Traveling during holidays in Tibet

When planning your visit to Tibet, you might be curious if it’s worth visiting during one of the holiday seasons.

In this article, let’s discuss what holidays are celebrated in Tibet and the best time to visit if you wish to see festive activities.

TRAVELING DURING WESTERN CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR

Yamdrok lake surrounded by snowy mountains
Yamdrok Lake with snow-capped mountains in the background

Since many travelers have vacation during the winter holiday season, we often receive questions if it is a good time to visit Tibet.

While there are no special activities during that time in Tibet, it might still be a good time to travel.

Why visit Tibet during Christmas and New Year time:

  • The weather in Tibet is typically very dry during December and January. The sky is almost always deep blue with strong sunshine and little clouds. It makes winter one of the best times for taking stunning high-contrast photographs. 
  • There are very few tourists and you will explore popular places without crowds and will be able to spend more time exploring them.
  • Tibetans from remote areas visit Lhasa in winter to prepare for the Tibetan New Year. They visit religious sites for pilgrimage and Lhasa markets to buy traditional goods, making winter a great time to see traditional ways of life.
  • Despite the common beliefs, it is not very cold in winter, especially in Lhasa. The average Lhasa temperature in December and January is -7 °C / 19 °F at night and +9 °C / 48 °F during daytime.
  • There is nothing like starting the new year in a new and exciting place and making your New Year’s resolutions that will inspire you for the entire next year.

THE BEST AREAS TO VISIT DURING NEW YEAR AND CHRISTMAS

UNESCO World Heritage site Potala Palace in Lhasa

LHASA AND SURROUNDING AREAS

The capital of Tibet is the most popular choice when traveling in winter. The weather in Lhasa remains pleasant during the daytime, and you will enjoy stunning views with plenty of sunshine.
At the same time, there are very few tourists and you can explore even the most popular sites without crowds. You will also take advantage of lower hotel prices. Finally, you will see the typical life of Tibetans as more Tibetans flock to Lhasa in winter in preparation for Tibetan New Year.

Tour to Everest base camp from Lhasa in Tibet

EVEREST BASE CAMP

While temperatures drop significantly in the Everest region in winter, many travelers like visiting during the driest time of the year when the chances of rain or clouds are very low. On most days you can see the clear view of the peak framed by the intense deep blue sky.

With very few tourists in winter, you might even have this stunning view all for yourself.

VISITING DURING CHINESE NEW YEAR

Both Chinese and Tibetan New Years are celebrated based on the Lunar calendar, but they often fall on different dates. If you are planning to visit during the Chinese New Year, you need to plan your trip in advance. Since everyone in China has winter vacation at the same time, it is very hard to book plane and train tickets.
There are no large celebrations of Chinese New Year in Tibet and you can travel as always.

TRAVELING DURING TIBETAN NEW YEAR

Tibetan New Year in 2024 will be on February 10

Tibetan celebrating Losar Tibetan New Year
Tibetan celebrating Losar Tibetan New Year

Tibetan New Year – Losar is celebrated according to the Lunar calendar and the dates are different every year, usually in January or February. You can check our festival calendar to see the dates for upcoming years. 

Tibetan New Year is undoubtedly the most anticipated holiday of the year for Tibetans of all ages. They start planning and preparing for it sometimes months in advance and take time to celebrate it with friends and family for days and in some cases even weeks. 

For Tibetans, New Year is a time that they spend with family and friends. Many Tibetans won’t even leave their home on the first day, spending the entire day only with their closest family members. Tibetans clean and decorate their homes, cook special dishes to enjoy during the New Year, and make preparations for the entire year. 

TIBETAN NEW YEAR CELEBRATIONS

On the first day, many Tibetans visit Jokhang Temple and Potala Palace – the two most important Buddhist sites in Lhasa. The rest of the first day many Tibetans spend at home, celebrating with their family. In the following days, Tibetans visit monasteries and temples to make offerings and burn incense. At the beginning of the New Year, Tibetans help to replace prayer flags on the high poles in front of the Jokhang temple. Tibetans will also hang new prayer plays on the rooftops of their houses and buildings. 

