When is the best time of year to visit Nepal?
The best time to visit Nepal is pre- and post-monsoon (March to April and September to November), especially if you want to go trekking. Spring (March to May) is a particularly beautiful season as the rhododendrons are in bloom. That being said, there’s still heaps to do even in the off-season (not to mention a jam-packed calendar of cultural and religious festivals), so you're bound to have a brilliant trip no matter when you go. Here’s our month-by-month guide to travel in Nepal.
Best for: crowd-free trails, clear skies, wildlife spotting in Chitwan National Park
January is a magical time to trek in the Himalayas thanks to little to no rainfall. Despite being the coldest month, there are consistently clear skies and the mountain views are some of the best all year. Popular treks like Everest Base Camp and the Annapurna Circuit typically aren’t busy, so there’ll be less foot traffic and fantastic photo ops on the trails.
If trekking isn’t your thing, January is slap bang in the middle of the dry season in Chitwan National Park, so it’s an ideal time to spot wildlife. It can be hectic in the capital of Kathmandu and other major cities due to domestic travellers celebrating the New Year, but it's a great time to immerse yourself in Nepalese culture if you enjoy the hustle and bustle.
Best for: trekking, small crowds, Maha Shivaratri, Tibetan New Year
The bite of winter in the high Himalaya eases towards the end of the month, and signs of spring start appearing. As an off-season, the trails are still crowd-free and sunny skies make for near-perfect trekking conditions (win-win!).
February is also a great month to experience some of Nepal’s major religious festivals. One of them is Maha Shivaratri, an auspicious Hindu festival that sees thousands of devotees gathering at Kathmandu’s Pashupatinath Temple to pray, chant and take part in rituals to worship Lord Shiva.
There’s also the Losar festival (Tibetan New Year) celebrated by the Sherpa, Tibetan, Tamang, Bhutia and Yolmo peoples. Each community has unique traditions, but they often involve ceremonial dances at local monasteries and family feasts of chaps (deep-friend pastries), guthuk (dumpling soup) and other specialties. You’ll undoubtedly be invited to join in the festivities if you’re trekking in the Himalayas.
Best for: Holi festival, trekking, spring blooms
One word: Holi! Nepal is a predominantly Hindu country, and Holi is a big deal. This ancient Hindu festival celebrates the eternal love between deities Radha and Krishna and the welcoming of spring. Expect a riot of colour, folk music, roaring bonfires and lots of laughter as you join locals to (literally) throw bright-coloured powders over each other.
March also marks the first of Nepal’s two peak trekking seasons (the other being September to November). The days get longer, and some higher-altitude trails become accessible again. The highlight of trekking in March is the beautiful rhododendrons that bloom and add a splash of red and pink to the (already incredible) landscape – there’s no sight quite like it. Some of the prettiest flowers are in Langtang Valley and the Everest Region.
Best for: trekking, spring blooms Bisket Jatra
April is one of the busiest months in Nepal, and for good reason. The warmer weather creates ideal conditions to tackle higher passes, and mountain meadows and forests are filled with sweet-smelling blooms. It can get quite hot towards the end of the month, with temperatures in Kathmandu and Pokhara reaching the low 30s. If you’re not keen on the heat, head out of the city to the Trisuli River to enjoy cooler temperatures and fresh air.
April also sees the eyebrow-raising festivities of Bisket Jatra, a nine-day festival to welcome the arrival of spring. Celebrated in Bhaktapur Durbar Square and Thimi, a massive chariot of two deities, Bhairav and Bhadrakali, is pulled through the city and two neighbourhoods battle it out in an intense tug of war to bring it to their area. Crowds also throw vermillion powder over each other while singing folk songs and dancing in the streets.
Best for: trekking, Buddha Jayanti
May is the last month of spring (and the final month to trek before the monsoon). Temperatures begin to climb with hot and sticky conditions in Kathmandu Valley and Pokhara, but it’s glorious weather to hike up the mountains where a cooler climate awaits. Afternoon showers become more frequent towards the end of the month, but it’s usually not wet enough to disrupt your travel plans.
A highlight in May’s festival calendar is Buddha Jayanti, AKA Buddha’s birthday. Celebrated on May's full Moon, locals decorate their homes with pretty butter lamps, visit temples and monasteries in white clothing to make offerings and pray, and eat kheer (a sweet rice pudding).
