What is the Weather Like in Tibet in August?
The weather of Tibet is a typical sub-tropical plateau climate with both wet and dry seasons. In Tibet, monsoon runs from June to September, and in many places on the plateau, August is the wettest month of the year. However, with the high Himalayas bordering the region, even the monsoon season is not very wet. This is mainly due to the “shadow effect” where the mountains cause the clouds to dispel the rain as they move over the peaks, leaving very little precipitation left for the northern sides of the mountains.
Most of Tibet is made up of permafrost, high-altitude tundra, and desert steppe, with only the southeastern region of Tibet experiencing warmer weather. While the majority of the rains fall on the southern sides of the mountains, Tibet does get some rain in the monsoon season, which mostly falls in the late afternoon and evening or later at night. And while August is normally the wettest month in majority of the region, it is often not the hottest.
However, due to the summer holiday, August is one of the hottest tourist seasons in Tibet. If you plan to take a Tibet tour in August, here are the useful weather information for your reference.
Weather and Temperature of Lhasa in August
In Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, the weather in August is warm and comfortable with plenty of rain. The wettest month of the year in the capital, around 125 millimeters of rain falls within the month, though there are plenty of dry days as well. Rain normally falls at night in the area around Lhasa, and it can sometimes make it a little difficult to travel to certain places due to mudslides blocking roads.
Temperatures in Lhasa in August are warm throughout August, with daytime temperatures reaching to around 22 degrees, and at an altitude of 3,656 meters above sea level, this can feel a lot hotter than it really is. There is a large differential in temperatures between night and day, and the temperature at night can drop to around 8-10 degrees, making a warm sweater a necessity.
As with most of the high-altitude plateau, the thinner air means higher UV radiation, making the sun’s rays feel much stronger. And while sun cream is good to protect against UVB radiation, a good hat and arm coverings are needed to protect the skin from the more dangerous UVB rays. At the higher altitudes of Lhasa, Shigatse, and Mount Everest, this is more important than at the lower elevations in the east of the plateau.
Weather and Temperature of Everest Base Camp in August
At an elevation of 8,848 meters, Mount Everest is the highest mountain on the planet, and lies in the far west of Tibet, on the border with Nepal. With this extreme altitude, the higher slopes of the mountain are covered with snow all year round, though lower down, at the famous Everest Base Camp (EBC), the climate is very different. At 5,200 meters above sea level, the base camp is a delightful place to visit in August, though you may be disappointed at the views available.
Even at the high elevation of EBC, the monsoon season has its effects, and one of them is to cover the peak of the mountain in rain-clouds for much of the month of August. While it is possible that there may be sunny days when the summit is not obscured, it is a hit-or-miss thing trying to know when that would be, and with the changeable weather around this massive mountain, traveling to EBC in August is not recommended.
August can be a little wet at EBC, and it is very humid in the area, though the days can be warm. Daytime temperatures at the base camp can reach around 17-18 degrees on average, and at night the temperatures can still drop to around 2 degrees, making it very cold at night for those camping at EBC. Warm clothing is a necessity, as is a good tent and even an arctic-rated sleeping bag.
Weather and Temperature of Mount Kailash (Ngari) in August
In the west of Tibet lies one of the most sacred mountains in Asia, Mount Kailash. Lying in the Ngari region of northwest Tibet, Mount Kailash is the holy center of the universe for four religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Bon. A popular place to visit for many people, it is often not advisable to do so in August, as this is the middle of the rainy season. The weather around Mount Kailash is notoriously hard to predict, and even in the summer months can become changeable in the extreme.
Ngari is one of the higher elevation areas of the plateau, and the general climate is dry and arid for most of the year, with a short monsoon season covering July and August. While the climate around Kailash may be generally mild and temperate, with many warm days in August, the rainfall is significant, with over 125 millimeters of precipitation throughout the month. This makes the kora route around the mountain harder, and much more dangerous sue to the rain and mud.
Temperature-wise, the area of Mount Kailash can average around 30 degrees in August, although this is not the hottest month of the year. Highs can get up to around 13 degrees during the day, with nighttime temperatures getting as low as 2-3 degrees at their lowest. UV radiation is also extremely high in the area around Mount Kailash, and a good sun cream with an SPF of around 50 is required, as well as head protection and coverings for the arms and legs.
Weather and Temperature of Lake Namtso in August
Known as the “Heavenly Lake”, Lake Namtso is one of the Great Three holy lakes of Tibet, and one of the most popular tourist attractions in the region. Set in some of the most beautiful countryside in the region, the pure blue waters of Lake Namtso shimmer in the August sunlight. At an elevation of around 4,718 meters, the atmosphere of Namtso is thinner than in Lhasa, 250 kilometers to the south, which makes the sun’s rays even stronger.