VISITING DURING TIBETAN NEW YEAR

Celebration of Full Moon day in Jokhang Temple
Jokhang Temple in Lhasa

If you visit during the New Year, you can see Tibetans visiting temples and making offerings, and experience the festive cheer. It is a good time to see many locals wearing their best traditional clothes and be a part of the beloved celebration.

However, many Tibetans celebrate New Year at home with family. Most Tibetan businesses are closed during the first few days of the New Year, there are very few restaurants that you will find open, and many Tibetans, including guides and drivers, won’t work during that time. That’s why, depending on your interests, Tibetan New Year might not be the best time to travel to Tibet.

If you want to experience festival celebrations in Tibet, it is better to visit during one of the large festivals. 

LARGE TIBETAN CELEBRATIONS AND FESTIVALS

Tibetan monks wearing yellow hats during Cham Dance performance

Tibetans celebrate several important holidays throughout the year. The most popular festivals in Tibet are religious. All of them are celebrated according to the Lunar calendar and dates change every year. 

Tibetan pilgrim on Saga Dawa Festival at Mount Kailash

SAGA DAWA FESTIVAL

One of the most important festivals of the year for all Buddhists, celebrating the birth, enlightenment, and parinirvana of Buddha.

The main celebration takes place in the Kailash region, where pilgrims gather to replace the large prayer pole. Visiting during Saga Dawa celebration allows you to see many Tibetans dressed in their best traditional clothes and join the festivities.

Shoton Festival Thangka Display in Sera Monastery, Lhasa

SHOTON FESTIVAL

Shoton is the largest festival in Lhasa. The festival celebrates the end of an extensive meditation period for monks in summer when local Tibetans offer freshly made yogurt to them. In return, Sera and Drepung monasteries display large embroidered thangkas to give blessings to all visitors.
From the moment when monks carry the huge rolled thangka, to the careful unrolling moment, you will enjoy the grandeur of the celebration.

Buddhist Cham Dance in Samye monastery, Tibet

CHAM DANCE

One of the most spectacular activities in Tibet is the special dance performed by masked monks. The dance is a form of offering, and only monks and lamas can perform it.

Monks perform Cham dance during religious festivals.
You can see Cham Dance in Tsurphu, Samye, Drigun Til, Tashi Lhunpo, Sakya, and Rongbuk monasteries.

MORE INFORMATION TO PREPARE FOR TIBET VISIT

POPULAR GROUP TOURS IN TIBET

Trekking towards Everest North Face in Tibet

8 DAYS LHASA TO EVEREST TOUR

A beautiful and exciting journey, starting in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, and going to the Everest Base Camp. The tour visits Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Sera, Drepung, and Tashilhunpo monasteries, Kumbum Stupa, Yamdrok Lake, and Karola glaciers.

Both group and private tours are available.

Stupas of The Dira Puk Monastery by the Kailash Mountain in Tibet

15 DAYS MOUNT KAILASH PILGRIMAGE TOUR

One of our most popular group tours starts in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, and goes to Mount Kailash for a three-day trek around this sacred mountain. During this tour, we visit Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Yamdrok Lake, Gyantse monastery and Kumbum stupa, Mount Everest, Lake Manasarovar, Mount Kailash, and much more.

Boudhanath stupa in Kathmandu, Nepal

7 DAYS LHASA TO KATHMANDU TOUR

This tour starts in Lhasa. We will stay there for 2 days to explore the capital and acclimatize. After that, we will head to the center of attraction in the Himalayas – Mount Everest. We will spend a night by the highest mountain on the planet and continue driving through majestic mountain ranges, alongside rivers and waterfalls to the border between Tibet and Nepal.

why Travel With us?

  • Affordable group tour rates and regular departures
  • Always local Tibetan guides and authentic experience
  • Excellent reviews from our clients
  • Absolutely no forced shopping
  • Support local Tibetan businesses

CONTACT US FOR MORE DETAILS

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