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When is the Best Time to Travel to China and Tibet?

Last Update: July 2, 2020

One of the most common combined trips with a tour of Tibet is a trip to some of the outstanding cities in mainland China. With many of the tourists traveling to Tibet entering from mainland China, it is common to spend a couple of days touring around the city from which you are entering Tibet, and exploring the amazing sights and attractions of one of the world’s oldest civilizations.

Knowing when to visit mainland China and Tibet together often depends on where you are traveling in China and what you want to see before you leave for Tibet. The best time to travel to China and Tibet depends on your budget, the weather in the part of China you are visiting, and when you are available for travel. As a whole, the best time to travel is when it is most convenient for you, since both China and Tibet can be visited throughout the year.

Weather and Climate of China and Tibet

Tibet has a very different climate to the mainland China. Lying on the high-altitude Qinghai Tibet Plateau, Tibet is in fact a place that can be visited at any time of the year, and is a four-season region with a light monsoon season. China is vast, and has a varying climate, depending on where you are in the country.

Weather Condition of China

The weather in mainland China depends on the region of this vast country you are in. Climates can vary from north to south and east to west, and there is no time of year when you cannot visit somewhere in this huge nation. Climates in China vary a great deal, and are influenced by the latitude, as well as by the monsoon, the winter weather, the heat of summer, and many other factors.

Weather Condition of ChinaChina is a vast country and climates vary a great deal.

Apart from Tibet, China has five general temperature zones: the Cold-Temperate Zone of northern Heilongjiang Province and Inner Mongolia; the Mid-Temperate Zone, which covers northern Xinjiang, most of Heilongjiang, and Liaoning, including Beijing, and as far south as Lanzhou; the Warm-Temperate Zone, which is found in the area of the middle and lower reaches of the Huang He (Yellow River), around Shandong, Shanxi, Shaanxi, and Hebei provinces etc.; the Subtropical Zone, which covers the areas around Shanghai, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Kunming, and Chengdu etc.; and the Tropical Zone, in southern Taiwan, Hainan, Guangdong, and Yunnan etc.

Weather Condition of Tibet

The changing altitudes of Tibet also mean that it has a varying climate, and the weather patterns across the plateau depend on how high you are above sea level. The eastern areas of Tibet, around Nyingchi and Chamdo, are relatively mild, with warmer weather and milder winters. The central area of Lhasa is a little colder throughout the year, with low precipitation in the monsoon season, especially around Lhasa and Shigatse. In the northern areas of Nagqu and Ngari, the weather is harsher and colder in winter, though warm and comfortable in summer. In the south, in Shannan, the weather is relatively cold, and summers are not as warm as in Lhasa and Shigatse, with higher chance of snow and much less rainfall.

Best Time to Travel to China and Tibet Together – April to October

The best time to travel in China and Tibet together is normally from April to the end of October, when the weather is best for both trekking and sightseeing. Both China and Tibet experience relatively decent summers, though the temperature does change depending on where you are traveling. Starting with the spring months, from April to May, the weather is generally dry and mild, with warm days and cooler nights, as it can also be in the autumn months of September and October.

Traveling China and Tibet in summerThe best time to travel to China and Tibet is summer.

Summer in Tibet and China can be pretty hot, especially in the south and central regions of China and the central and eastern regions of Tibet. The south of China can see a little more monsoon rains in the summer, while the plateau region of Tibet, even with the monsoon, does not get as much rain thanks to the shadow effect of the Himalayas.

The peak period for travel from April to October is the best time for touring and sightseeing, and you have a better chance to explore the stunning landscapes and scenery while traveling. There are also more tours that run for both China and Tibet in the main tourism season, which gives you a better choice of tours to take for your money.

However, there are certain periods to avoid when traveling through China in general. The main one is the National Day holiday in October. Normally held in the first week of the month, this is the main holiday period for the whole of the country, and Chinese tourists tend to do their traveling in this week, making it hard to get travel tickets, accommodation, and even tours. The May Day holiday is another one that is advisable to avoid, as it is another time for vacation in China.

Best Time for Budget Travel to China and Tibet - Winter

If you are planning a trip to China and Tibet in winter, then you are in luck. China is such a vast nation that it has a place for every season, and there is always somewhere that can be visited at any time of the year. In the winter months, the southern and central areas of China are ideal for tourism, and can give you an amazing trip, centered on such historic cities as Xi’an, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Chengdu, and many others. Tibet is also an area that can be easily visited in winter, though there are some areas that you will find you cannot get to, such as the remote Ngari Prefecture.

Traveling China and Tibet in winterWinter is also a good season to visit China and Tibet.

One of the main advantages of a winter trip to China and Tibet is the cost. Winter is the low season for tourism in general across the whole of China, which means that fewer tourists are filling the attractions. Fewer tourists also means cheaper flights, accommodation, and even tours, so it is a great time to travel if you are traveling on a budget.

More Tips to Travel to China and Tibet Together

1. Pay Attention to Temperature Difference of Tibet and China

If you are planning your China-Tibet tour, then you need to think of the weather conditions in the two places you are visiting. Planning a trip to Tibet in winter would mean certain areas of China would be unsuitable. If there are large temperature differences in where you are traveling, then you need to plan your packing more carefully, to provide you with the right clothing for the weather in the areas you are traveling.

2. Prepare the Flight or Trains to Tibet from China in Advance

You should also prepare for the journey to China and then to Tibet well in advance, especially if you are traveling in the peak season. Transport in China in the peak season, as well as in the two main holiday periods of May Day and National Day, can often be heavily booked, and you will need to book your transport months in advance to guarantee a seat on the train or plane.

Book flight or train in advanceYou need to book flight or train to china and Tibet in advance.

3. Apply for the Tibet Travel Permit Ahead of the Time

Your Tibet Travel Permit can take up to 15-20 days to process, and while it is less likely to take that long in the low season, in the peak season, it can really take up to 20 days, due to the sheer volume of applications. Make sure that you book your tour well in advance, to give enough time to process your Tibet Travel Permit application.

4. Contact a Trustworthy Travel Agency to Arrange Your China and Tibet Tour

Arranging a tour of China and Tibet together cannot actually be done on your own. Independent travel is not permitted in Tibet, so you will need to make the arrangements for your Tibet tour with a registered Tibetan tour operator or travel agency in advance. This can be a little complex to arrange your tour of Tibet to coincide with a trip to mainland China, especially if you are not conversant in spoken and written Chinese.

For the tour of Tibet and China combined, it is best to use a trustworthy local tour operator that can handle both together. We have a wide range of both China and Tibet tours that you can choose from to make the most of your trip to the vast Chinese nation, and to make the planning and execution of the trip as easy as possible for you and your fellow travelers.

Our expert travel advisors can help you to decide on all of the aspects of your tour of China and Tibet, help you decide where to go based on years of travel experience, and even help with booking your hotels and travel tickets. This means that you can focus on packing the right clothes (which we can also advise you on for the areas you are visiting), and enjoying your lifetime tour of China and Tibet together.


A trip to China and Tibet together need not be hard to plan and execute these days, as there are plenty of options available for our combined tours, or we can help with customizing a tour to meet your requirements. And while there are certain times of year when it is better to visit for the warmer weather, there is no real “best” time to travel to China and Tibet, unless there is somewhere specific that you want to go that is better to travel in at a certain time of year. Overall, a trip to China and Tibet can be done throughout the year, and with our awesome tours and combined packages, it has never been easier to choose a trip to China and Tibet as your best option for the ultimate vacation.

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