When is the Best Time of Year to Visit Nepal?

One of the most common questions we get from travelers is "When is the best time of year to visit Nepal?" The standard answer that you’ll find in most guidebooks is that spring and autumn are best for visiting Nepal, since the weather tends to be moderate and stable, with clear skies. However, due to the complex nature of Nepal’s geography and climate there is a lot more to this. An ever increasing number of travelers visit Nepal in winter and summer, and for good reason. With the right information, travel plan and preparation Nepal is a great year-round destination.

Seasonal highlights

  • Winter brings cold weather to the high mountains, but is a great time to visit Nepal due to the crystal clear skies. Treks in the lower Himalayan foothills are perfect in winter, and so are the jungles of Chitwan and Bardia in the south of Nepal.
  • Spring is a popular time to go trekking in Nepal, as the temperatures climb steadily and the weather tends to be stable. The trails get more crowded, and the skies can be a bit hazy at times. Spring has some great festivals, including Holi in March and Nepalese New Year in April.
  • Summer is Monsoon season and brings hot, humid weather, with most trekking areas seeing cloudy skies and rain. Choose a trek in the “rain shadow” of the Himalayas at this time of year, such as Upper Mustang or Nar Phu. The Yarthung Horse Festival takes place in June in Manang.
  • Fall is the most popular trekking season because the weather is usually stable, temperatures are moderate and skies tend to be clear. Since the weather conditions are at their best, the crowds are at their peak as well in Fall. Autumn has the big festivals like Dashain (October) and Tihar (November).

The Weather in Nepal by Season

Before diving into the seasonal weather in Nepal, it’s worth noting that Nepal, despite being a small country (800 km / 500 miles east to west and 150 km / 100 miles north to south, which is approximately the same surface area as England and half that of Oregon), has a wide variety of elevations and climates, ranging from the world’s highest peaks in the north to subtropical jungle in the south.

This means that it’s often not accurate to make generic statements about the weather in Nepal during a certain season, as the regional differences can make temperatures and weather vary tremendously between different regions. For instance, on a given day the temperature in the South of Nepal can be over 30 Celsius / 90 Fahrenheit, while on the same day Everest Base Camp and its surrounding passes are well below freezing.

With that in mind, we’ll dive into the details of Nepal’s seasons with the goal to help you decide when to visit, where to go and how to prepare for each season.

Chart of average rainfall by month in Nepal
Average rainfall by month in Nepal (in mm, source: Worldbank data 1990 - 2012)

 

Winter in Nepal

Winter in Nepal brings cold, dry weather and occasional snow in the mountains. The skies are usually crystal clear, making winter one of the best seasons for unobstructed, crisp views of the 8,000m Himalayan giants. There are fewer people, so you will have most of the views to yourself. Tip: see our list of best winter treks in Nepal.

Winter in Nepal
Trekkers crossing a snowfield

Where to go in Winter

The high mountain areas in Nepal, and the classic treks that include high pass crossings, are usually too cold in winter. The foothills of Nepal, below 4,000 meters / 13,000ft, are great in winter. It gets cold at night, but during the day the temperatures tend to get quite comfortable, especially when you warm up while hiking. Many of the short treks in Nepal are great choices for the winter season, and some local experts believe that winter is in fact the best time of the year to hike the treks in the lower Solu area south of Everest and the shorter treks near Pokhara. The lowlands, including Chitwan and Bardia National Parks have moderate temperatures and are absolutely gorgeous in winter. 

Travel tips for visiting Nepal during winter

  • Bring warm layers and a down jacket. A down sleeping bag is also recommended if you go trekking.
  • Enjoy amazingly clear views and lesser crowds at Nepal’s best viewpoints like Poon Hill and Nagarkot.
  • Activities like mountain biking and touring the country on a motorbike are at their best in winter.
  • Visit Chitwan and Bardia as the temperatures in these otherwise wam places is at their most moderate in winter.
  • Attend the Street Festival in Pokhara at the end of the year which takes place around December 27.

Spring in Nepal

Spring is one of the two main trekking seasons in Nepal (the other trekking season being Autumn) because of its stable weather which creates optimal conditions for the classic treks in Nepal that include high pass crossings. A drawback of spring is that the skies can get hazy at times, obstructing mountain views. The trekking trails are are busy, which means that you’ll encounter travelers from all over the world on the popular trekking routes, which is a positive for some but a downside for those preferring to have the nature to themselves. 

