BEST TIME TO VISIT NEPAL
There are two main best times to visit Nepal: March to end April (a very short window and we’ll tell you about below) as well as from October into the end of November. Of course you can visit this former Himalayan kingdom anytime, but for a richer experience, its best to get it right in terms and weather and, if you’d like to see something special (we’ll mention this later) the colourful festivals.
Let’s talk about the autumn season first – October to end of November. It’s a best time to visit Nepal as days are dry and it makes good trekking – you get clear blue, epic skies. If you leave it any later, for example and attempt to trek in December – depending on altitude temperatures can drop to minus 30, so it is actually quite dangerous. Responsible trekking companies will not operate trekking from December into the end of February for these reasons.
If you’re not trekking it is a different matter, but bear in mind Dec to February can be cool, and very cold at night even on lower ground. Kathmandu for example can drop into the minuses at night time which is not a lot of fun for most people. So to recap, the best time to visit Nepal in the autumn should be October through to the end of November.
The other best time to visit Nepal is end of March until early May. If you go any later, temperatures can be hot, the sky white with cloud cover instead of blue and it can be humid. Bear in mind June to September brings rain.
For the best time to visit Nepal you need not just consider climate but visability. Some travellers may want to fly over Everest for example – an expensive but awesome experience – that can be spoilt if you go too late or too early in the season. Imagine crisp blue skies over the white Himalaya as opposed to grey clouds and you’ll get the picture. For this reason a lot of photography groups come in April.
For a best time to visit Nepal you might also want to consider the festivals. There’s a great one in April for example, that celebrates the end of winter – the Bisket Jatra. It’s a potent display of ancient culture and celebration. It usually takes place in mid April and is recommended if you’re travelling in the spring. Do your research to find out when.
Likewise, a best time to visit Nepal can be in the autumn for the Diwali festival – the festival of lights. The month of this varies but is usually anytime in October to November. Research before you go. To see little villages lit up by night, or fireworks across the city, as well as special religious ceremonies at night time in the temples is a delight.
Autumn (September-November) and spring (late February-mid-April) are also great seasons to trek in Nepal. Autumn brings exceptional clarity, the dust is all taken away by the monsoon, and spring days are warmer and longer. The summer monsoon is between June and September, so these aren’t the best months to visit if you’re hiking, especially as June is the hottest month in Nepal. Winter – especially January and February – is very chilly. Wrap up warm and you’ll be some of the only visitors in the mountains but in can be taxing.
Below is a more specific run-down on the best time to visit Nepal.
The Annapurna hiking circuit is very popular with tourists but could be affected by snowfall and can close during winter months. This will obviously affect other popular treks such as Everest Base camp. So check before you go. Incidentally, those who actually climb Everest usually go in May.
Pokhara is a very popular destination and is usually on any visit to Nepal. It is also one of the wettest places as it below the Annapurna mountain range. The dry period March to May and October into December are best. Outside of these dates and it can be hit and miss. Pokhara is also a gateway into mini one day treks.
Chitwan, to see the wildlife, is also a popular destination. The road to get here from Kathmandu is a winding downhill twist for several hours through the hills. The best season – April or October and November are fine, but in the summer, roads can suffer from landslides. In the winter by contrast – December to February – whilst there is no rain, Chitwan is lying dormant, trees can be laid bare, mornings cool and misty, which does not make it a best time to visit. It lacks the tropical like atmosphere of high season and is a poorer experience.
From the beginning of December into January and February, Nepal’s is deep in winter. Whilst it won’t bother some, temperatures drop by a great degree come nightfall, especially in the mountains. Bear in mind that many budget hotels (and virtually all in the mountains) have little or no heating. So if you are trekking you’ll need a good sleeping bag! Even in lower altitude budget or mid-range hotels you might find cold rooms and discomfort, remember Nepal is a developing country and it gets lots of power cuts too – who likes to sit in a cold room in the dark?
March marks the spring in Nepal and thus begins a great time to visit Nepal especially as we head into April. Flowers are in bloom, there are wonderful festivals and days are longer too. You’ll be able to eat outside ‘al fresco’ on warm April evenings. Don’t come to early in spring though, as in early March you’ll be eating indoors and will need to pack your jacket! As you can see seasons mark distinct shifts in temperatures.
In the month of May it begins to get hot. Clouds start to float over and many days are overcast. This is the point at which monsoon season is rearing its head. So for photography it offers poorer light etc.
Nepal’s monsoon season runs primarily through June, July and August with some overspill into September. It tends to rain heavily for a couple of hours in the afternoon, but you can enjoy some sunshine in-between too. The issue here can be the muddy streets – much of Nepal is unpaved – even in parts of the cities. Landslides can happen on roads between, for example, Kathmandu and Pokhara (a popular tourist hub) or on the way to the jungle in Chitwan. So if you’re thinking of the best time to travel to Nepal, this can be a bit of a risk. Areas in the mountains, due to landslides, can be impassable.
As the monsoon ends in September, Nepal becomes alight with big blue skies and daily sunshine, the air is fresh and the views glorious. Almost guaranteed dry days between October and November makes it great trekking season and also a great cultural season to visit too. Whilst much of Europe languishes in the cool, in Nepal at this time, it will feel like a fresh summer. The very best time to visit Nepal in our view is April, October and November. We hope this article gives you a taste of how important it is to get your timing right. Of course you can travel out of season, hotels are cheaper etc but the experience is not the same.