January has the lowest temperature of a year in Tibet. But it is still very sunny every day, it is not that cold as you imagine. Since most cities of China have begun to prepare for the arrival of the Lunar New Year, so most domestic travelers will not choose to travel to Tibet in January. Most nomads already got back to the cities, so in January you will see more pilgrims on the streets. Hotels and flights usually have good discounts in January. With less tourists, more locals, lower cost, it is a pleasant time visiting Tibet in January.
How is the Weather in Tibet in January?
Tibet in January has sunny and dry weather with low temperature. Temperature drops down a lot from day to night. The temperature during the day is between 0-15 degrees, and at night it can drop to minus 15 degrees, and the temperature difference can be more than 20 degrees. Therefore, it is recommended to travel in the daytime in January and to reduce outdoor activities in early morning, evening and night to avoid catching a cold.
Located on the plateau with an average altitude over 4000m, Tibet rarely sees rain and snow in January. It is also very windy especially when you cross the pass of the mountain in January. Fierce wind brings lower temperature and you can easily suffer from a headache or dizzy in the wind that a woolen cap is always suggested to take along. You can still enjoy a lot of sunshine during this time. So even if you are coming in the winter of January, anti-sunburn is always one of the main concerns traveling in Tibet. In addition, it is also important to drink plenty of water and moisturize the skin in the dry season of January.
Overall Tibet Weather in January
|Average Minimum Temperature
|Average Maximum Temperature
|Wet Days (>0.1mm)
Where to Go in Tibet in January?
It is common to think that Tibet is freezing cold in winter season, however it is not that cold as people imagine. Tibet has warmer daytime than many domestic cities in mainland China. Only that it has huge temperature difference between day and night. So, for travelling to Tibet in January we suggest larger cities such as Nyingchi, Lhasa & Shigatse, which offer better accommodation facility with heating system and lower altitude. While in the mountain areas, lower temperature can easily bring snow, and it can block the roads. For this reason, Namtso Lake & Mt. Kailash area are not recommended travelling in January.
Known as the city of sunlight, which offers daily sunshine over 8 hours and even in the cold winter of January, Lhasa has about 10 hours’ sunshine a day. So in the daytime, it can reach pleasant cozy 15 ℃ in the sun but at night it can reach to - 10 ℃. Sun hat, sunglasses and sun cream are essential for visiting Lhasa in January. Try to dress in layers as possible for the huge temperature difference from day till night. Generally, T-shirt, sweater and jacket is fine in the daytime and in the evening you need warmer clothes such as warm underwear, down jacket, woolen scarf and gloves etc.
With less tourists, more local people, lower price of hotel accommodation and tickets, and pleasant weather, there are many places you should never miss in Lhasa such as: Potala Palace: the huge ancient palace, which is the world-famous landmark of Lhasa. It used to be a place for Dalai Lamas to work and stay. Now it is a place that everyone adores.
Jokhang Temple in January
Jokhang Temple and Barkhor Street: the spiritual center of Lhasa, thousands of pilgrims are doing the koras, devoted Buddhists shuffle up and down along the Barkhor which is the ancient street every day. There are also many stores, restaurants, hotels etc. around. This might be the first place when you start your visit in Lhasa. You can also buy some small souvenirs such as handicrafts, artworks, Tibetan carpets, clothes, gold and silver jewelry, etc. in the street.
Ganden Monastery: taking around 1.5 hours' drive from Lhasa, you will reach this holy site. Ganden monastery is the main temple or Gelugpa order founded in 1409. It has unique and beautiful chapels and offers the fascinating views of the Kyichu valley when doing the koras around the Ganden monastery.
Generally, it has fewer travelers and more nomads in the city of Lhasa in January. Visiting temple and doing the koras as the pilgrims, seating to have a cup of sweet tea and enjoy the sunshine of Lhasa like locals, you can enjoy a leisure trip in Lhasa in January. At the same time, Lhasa in winter is also very suitable for bird watching, many migratory birds will fly to Lhasa to overwinter. For bird lovers, January is the perfect time to go to Lhasa.
