Nepal can be visited at any time of year. However to make the most out of your trip you really should plan your journey around the time of year best suited to your activity.
Activities in Nepal and the best time of year to do them:
Trekking: Autumn and spring
Heritage: Spring, autumn and winter
Adventure: Spring and autumn
Jungles: Late winter and spring
The above are the best times based on an activity in Nepal. It doesn't mean you can't go trekking in the winter, you can. It just references the best time of year to go.
Similarly jungle activities and heritage can be done at any time of the year. Read on and discover why these are the best times of the year to visit Nepal.
Nepal has a five season temperate climate. Due to its location, landscape and power outages those seasons often dictate when the best time is to visit.
Autumn: The peak tourist season is in the Autumn between September to late November. This is just after the monsoon season so the air is dry and clear. This is the perfect time for visiting Nepal if you are going trekking.
Winter: December & January are cold winter months throughout Nepal. Though it doesn't snow in any of the main non-trekking cities in Nepal it does hit freezing. This is also the time of year when electricity rationing is very high with long hours of no power.
Spring: February to April is Nepal's second busiest tourist season. The climate starts cold but in preceding months gets increasingly warm. Flowers in the valleys begin to bloom and there's little rain. It does however get quite hazy so mountain views will be lessened.
Summer: May to June is the start of the pre-monsoon summer. It gets hot and humid with several showers on the hottest of days. Climate change has meant a lengthening of showers.
Summer (monsoon): June to late August is when the monsoon rains hit Nepal. Climate change again mean that the monsoon may be earlier of later than this. Rains are heavier and there's a risk of flooding in places. The sky is heavy with cloud but it also means blooming flowers and lush green valleys.
Do check out this page on the weather in Nepal for more exact information.
Meanwhile let's check out the pro's and cons of when the best times of year are for trekking, or sightseeing.
Firstly, this section is a summary. Here's a dedicated and extremely detailed page on best time of year to go trekking in Nepal.
Anyone planning to visit Nepal just for trekking will have to weigh up several options before deciding when to go. Primarily it's to do with the weather. Barren brown valleys or lush green flowering valleys. Pristine mountain peaks or hazy views.
It's not just the weather either, these options then need to be balanced with the amount of tourists going. Lot of groups, or very few people.
Best times of the year to go trekking in Nepal
September to November (Autumn) is the peak trekking time of year for visiting Nepal. It's after the monsoon and the weather is clear. It's not too hot nor cold.
Pro's are the visibility will be good and the climate. Negatives are there will be more tourists and the prices of guides/lodges will go up.
February to April (Spring) is another great time of year to visit Nepal for trekking. The earlier months can be cold but not as harsh as winter. They also lack the chance of passes being blocked by snow. Pro's included blooming flowers & more wildlife. Con's include haze and more heat heading into April.
Not so great times of the year to go trekking in Nepal
Trekking in the winter months (Dec-Jan): The weather is very cold and quite often some of the passes will be closed due to snow. Many lodges also close during these months. Pro's include clear visibility and few tourists. Con's include blocked passes and freezing temperatures.
Trekking in the Summer/Monsoon months (June-Aug): The weather is getting hot and outbreaks of heavy rain can make things very sticky. Mudslides become a reality along with many cancelled flights and leeches can be problematic.
For trekkers here is a comprehensive and complete guide on the best time of year to go trekking in Nepal.
First time trekker in Nepal? Start with my guide about trekking in Nepal.
Much of what's been written about times of the year to go trekking also apply to sightseeing in Nepal. The main difference will be that visiting temples, monuments, cities and monasteries mean you won't be as restricted.
Sightseeing during the summer months (May-Aug): The monsoon season is probably Nepal's most unpopular season for visiting the country. Though the rains are manageable they often cause flooding which creates traffic build ups and delays. There's also the risk of landslides in remoter areas.
Also keep in mind that at the start of the monsoon season it can get unbearably hot before the real heavy rains hit.
