When is the best time to visit Nepal? The answer to this question can be discovered with the help of another simple question – What is it about Nepal that interests you?
Some praise Nepal for its natural beauty, whereas some others praise the country for unique culture and long list of festivals that do not spare a single day of a year. Meanwhile, some praise it for the adventure it offers.
So, when you should visit Nepal depends on what you want to do once you are here. Nepal offers such a diversity of activities fitting different seasons such that there is not a single day in a year when Nepal is not fit to visit. From expeditions in Autumn and Spring to festivals throughout the year, Nepal has a lot to offer.
There is a myth that Monsoon (July-August) is the most unfavorable time to visit Nepal because of incessant rainfall, but it is not true since Monsoon does not mean rain all the time. The truth is that, you can visit Nepal any time of the year depending on your interests.
You may also have other preferences like visibility of sky which affects flight safety and temperature especially if you are doing the Everest helicopter Tour.
Some seasons may favor your preferences whereas some others may not. Therefore, first and foremost, let’s learn about different seasons in Nepal.
Seasons in Nepal
How many seasons are there? Four. That would be your answer if you are a westerner. If you are from a place where there are not just four seasons, you will not be surprised that there are broadly five seasons in Nepal. They are spring, summer, monsoon, autumn, and winter. You need to know what these seasons mean for you in Nepal before you decide which season is favorable for you. Here we go:
This season runs from early May to late May. The end of cold winter marks the beginning of this season whereas the season ends paving way for hot summer. The season is the time of vegetation. Blooming flowers, shining green trees and thick bushes are the attractions of this season. You can expect a mild climate during this season. The sky is clear with visibility favorable for flights. The season, being a transition from cold to hot, is pleasant and fit for tourists since most of the activities expected by tourists are viable during this season. The season is popular for expedition of Mount Everest and other mountains of Himalayas. Not just expedition, but also trekking, sightseeing, observing culture and festivals along with adventure activities like paragliding, bungee jumping, rafting, canyoning, among others, are feasible during this time of year.
This season runs from June to July. The season is marked by hot and humid climate. Rainfall can be expected during this season since the clouds from Bay of Bengal which causes Monsoon rain in Nepal start arriving Nepal’s sky in this season. Sky is visible for most of the time, except during the occasional rainfall. A lot of activities can be pursued during this season, including but not limited to trekking and sightseeing. Trekking in rainshadow zone is popular during this season. Rainshadow zone means the zone which does not receive rainfall caused by the Monsoon clouds. For that reason, Upper Mustang trek and Upper Dolpo trek along with other short trek like Langtang trek, Poon Hill trek, Kathmandu valley trek, among others, are possible during this season. Short hikes around Kathmandu and Pokhara is also common during this season.
Monsoon is a unique season in the list. It runs from July to August. Summer and Monsoon are so blended with each other that a person cannot distinguish one from the other. Rainfall caused by the clouds from Bay of Bengal is the characteristic feature of this season. Flooding and landslides are possible hazards during this season. Visibility is poor during this time period of year. However, it does not rain all the time during Summer as well as Monsoon, contrary to the common belief that these seasons are unfit because of the rain. Treks in rainshadow region, the short treks, and short hikes which are possible in Summer are also possible in Monsoon.
Autumn is the season that follows monsoon. It starts in early September and ends in late November. The air is dry during this season. So the visibility is strong. It is the season of festivals. Three major Nepali festivals, Dashain, Tihar, and Chhath, are celebrated in this season. Most of the tourist activities are viable during this season, including expedition, trekking, hiking, sightseeing, observing festivals, and adventure activities. Autumn is as favorable as Spring for a diverse set of tourist activities. If you are a tourist with multiple interests, these seasons are for you.
Early December brings winter in Nepal which continues until late April. Snowfall is common in Himalayan and Mountain reason in this season. Visibility may not be always clear because of dense fog in various places of the country. However, fog is not a problem in many places like Kathmandu since the days are sunny and visibility is strong most of the time. However, short treks are possible during this season. Such short treks include Langtang trek and Poon Hill trek.
Activities and Seasons Favoring Them
After explaining about the seasons in Nepal, now I will familiarize you with the kinds of activities that you can pursue during different seasons. Please note that not all activities are fit for all the seasons. So, it is ultimately your interest that decides your time of trip to Nepal.
Expedition is possibly the most popular tourism product of Nepal (but not the only). 8,848 meters tall Mount Everest, the tallest peak in the world, has long been associated with the identity of the country. Additionally, Nepal has 8 out of 14 peaks in the world that range above 8,000 meters which are Mt Everest, Kanchenjunga, Lhotse, Makalu, Dhaulagiri, Manaslu, Cho Oyu, and Annapurna respectively from tallest to shortest.
Spring is the most favorable seasons for expedition in Nepal. Favorable weather condition due to lack of snowfall and lower temperature attribute to the safety for expeditions in these seasons. Strong visibility during these seasons also favor the climbers in getting views of the mountains to make their expedition worthwhile.
Summer and Monsoon affect visibility whereas winter is the time for snowfall which can pose threats to the mountaineer. However, the month of May which falls in the category of Summer season is also ideal for expedition. Summer is just arriving at that time.