As the second largest city of Tibet, Shigatse has similar temperature as Lhasa in January. It is relatively cold in the morning and evening and warm in the daytime in the sun. Shigatse is also the main transit city for many tourists to Everest Base Camp. You can stay overnight in Shigatse and then go to the Everest Base Camp the next day to enjoy views of the Mount Everest.
As you are crossing some passes in the mountains, keeping warm become very important as the wind can be stronger in the mountains and near the lakes. Therefore, it is recommended to choose windproof fabrics and wear thermal underwear. Scarf and gloves are always suggested. Try to wear warmer especially when you get off the vehicle.
Tashilhunpo Monastery, the traditional seat of Pancham Lamas
In January, tourists can enjoy a cultural trip in Shigatse to explore the important temples and monasteries there. Palcho Monastery is famous for its Kumbum, the 32 meters high chorten with white layers trimmed with stripes, which took around 10 years to build and symbolize the highest artistic workmanship during that time. Palcho Monastery was once a compound of 15 monasteries that brough together three different orders of Tibetan Buddhism: Gelugpa, Sakyapa and Shalupa. It is very rare in Tibet. With fewer visitors in January, it is very pleasant to slower down your pace to enjoy more about the ancient city.
Tashilhunpo Monastery: As the main seat of the Panchen Lama, Tashilhunpo Monastery is always a popular destination at Shigatse. It is also the largest monastery at Shigatse with the history over five centuries. More nomads and pilgrims are visiting the monastery in January and you can encounter many of them doing the kora around the monastery. You can also follow them for the Tashilhunpo kora, which takes 1-2 hours with the panorama of the city at the highest point.
Mount Everest Base Camp
Although the weather is cold in the mountains, you can still travel to Mount Everest Base Camp in January. Lower temperature means less tourists and it also offers you the clear full views of the Everest for nearly 25 days in a month. This really makes it an excellent season to go the Everest Base Camp in January while in the summertime, you only have half or even less chance to see the real face of the Everest.
Paying a visit to Everest Base Camp in January
Same as other areas in Tibet, temperature drops down a lot from daytime till night at the Everest Base Camp in January. During the day is between minus 15 degrees and 5 degrees, and the night temperature is lower than minus 10 degrees. Therefore, some tourists who go to Everest Base Camp in winter will choose to stay in Tingri County, 100 kilometers away from Mount Everest Base Camp, and then choose to visit Everest in the sun to avoid the coldness of Mount Everest Camp. But more would still like to stay overnight at the Rongbuk guesthouse to catch the sunset and sunrise at the Mount Everest.
Since it is very windy with low temperature, travelling to the Everest Base Camp in January need warm clothes such as thermal underwear, warm sweaters, thick down jackets etc. In addition, warm hats, scarves, and gloves are also recommended equipment for Everest tour. It is always suggested to wear a little more at the Everest Base Camp and minimize the time for outdoor activities as possible.
Tibetan Festivals to Experience in January
Taking part in Tibet festivals is a good way to know Tibet religions and customs better. It is one of the best ways to have authentic Tibet travel experience.
Shigatse New Year/Tsang Losar
One of the most important festival in Tibet, Tibetans in Shigatse will celebrate the New Year at the first of 12th lunar month, which is one month before most areas of Tibet. Visiting friends and families, cham dances at Tashilhunpo Monastery to dispel the evil of the old year and usher the new one, it is the time for family reunion. Some restaurants and hotels will be closed in January, but it’s livelier to stroll around the bustling local market and join in the ceremonies with the locals.
Locals gathered together to celebrate Shigatse New Year.
What to Pack for Visiting Tibet in January?
Keeping warm becomes the main concern travelling in Tibet in January other than the high altitude. Warm jacket, fiberfill or down should be adequate. Warm trousers, cotton pants, woolen hat and sun hat with wide brim to cover the face and neck, woolen socks, Thermal and cotton underwear, gloves, sunglasses, sun cream for sunburnt protection, medical tablets for stomach problem, coldness and some vitamin tablets could give you some ideas at your packing list traveling in Tibet in January.
Fewer tourists, no queues, more nomads and pilgrims, lower budget, all these make January in Tibet is quite attractive. If you prefer a journey of discovery, retreats from the noisy city, coming to Tibet in January. For more information and problems about visiting Tibet, please feel free to contact us.