So, you’ve decided you want to go to Nepal? Or you have some dates in mind for a vacation but you don’t know yet where you’ll go, and Nepal is on your shortlist? Then you’ve come to the right place. Here we’ll tell you everything you need to know about the best time to visit Nepal, whether you’re planning to trek to Everest Base Camp or Annapurna Sanctuary, explore Kathmandu on a city break, go trekking in the lower, fertile valleys of the Himalayan foothills, or explore the mythical Mustang region in the rain shadow of the Annapurna massif.
Seasons and weather in Nepal
In order to plan your visit to Nepal you’ll need to know about each of the distinct seasons in the country. Exactly where in the country you intend to visit will also need to be taken into consideration as the climate of the higher alpine regions is noticeably different to that of the low-lying areas. Below we’ve detailed each of the seasons in Nepal (locally there are considered to be six distinct seasons of two months each, aligning with the Hindu calendar, whilst most visitors tend to only think about five). So below you’ll find everything you need to know about the seasons in Nepal.
Spring (Basanta Ritu)
Spring in Nepal is around mid-March to mid-May, and is characterised by the striking colours of blooming rhododendrons in the valleys, gardens, and hills. If the Khumbu region and Everest is the focus of your visit then you can expect a buzz in the air towards the later part of Spring, as it’s summiting time for the climbing parties – the culmination of a 50+ day expedition to the top of the world. It’s still warm enough to be trekking towards Everest Base Camp in a t-shirt in Nepali spring time.
Spring in the lower areas, like Chitwan National Park, means relatively high humidity year-round. Temperatures are comfortable and birdlife abundant, as the sal trees, dominant in the UNESCO World Heritage site of Chitwan, bloom new leaves and other plantlife starts to flourish again after the lower temperatures of winter give way to the warmth of spring. In spring temperatures at Namche Bazaar Bazaar (3440 metres/11286 feet) range from 3-9°C (37-48°F) and between 23°C and 28°C (73-82°F) in the low-lying area of Chitwan National Park.
The beginning of spring is marked with the holi festival in Hindu tradition. The day is spent celebrating, covering one another in coloured powders and throwing water balloons on the streets in towns and villages across the country. If you’re venturing outside on Holi festival day then you’re considered to be participating, so expect to get wet and colourful! If you’re in Kathmandu then Thamel and Durbar Square are the best places to experience the fun.
Summer (Grishma Ritu)
The summer months of mid-May to mid-July are the hottest months of the year in Nepal, with temperatures ranging from 9-12°C (48-54°F) at Namche Bazaar (town on the trekking route to Everest Base Camp) to 28°C (82°F) in Chitwan National Park (at an elevation ranging between 100-815 metres above sea-level (330 feet – 2674 feet).
The summer season sees fresh fruit growing, mangoes and berries are local favourites during Nepali summertime. Summer is also the season when most farmers will be planting their fields, the warmer temperatures make for good growing conditions. Rice is the main cereal crop in Nepal, agriculture the highest provider of employment, and second highest contributor to GDP. By planting in the latter stages of summer, farmers allow the rice plants to grow prior to the coming monsoon season, by which time the plants are able to survive the floods and continue providing for the population.
If you’re going trekking then the summer season may not be the best time of year to visit, although a trek in early summer is not out of the question. As the summer progresses Everest Base Camp empties as climbing parties finish their expeditiions, and the warmer temperatures make for dangerous conditions for serious mountaineering due to increased avalanche risk. The hot, dry regions, like the Upper Mustang in the rain shadow of the Annapurnas, are scorching at this time of year, and so trekking there is not recommended.
Monsoon (Barsha Ritu)
The rainy or monsoon season in Nepal begins around mid-July and ends mid-September. The average rainfall jumps from 84mm in May, to 351mm in July, 311mm for August, and 197mm in September. The rains are crucial to agriculture throughout Nepal, providing irrigation for crops and reinvigorating dry soils. Travel by road, particularly in rural or higher areas of Nepal can become extremely difficult during the monsoon season as muddy conditions make roads impassable.
The humidity remains high in the fertile lowlands of Nepal, and so average temperatures remain comfortable even in monsoon season – Kathmandu averages around 22°C (71°F), and Namche Bazaar hovers between 10-12°C (50-54°F).