Trekking is for people who are passionate about enjoying nature with a detailed acquaintance. Beautiful vegetation, peaks, lakes, springs, and landscapes of Nepal are sure to be the recipe of enjoyment for a trekker in Nepal.
Spring and Autumn are the best seasons for trekking. With the departure of monsoon, visibility is strong and through the clear space one can enjoy the beauty of Nepal throughout their trek. Moreover, the moderate temperatures of Autumn are bound to provide a relaxing experience if you choose to trek in Autumn. Some famous treks are the Great Himalayan Trail and Treks in Everest Region, Annapurna Region, Langtang Region, and Kanchenjunga Region, among others. Short treks are like the Poon Hill Trek and treks around Kathmandu valley can also be of your choice.
Time for sightseeing is not much different from the time for trekking. Monsoon and Summer are two seasons that a sightseer should try to avoid since the visibility is poor and rainfall is frequent. However, it is not true that sightseeing is impossible in these two seasons. It is just that the other seasons are better. Indeed, Autumn and Spring are the best for sightseeing since the air is clean, and the views are clear in these seasons in comparison to others. Winter too is not a bad time, but at places fog can disturb sightseeing in this season. Either it be Jungle Safari in Chitwan National Park or just a casual visit to any place, you need to be conscious about daily weather before you set out for sightseeing. Any day can be a bad day.
Observing Culture and Festival
Nepali culture is the evergreen identity of the Nepali people. People with 125 castes live in Nepal who speak over 123 languages live in Nepal, according to the 2011 census conducted by Nepal Bureau of Statistics. People with varying lifestyle can be found in Nepal due to the diversity in culture even within a small area. Nepali art and architecture have remained as the keepsake of Nepali culture for hundreds of years.
Pagoda-style temples, which are characterized by the multiple layers of roofs, are commonplaces in Nepal and can be visited at any time of the year. Also, Buddhist shrines like Swayambhunath and Boudhanath of Kathmandu Valley – which have also been listed in the World Heritage List by UNESCO – can also be visited in any season. Durbar Squares (Palace Squares) of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, and Patan are also always open for visit. These squares were harmed by the earthquake of 2015 in Nepal and are in the process of reconstruction. Yet, they are open to visit. So, no need to worry!
It might sound crazy, but it is true that we have festivals all over the year. Hinduism, the major religion in the country, is diverse with people following different gods and deities. Thus, the festivals, which are generally the worship to such deities, vary to a great extent throughout the country. Below are a few major festivals you can observe in Nepal along with their time of celebration and significance:
- Dashain is the main festival of Hindus in Nepal in which people receive blessings from their seniors. It falls in the beginning of autumn season, October or November generally depending on the Vedic Lunar Calendar. Dashain is a family festival which people celebrate in close family circles, so there is not much to see in the streets. However, you can expect to visit temples of Durga, a hindu goddess to whom the festival is dedicated, during this period of time.
- Tihar is another major Hindu festival which is celebrated in the fortnight of Dashain. In Tihar, crows, dogs, cows, and oxen are worshipped for their roles in human life. Newari people (the indigenous of Kathmandu valley) worship themselves as well during Tihar; such worship is called ‘Mha Pooja’, meaning self-worship. Tihar is also the festival of brightness. You can see the streets and houses decorated with lights, flowers, and colourful paperworks. You can definitely witness people singing Deusi-Bhailo in the streets–a typical Nepali folklore. Also sisters wish for the long life of their brothers on the last day of the five-day-long festival.
- Chhath is a major festival of Terai (Plains) of Nepal. You will not be able to observe this festival in the Hilly and Hmalayan region of Nepal. Sun god is worshipped in this festival. This festival is celebrated within a week of Tihar.
- Maha Shivaratri falls in February or March. Lord Shiva, a major deity in Hinduism, is worshipped in this festival. Hundreds of thousands of people from across the globe observe this festival at Pashupatinath Temple of Kathmandu.
- Indrajatra falls in August or September. Indra, the king of gods, is worshipped by both Hindus and Buddhists of Kathmandu in this festival.
- You can observe Maghe Sankranti, the festival marking the end of winter, in mid-January.
- Fagu Purnima, also known as Holi, is getting popular in Western Culture as well. It is the festival of colors and happiness, and is observed in late February or early March.
- Janai Purnima, festival of changing sacred thread worn by Hindus across their body is celebrated in August.
- Buddha Jayanti, birthday of Lord Budhha, is observed in May or June.
There are numerous other festivals which you can observe in Nepal in order to get the real-time experience of Nepali way of life. Anyway, you will observe one festival or other whenever you come to Nepal.
What sort of adventure you are interested in? Paragliding, micro-flights, rafting, canyoning, bungee jumping, among others, are popular adventure activities in Nepal. Most of the adventure activities are fit for any time of year except a few that involve mountain flights and rivers (paragliding, micro-flights, and rafting). They do not fit with Monsoon and Summer season since the visibility is poor and rivers are flooded due to heavy rainfall. On the other hand, Autumn and Spring are the seasons which favor all sorts of adventure activities.
Rafting is not safe in Winter as well since water levels can be way too much shallow. The beginning of Spring is fittest for rafting since it begins with light rainfall increasing the water level in rivers.
So, when is the best time to visit Nepal? You might have figured out your answer.
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