The Kathmandu valley's heritage is open throughout. Temples and historic sights get the benefit of wash during this time of year so they can look very clean. It's highly advisable you bring closed shoes and a light rain jacket though.
Sightseeing in Nepal during the Autumn (Sept-Nov): This again is Nepal's peak tourist season. Though accommodation is never really booked out in Nepal there is an influx of tourists. It's all go in the main cities and everything is functioning reasonably well. Prices are a little higher now though.
Sightseeing in Nepal during the Winter (Dec-Jan): It's cold at night and in the mornings. Electricity is heavily load shared meaning only about 8 hours in total per day (split into 4 hours in the morning and 4 hours at night). If you can stick that then with lower tourists you'll get cheaper prices for accommodation with some bargaining.
This is one of the best times of year to see heritage buildings and old cities in Nepal as the sun is usually warm during the day and it is dry.
Sightseeing in Nepal during the Spring (Feb-April): This is a good time of year if the weather stays in your favor. Starting out cold and getting increasingly warm you can take your chances and choose which you prefer. Either way the weather is generally favorable and tourist numbers are not as high as they are in Autumn.
Paragliding, micro-flights, rafting, canyoning, zip-lining and bungy jumping are all great activities that can be done at just about anytime of year. However some involving mountain flights or rivers are not so popular during the monsoon season.
Adventure activities in Nepal during the summer months (May-Aug): Rafting is very limited at this time of year. Paragliding and micro flights are often delayed or cancelled due to rains. All other activities are possible including bungy-jumping and zip-lining.
Adventure activities in Nepal during the Autumn (Sept-Nov): Rafting, paragliding and micro flights are all popular at this time of year with excellent conditions all around. Other adventure activities are also popular at this time of year.
Adventure activities in Nepal during the Winter (Dec-Jan): Rafting is possible but dependant on water levels and the size of a group as numbers are usually low. Paragliding and micro flights are all possible at this time of year with good conditions. All other adventure activities are also popular at this time of year with the exception of bungy jumping which might get cancelled if snow blocks the roads..
Adventure activities in Nepal during the Spring (Feb-April): This is a the start of the rafting season as early spring rains start. Paragliding and micro flights do take place but can get cancelled due to rain or haze. Usually flights take place the following day. All other adventure activities can take place in the spring.
Nepal has a an immense about of jungle and wildlife predominantly in its southern Terai regions. Royal Bengal tiger, one-horned rhino, elephants, deer, all manner of bird life, reptiles and fauna are on show throughout.
However it is important to note that some wildlife may not be so easy to spot in certain months.
Jungle safaris in Nepal during the summer months (May-Aug): The monsoon season is probably Nepal's most unpopular season for visiting jungles and spotting wildlife. Jungle trekking in Chitwan and Bardia at this time of year is particularly brutal due to the humidity.
Jungle safaris in Nepal during the Autumn (Sept-Nov): This is Nepal's peak tourist season. While tigers are visibly the still remain elusive. However elephants, rhinos and all other jungle activities can be fully enjoyed at this time of year. The roads are also good for longer journeys out to places like Bardia.
Jungle safaris in Nepal during the Winter (Dec-Jan): This is perhaps the coolest the jungle will get in Nepal. Days are usually warm but mornings and nights can get cold. Tigers are still elusive unless you take deep jungle safaris but rhinos, elephants, game and other wildlife are all easily spotted.
Jungle safaris in Nepal during the Spring (Feb-April): This is a good time of year for spotting royal Bengal tigers along with elephants, rhino and other wildlife. Heavy downpours can spoil the occasional day out though. Dedicated wildlife enthusiasts should try to spend an extra few days in the jungle just in case of downpours.
Trekking: If your primary reason for visiting Nepal is to go trekking then make sure to read this detailed section on when to go trekking in Nepal.
Weather: If you want to know the specific temperatures and rainfall measurements throughout the year in Nepal then check out this page on the weather in Nepal.
Do remember that these are "best" times of the year to do specific activities in Nepal. You can do any of them at different times of the year too. For detailed planning information on Nepal get the best guidebook to Nepal.
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