Trekking is still possible during the monsoon season, but the highest mountains of the Khumbu and Annapurna regions are cloaked in cloud for virtually all of the rainy season. To avoid the rains, we’d recommend heading to the Mustang region in the rain shadow of the Annapurnas. It’s a dry, sem-arid climate which avoids the monsoon thanks to the massive mountains to the south, and is a great region to explore during monsoon. Temperatures in the Mustang region during monsoon average 27-29°C (81-84°F).
Autumn (Sharad Ritu)
Autumn in Nepal is festival season! The rains ease off significantly, and autumn (mid-September to mid-November) is a time for celebration in the predominantly Hindu country of Nepal. The most significant festival in the calendar year for Nepalese Hindus is Dashain. The 15 day-long festival has a focus on family gatherings, the giving of gifts and blessings, and renewing community ties. The planting of crops in Nepal is finished during the monsoon season, which allows those working in agriculture – one of the main sources of employment in Nepal – time to celebrate and be with their families during the festival.
If you’re hoping to visit Nepal during Dashain, as many do – September-November are busy months for trekkers on the Everest Base Camp and Annapurna Sanctuary treks – you can expect the streets of Kathmandu to be quieter than usual. All government offices, schools, and many private businesses are closed during the festival so some services are disrupted. As it is one of the peak seasons for visitors, it’s advisable to book accommodation well in advance of your visit, or travel with the experts and let us take care of the details.
Although Autumn is slightly less busy than spring with regards to trekking the trails of the Himalayas, you can still expect to see lots of folks out there in the comfortable trekking temperatures of this season. You can expect beautifully clear skies and fertile valleys following the recent monsoons. The average autumn temperature range for Kathmandu (1400 metres/4593 feet) is 15-22°C (59-71°F), and at Namche Bazaar (3440 metres/11286 feet) the average temperature range is 3-10°C (37-50°F), this is a great time of year to go trekking in the Khumbu or Annapurna regions.
Pre-Winter (Hemanta Ritu)
In Nepal the pre-winter months of mid-November to mid-January are a time for returning to work. The festivities of Dashain and other national celebrations are over, and this period sees the agricultural sector – around 65% of Nepal’s population - really cranking to harvest crops before the true cold of winter arrives.
For many, trekking in Nepal in the winter is out of the question due to the low temperatures of the higher, most sought-after altitudes. We though are of the opinion that, as long as you pack correctly and have the right gear, the early part of pre-winter can still be a great time of year to climb high (to Base Camps) in the Khumbu and Annapurna regions.
There are also lots of accessible treks in the low-lying regions of Nepal where the temperatures are more tolerable and the landscapes equally dramatic. The Langtang National Park boundary is a stone’s throw from Kathmandu, and borders Tibet. Most walks in the Park don’t climb to more than 3000 metres (9842 feet) which means temperatures are more comfortable than, say, Namche Bazaar.
During these pre-winter months the average temperature range for Kathmandu is 9-15°C (48-59°F) and for Namche Bazaar the average range is -1-3°C (30-37°F).
Winter (Shishir Ritu)
Winter (mid-January to mid-March) in Nepal sees much of the trekking tourism slow down in the higher elevations of the Himalayas. The early part of the winter months (December and January) mean there is still significant risk of avalanches due to heavy snowfalls and changing temperatures up high - we’ll tend to avoid the trails in the Khumbu and Annapurna regions until later in the season when the temperatures begin to climb towards spring.
Chitwan National Park, being low-lying, is a great place to explore during Nepali winter as wildlife is still fairly active and temperatures are comfortable – average temperature range for Chitwan is 16-23°C (61-73°F). Chitwan National Park is home to rhinos, monkeys, tigers, and myriad birdlife.
As the worst of the winter subsides, skies clear, and temperatures begin to climb, trekking to Annapurna Sanctuary and Everest Base Camp becomes viable once again. Rhododendrons are taking bloom, and the buzz of anticipation begins as climbers start their expeditions to Base Camps in order to make summit attempts on the world’s highest mountains. Late-winter/early-spring is a great time of year to undertake a trek to the higher altitudes of the Khumbu and Annapurna regions. The average temperature at Namche Bazaar on the Everest Base Camp route ranges from -1-4°C (30-39°F), whilst Kathmandu stays considerable warmer, ranging between 9-16°C (48-61°F).