Best Time to Visit Namtso Lake in Tibet

Namtso, which means “Heavenly Lake” in Tibetan language, is often described as being next to Heaven because of its high altitude, stunning beauty, blue lake waters and fascinating associations. It is the highest salt lake in the world. Snow-capped mountains and open grasslands, dotted with yaks and local herdsmen, surround the sparkling Namtso Lake, making it one of the most beautiful places in Tibet. It is located in the north of Lhasa, Tibet, between the two counties of Damxung and Baingoin. The south of the lake is the majestic Nyenchen Tanglha Mountains, and the north and northwest of the lake is the flat Northern Tibetan Plateau. The lake is 70 kilometers long from east to west, 30 kilometers wide from south to north, covering an area of 1940 square kilometers. The source of Namtso lake is mainly from natural precipitation and alpine melting snow, and the lake water can not flow out, it is the largest inland lake in Tibet. Lake water is salty and undrinkable, it is the second largest salt lake after Qinghai Lake.

Namtso Climate

Namtso Lake locates at 4718 meters above sea level on Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, surrounded by mountains which are covered by snow all year around. It is completely closed and no rivers flow out. Its special geographical characteristics determine that the lake has special climate and climatic conditions. Namtso Lake is a transitional zone from semi-humid to semi-arid with the climatic characteristics of much of wind, strong sunlight, heavy snow in winter, medium precipitation, and alpine-arctic. The air density there is about 0.72 km/m, and more than 65% of the days are sunny. The rainy season is from June to October with an average annual precipitation of 410 mm and the dry season is from November to the following May. Strong winds usually occur in the afternoon and at the twilight time from December to May in the following year. Sudden changes in temperature and snowstorms are common at the Namtso Lake area. The warmest months are June, July and August, when normal temperatures are around 15 degrees Celsius and can rise to about 22 degrees Celsius. The coldest months are December, January and February, with temperatures as low as minus 10 degrees Celsius.

Due to frequent snowfall and low temperatures, the lake usually freezes in winter and spring, covered with thick ice. Snowfall often begins from November. Then the surrounding mountains will be completely covered by snow. As the temperature became lower and lower, the ice on the lake became thicker. The ice does not begin to melt until May, when visitors could hear the loud sound of broken ice.

Best Time to Visit Namtso

It is suggested that you visit Namtso Lake from June to September, especially in August, with pleasant temperature, pure sky and green grasslands. In addition, you can enjoy better accommodation and dining conditions.

Summer and Autumn

The summer of Namtso lake runs from May to August. It is as long as winter and perfects for exploring at Namtso lake. During summer time, it won’t be very hot in the daytime even if the temperature increases a lot. The normal temperature in May is about 11.9℃. It began to rise in June, and then remain stable in July and August, the normal temperature at that time is about 15℃ and can rise to 22℃. You won’t feel cold since the coldest temperature is only 10℃. But there is a temperature difference between daytime and night. Green grassland is the biggest feature of summer, you can see the herds of the local herdsmen scattered everywhere on the grasslands.

Autumn lasts only from September to October. The temperature begins to fall in September, but it is not obvious. So September is still one of the best months to visit Namtso lake. In October, it is not cold during the daytime, but when night comes, the temperature can drop to about 1℃, and the surrounding meadows and plants on mountains will begin to perish.

Winter and Spring

In winter and spring, due to bad weather and weather conditions, it is not a good time to go to Namtso. Generally speaking, winter and spring are very similar, dry, cold and snow. The winter at Namtso Lake is long, usually from November to February in the following year. Because Namtso is located in the north of Tibet, it snows every winter, and the roads are less safe at that time. It’s also cold there, and the lake freezes in winter and spring. From December to February each year, scenic spots are usually closed because of heavy snow. During this time, hotels and restaurants will also retreat. Therefore, if you want to visit Namtso, you must come here in summer and autumn, which are the best time to visit the sacred lake.

Travel Tips

1. Namtso Lake is located on the plateau of more than 4700 meters above sea level. People who do not acclimatize to the plateau environment are prone to altitude reaction, especially at night. Our advice is that you can stay in Lhasa and its surrounding low-altitude areas for a few days. When your body is ready, you can go to Namtso Lake. If you have no confidence on your physical conditions, don’t spend the night at Namtso Lake.

2. After arriving at the lake, you should keep warm all the time. Don’t take off your jacket even it is not so cold, or you may catch a cold, which is dangerous on the plateau. Avoid long and fast walking and other strenuous activities.

3. Visiting Namtso Lake, you only need to handle the Tibet Travel Permit issued by the Tibet Tourism Bureau. Other permits, such as Alien’s Travel Permit, military permits and border pass, are not required. Travelers cannot apply for the permits alone. You must have China Travel Agency applying for the permit on your behalf. It usually takes 15 to 20 days to get a Tibet Travel Permit.

4. Down jacket and other warm clothes are necessary when travelling at Namtso Lake. Whether you wear a jacket or a shirt, it should be long-sleeved. It is recommended to bring a pair of strong, waterproof, warm and fit shoes. You can wear a hat and a scarf to protect your neck from sunburn during the day. Because of the strong solar radiation in the daytime, you can also bring sun cream, sunglasses and other sunscreen products.

Tour Packages Including Namtso Lake

6 Days Shoton Festival Experience Tour

6 Days Lhasa and Lake Namtso Small Group Tour

8 Days Tibet Cycling Tour from Lhasa to Namtso Lake

8 Days Classic Tibet Train Tour from Xining

8 Days Tibet Fabulous Forest and Mountains Tour