and only about an hour away from the main Tibet airport between Lhasa and Tsetang. The popular Samye Monastery is outside of Tsetang. The average daily high temperature is 20 °C (68 °F), and the average nightly low temperature is 5 °C (41 °F). Expect sunny warm weather at this time of year.
May is one of the best months to leave the Lhasa valley and see the southern towns and attractions such as Shigatse, Gyantse, Yamdrok Lake, Mt. Everest and Kathmandu. There is generally dry and sunny weather in the region in May, but heavy rains begin in June that hamper both travel and sightseeing.
Yamdrok Lake (4,500 meters or 14,700 feet): This lake is compared with Namtso Lake for size and beauty. Along with Namtso and Manasarover, it is one of Tibet's great high altitude lakes. It is about two hours outside of Lhasa along the highway and is an excellent place to stop along the way to Shigatse.
Shigatse (3,900 meters): The freezing weather is over in May in this town. The average daily high temperature is 20 °C (68 °F), and the average nightly low temperature is 3 °C (37 °F). It is a good place for both sightseeing and for acclimation for preparing to hike in higher mountains such as Everest. It is Tibet's second largest town, seven hours from Everest.
Mt. Everest Base Camp (5,200 meters): Early May is the best time to visit Mt. Everest. You have a better chance of seeing the mountain clearly. A special hiking permit is needed for an extended hike near Everest Base Camp which we can try to arrange. The government requires that people go as part of a tour, and it is best to go in a private tour for flexibility.
Mt. Kailash and Manasarovar area (4,556 meters): May is one of the best months for hiking. Heavy rains or snow storms start in June that make crossing the rugged roads in the region more difficult. The lake is at the 15,000 feet level, and the highest pass in a walk around is 5,500 meters or 18,200 feet. The Saga Dawa Festival is celebrated there in May or June depending on their lunar calendar.
Along with the better weather, travel is especially busy in the first week of May for the May 1 national holidays. It is best to book your Lhasa hotel rooms and Shigatse hotel rooms and arrange your flight tickets and train tickets in advance. China requires a special Tibet tour visa that we can arrange for you also. Let us help you have a personalized tour for you or your group.
Here are our most popular Tibet itineraries, for your inspiration:
Lhasa to Kathmandu Overland Adventure via EBC: This 1100-km drive is full of stunning views, from countless lakes, rivers, glaciers and traditional temples on the Tibetan highland, to subtropical forests on the Nepalese side.