Best for: thinner crowds, cultural activities
June marks the start of summer and the rainy season. While it doesn’t rain all day, you can expect some rain every day (the afternoons usually bring heavy downpours). Trekking isn’t recommended during the monsoon as the trails are muddy (and you’ll likely encounter leeches), rivers swell and thick cloud cover can hide the mountains.
If you don’t mind the heat, there’s plenty to do in Kathmandu (even when it’s raining). Stroll the city’s frenetic streets alongside holy men, monks and sacred cows, peruse the markets and bazaars or watch pilgrims bathing along the banks of the sacred Bagmati River.
Best for: scenic flights over the Himalayas, cultural activities
July is one of the quietest months in Nepal. Trekking isn’t recommended in some areas as the monsoon rains saturate the ground and increase the risk of landslides, though hikes in Kathmandu Valley are still doable. Frequent road closures can also make it challenging to get around.
If you’re itching to see the Himalayas, why not take off on a scenic flight from Kathmandu. You’ll be treated to stunning views of the Himalayas in just an hour. You could also learn how to whip up Nepalese fare at a cooking class, or visit one of the city’s many temples.
Best for: Twenty Thousand Lakes, Everest Base Camp trek with small crowds
The rain eases at the end of August and the landscape starts flourishing with greenery again. Everest Base Camp treks kick off again, and while it's warm and wet at lower elevations, the weather will get cooler and drier as you ascend the mountains. The plus side is that there aren’t as many trekkers, so you’ll have the views (almost) all to yourself.
August is also a great month to visit Twenty Thousand Lakes (Bis Hajaar Tal) near Chitwan National Park. Explore a maze of small lakes teeming with wildlife, including crocs and hundreds of migratory bird species. If you’re lucky, you might spot the Indian rhino.
Best for: trekking, white water rafting, Indra Jatra festival
The monsoon usually ends mid-September and clouds make way for blue skies. Hikers return to the trails in large numbers towards the end of the month as conditions continue to improve and teahouses (guesthouses) open up again. With high river water levels, thrill seekers can get their kicks on a white water rafting adventure on the Trisuli, Bhote Kosi or Upper Seti rivers.
If you’re in Kathmandu, be sure to check out the Indra Jatra festival, where you can watch the chariot of Kumari, Nepal’s Living Goddess, carried through the streets to a procession of loud drums.
Best for: trekking, white water rafting, camping by the Trisuli River, Dashain
October marks Nepal’s second trekking season of the year. Trail conditions are near-perfect, and you’ll be treated to incredible views of the Himalayas thanks to clear skies. If you want to tick off Base Camp, Annapurna or Poon Hill, now’s the time. Just remember that it’ll be busy (October is one of the peak tourist months).
White water rafting season is also in full swing, and now that the heavy rain has stopped, you can camp under the twinkling Nepalese skies on the banks of the Trisuli River. Culture vultures will also love Dashain, a two-week festival in honour of the Hindu goddess Durga. Expect elaborate pujas (prayer rituals), feasts, kite flying, and sword and music precessions.
Best for: trekking, Diwali
Prime hiking conditions continue into November with very little rain, low humidity and clear skies. The temperature gets considerably colder, but a few extra warm layers are worth it for the unobstructed vistas.
If you’re around for Tihar (also known as Diwali), you’re in for a real treat. Hindus, Jains and Sikhs celebrate this religious festival to deter darkness with light and celebrate the triumph of good over evil. Thousands of lights illuminate Nepal's cities and towns, fireworks light up the sky and locals draw beautiful mandalas outside their homes.
Best for: wildlife watching in Chitwan National Park, smaller crowds
Crowds start to thin out as icy temperatures take hold. However, the weather is mostly dry, so if you don’t mind rugging up, it can be a magical time to explore with a backdrop of the snow-clad Himalayas. It’s much warmer on lower ground and in the country's southern reaches, which can see highs of 25°C.
December is one of the best months to discover wildlife in Chitwan National Park as it’s dry and the visibility is excellent. You might get lucky and spot tigers and larger animals as they tend to congregate around waterholes.
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