Spring in Nepal
A view from Poon Hill

Where to go in Spring

In spring, the higher mountains that are home to the classic treks in Nepal, offer stable weather. This is a great time to cross high passes like Larkya La (on the Manaslu Circuit Trek), Kongma La (Three Passes Trek), Thorung La (Annapurna Circuit Trek) and trek to the high viewpoints of Nepal such as Khala Pattar and Gokyo Ri in the Everest Region. If you want to avoid the crowds, choose an off the beaten path trek. Kathmandu gets warmer, and its tourist center Thamel becomes a travelers hotspot. Bardia National Park gets very hot, and offers the best chance for tiger sightings.

Travel tips for visiting Nepal during Spring

  • Nepal’s famous Rhododendrons are in full bloom. During early spring they are best in the lower areas around Pokhara. In late Spring they start blooming above Namche in the Everest region.
  • On big treks the temperatures vary widely from lower to higher elevations and between night and day. Bring layers.
  • Try to time your visit during one of the big festivals: Holi (the festival of color in March) and Nepalese New Year (April).
  • To beat the crowds, choose a lesser known trek, or visit in early or late Spring.

Summer in Nepal

Summer is the monsoon season which means the weather is hot and humid, and it tends to rain on most days. Wildflowers are in full bloom, and the foothills are lush. Monsoon usually starts in early June and continues into early September. In summer it’s advisable to have some flexibility in your travel plans as flight delays and cancellations are more common due to cloudy weather. Landslides may occur, causing road and trail closures, and views are often obstructed. Also, leeches can be an annoyance.

Summer in Nepal
Monsoon clouds in the lower Annapurna Region

Where to go in Summer

Treks located in the rain shadow of the Himalayas are best during monsoon, such as Upper Mustang, Nar Phu, Upper Dolpo and Limi Valley. Higher areas in the Everest region are also good. Kathmandu is hot and humid, and the lowlands in the south are even hotter, but if you can withstand the heat they offer great wildflowers, lush jungle and the possibility of tiger sightings.

Travel tips for visiting Nepal during Summer

  • Bring an umbrella, as the weather is usually too warm to wear a rain jacket. The rain showers are often passing and an umbrella allows you to keep doing what you are doing. It also offers great protection from the sun.
  • Be aware that transportation can be unreliable due to flight cancellations, and road closures caused by weather and landslides.
  • Watch for leeches in some areas - long pants and insect repellent will help.
  • Monsoon has interesting festivals like Dancing with Shamans (August Full Moon), Ropain (Rice planting festival in June) and Kora, the cycling challenge that happens every July, bringing thousands of mountain bikers to Kathmandu

Autumn / Fall in Nepal

Autumn is the most popular trekking season in Nepal. It is also an amazing time to visit Nepal for cultural reasons, as there are lots of festivals, nature has vibrant colors as everything just had a wash and vegetation has grown strongly through the monsoon. These great conditions bring lots of people from all over the world, so the trails tend to be busy and the teahouses filled to capacity.

Autumn in Nepal
Crisp skies at Annapurna Base Camp

Where to go in Autumn

Like spring, autumn has the best conditions for the classic treks of Nepal, and the same treks recommended in the section about spring apply. The skies tend to be more crisp, giving autumn a slight edge over spring. This advantage gets offset a bit by the large crowds, making it advisable to consider less popular treks. As for other places to go and activities, all areas in Nepal are accessible during the Fall season, and weather conditions are usually moderate and thus great for traveling.

Travel tips for visiting Nepal during Autumn

  • September may still have some rain as the monsoon season recedes
  • Early Fall may still see some damaged trails caused by monsoon landslides. At the start of October the trails are usually in excellent shape.
  • The popular trails will be crowded. If you like solitude choose off the beaten path treks.
  • Try and time your visit to coincide with the big Autumn festivals like Dasain (October), Tihar (November), and the Mani Rimdu festival in Tengboche above Namche in the Everest region (November)

Conclusion: What is the Best Season to Visit Nepal?

As described above, there is not a single answer to the question what is the best time to go to Nepal. While there is some truth to the conventional wisdom that spring and fall are great for trekking, winter and summer have distinct advantages as well. Increasingly travelers visit Nepal in every season, and armed with the right trip plan Nepal is a great year-round destination. 

Thanks to Raj Gyawali, Mads Mathiasen and Amanda Delecca for their input and feedback.