The weather around Lake Namtso is very different from most of the rest of Tibet, and the lake is surrounded by snow-covered mountains all year round. A relatively harsh climate exists here on the edge of Nagqu Prefecture, where the lake lies, and the temperature differential from day to night is much larger than in Lhasa. Rainfall in the area is comparable with that of Lhasa, though, and while it is not too wet to travel, a good waterproof jacket is essential packing for Lake Namtso in August.
Temperatures in August can reach an average of around 22 degrees, and have been known to get as high as 26 degrees in the bright, unfiltered sunlight. However, as night covers the lake, the temperature drops to around just two degrees, and thick jackets are needed as well as the usual waterproof jackets.
Weather and Temperature of Nyingchi in August
The eastern-most prefecture of Tibet, and the lowest in elevation, averaging around 3,000 meters above sea level, though some areas can be as high as 4,700 meters and as low as 800 meters. Nyingchi is one of the warmest of all places in Tibet, and as such is a very popular tourist destination throughout the year. However, Nyingchi also has the most complex weather system on the planet, with the variations in altitude giving rise to a stepped climate variation from almost tropical at the lower elevations to high alpine climates near the peaks.
With over 650 millimeters of rainfall each year, the bulk of this falls in July and August, making the area wetter and more humid than anywhere else on the plateau. August averages around 135 millimeters of rainfall in the month, although the rains normally fall in the late evening and overnight, rarely affecting a tour of the area. However, while there may be a lot of rain, it falls like a gentle gardener carefully watering his plants, and the torrential and hard rains of other areas are never seen in the region.
Temperatures in Nyingchi in August range from highs of around 22-23 degrees during the day to lows of around 10 degrees at night. With a much more balmy nighttime temperature and climate, August is a comfortable month to visit, although there may be a few problems in some areas with travel, as many of the smaller roads to the popular tourist spots can get bogged down with mud.
What to See When Visit Tibet in August
August is a great time to visit the plateau for festivals, and there are many that are held across the region throughout the month. The most popular of these is the famous Shoton Festival, which is held in the first week of August every year. Based on the ancient rituals of giving milk curds to the monks after their 100-day fasting as a sign of appreciation for their sacrifices, the Shoton Festival has evolved into a celebration of Yogurt, with many fun and lively activities going on during the festivities.
In Nagqu, in the northeast of Tibet, the famed Horse Racing Festival takes place from August 1, lasting for up to fifteen days. The festival is one of the most important festivals in Tibet, and people come from all across the region, dressed in their finest clothes, to attend. The celebrations include horse races of many different types, as well as shows of horsemanship and archery contests.
The Ongkor festival, held in either August or September each year for up to 3 days, is a celebration that goes back over 1,500 years, and is most popular in the farming communities of Tibet. Held to express their thanks to the gods for their good harvest, the celebrations include groups of representatives from each farm or village performing a sacred kora around the fields while chanting and burning mulberry branches. Most popular in the prefectures of Lhasa, Shannan, and Shigatse, it is normally held a few days before the annual harvest starts, and can last for up to three days.
Travel Tips for Visiting Tibet in August
Tibet is considered to be a major tourist destination for many of the Chinese people, and the summer months, especially in August, are very popular times for them to visit. It is also the peak season for international tourism to Tibet, as this is the time of many western people taking their annual holidays. Crowds are likely to be heavy across most of the region throughout the month, so if lots of people is not really your idea of a good tour, then avoiding the summer months is essential.
Since August is one of the peak seasons in Tibet, it is suggested to arrange your Tibet tour as early as possible. If you plan to take the train to Tibet during this month, you need to book Tibet train tickets as early as possible for it is really hard to get a train ticket to Tibet during the summer holiday.
While August may be one of the warmer months, it is best to pack for colder weather as well, to counter the huge temperature drop at night across the region. T-shirts and pants can be worn throughout most of the days, and you should carry a good waterproof jacket in case it rains while you are out, and have some warmer clothes to hand once it cools down in the evening. Good boots are necessary, as it can get muddy, but bring hat and sunglasses as well to protect against the increased UV radiation.
Generally, the oxygen levels on the plateau are lower at the higher altitudes, and altitude sickness is a risk all of the time. However, in certain parts of the plateau, such as Lhasa, the oxygen content is higher in August, though this has little effect on the risk of altitude sickness. You should be prepared with knowledge of the symptoms, and let your guide know if you are feeling sick, dizzy, headaches, or generally weak and tired.