Bounded by the mighty Himalayas that run south to west, and the Tanggula mountain range in the centre and north of the country, Tibet is largely shielded from extremes of weather. The climate is generally similar to that of mainland China, though the plateau is so large that there can be substantial differences in conditions between Lhasa in the south east, for instance, and the alpine landscapes of the northern regions. Another factor is the immense fluctuations in altitude between destinations. Day and night-time temperatures in the same place tend to vary significantly.
Lhasa, the capital, has a well-earned reputation as ‘the sunlit city’, enjoying over 3,000 hours of sunlight annually. That makes it the perfect place to spend a few days acclimatising on arrival before exploring further afield. Even here though, the air is moisture-free and very thin, at an altitude of more than 3,600 metres above sea level.
Tibet is blessed with myriad spiritual landmarks and ancient religious sites that are at their busiest during the peak season between June and October. Those who brave the winter weather are rewarded with a more peaceful ambience and authentic experience.
Trekking in Tibet is most popular during the spring and autumn, when the scenery is painted with brushstrokes of vivid colours, and the skies are brilliantly clear. Summer has a modest rainy season that makes the going more difficult, and frequently obscures the views. The awe-inspiring Mount Everest is best seen between April and June, or September and December.