Though Spring and Autumn are said to be the best seasons to travel to Nepal, this beautiful country can be visited anytime of the year. You just need to know where to head to. Contrary to popular belief, Nepal is not only about mountains. Geographically the country is divided into three regions- Himalayan or high mountains, mid-hills and Terai region. While the highest point in the country is Mount Everest at 8848 metres, the lowest point is Kechana Kalan, a small village in the Terai lowlands lying at an altitude of 60 metres. It is advisable to plan your Nepal trip around the time of year best suited to the activity you are interested in. Get the most out of your vacation reading our ‘Best Time to Travel’ guide!
You will be interested to know that the Nepalese divide the year into six seasons or ritu (season in Nepali) - Basanta (Spring), Grishma (Summer), Barkha (Monsoon season), Sharad (Early Autumn), Hemanta (Late Autumn) and Shishir (Winter).
While locally the year is divided into six seasons, the tourism sector follows the traditional seasonal division, ie, Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. Here’s what you can expect in each season.
Spring is one of the best seasons to travel in Nepal. The weather remains pleasant and warm, neither too hot nor too cold. Flowers bloom and the trekking trails are covered with rhododendron flowers and wild orchids. To celebrate the onset of this wonderful season colourful and vibrant festivals like Holi, Mahashivaratri, Bisket Jatra etc. are celebrated.
This is the ideal season for Trekking and Hiking holidays. You can head to the mountains and walk beneath the high peaks. Take the popular Everest Base Camp Trek, Annapurna Base Camp trek, Ghorepani Poon Hill trek or traverse through the high mountain passes of Thorung La (Annapurna Circuit), Chola and Renjo La. If you prefer solitude, then you can walk through the less crowded trails of Langtang Valley or Manaslu Circuit. The hills around Kathmandu and Pokhara are ideal for day hikes and family excursions. Physically less strenuous and demanding then high-altitude treks, short day hikes take you across a rural landscape filled with terraced fields and small traditional villages.
Spring is the ideal time for helicopter tours. You can head to Everest or Langtang and enjoy aerial views of some of the highest peaks in the world. Everest Heli Treks offer you the luxury of trekking to EBC and returning to Lukla via helicopter. If you are an active person you can also try some multi-activity sports like paragliding, bungy jumping, mountain biking etc.
The balmy days of spring soon give way to hot and humid summer. The temperatures rises and days become humid. In the Terai region temperatures soars above 37 degrees Celsius during summer. Summer season is also characterized by the monsoon rains. While the early summer months are hot and humid with sudden bursts of thundershowers, mid-summer is generally wet with the Monsoon in full swing. There’s continuous rainfall till early September. June, July and August are the wettest seasons.
During this season there is abundant greenery and though not an ideal season to trek, the verdant hillsides are worth exploring during this time of the year. Homage to the Rain God (Rato Machindranath Jatra) is offered during this time. The birth anniversary of the world’s greatest teacher Lord Buddha is also held during this time. Fertility festivals like Ubhauli and Teej are observed. The Brahmins change their sacred thread (Janai Purnima) in this season.
While most of Nepal enjoy the wet spell brought by the monsoon season, the region lying close to the Tibetan plateau remain relatively dry. The regions of Mustang, Dolpo and parts of Manaslu lie below the rain shadow and thus receive no rainfall during the summer months.
People don’t usually travel to Nepal during this time. Summer is the official ‘off-season’ in tourism circle. But there’s an advantage to plan your travel during this time. The upside of traveling during the off-season is, you get to avoid the crowd and enjoy awesome off-season deals and discounts. Most of the service providers offer off-season discounts.
Moreover the landscape is worth a view at this time of the year. The green paddy fields, verdant hills covered with mist and lush rivers, a summer trip to Nepal will reward you with glorious views. Take a village tour and explore the medieval villages of Khokana and Bungamati in Kathmandu Valley. If you intend to trek to the mountains, you can head to Mustang, Dolpo or the Tsum Valley. These places lie under the rain shadow and thus receive no rainfall. If you are a hardcore kayaker or rafting enthusiast you can ride on the rapids of the Himalayan rivers.
Autumn (September to November):
Autumn is the most popular season for tourists visiting Nepal. The skies remain clear. The days are warm and pleasant, but the nights can turn a bit chilly. The humidity disappears and the temperatures remain moderate. The trekking trails are crowded with trekkers as this season offers the best views of the Himalayan peaks.
The reason why Autumn is one of the peak seasons is because the two biggest of the Nepalese, Dashain and Tihar, are celebrated around this time of the year. In Kathmandu the annual Indra Jatra is held where the chariot of the Living Goddess Kumari is pulled across the streets of the old city.
Autumn, like Spring, is another favorite season for travellers visiting Nepal. This season sees the return of the trekkers and mountain climbers. The popular trails like Everest and Annapurna are filled with trekkers from all over the globe. The mountain views are absolutely amazing during this time as the weather remain clear and stable. Hiking around the mid-hills during this time will allow you to be a part of Dashain and Tihar festivities, the major festivals celebrated by the Nepalese. Nepalese are generally warm and friendly and they love inviting guests to their home, however humble it maybe. Travelling in the Terai lowlands is also ideal during this time. You can visit Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha, Chepang villages, Chitwan National Park, Bardiya National Park etc.
As the weather remains stable, outdoor activities like paragliding, white-water rafting, bungy jumping , mountain biking etc. can be done during this time.
The best time to do Everest Base Camp trek and Annapurna Base Camp trek is either spring (March, April, May) or Autumn (Sept, Oct, and Nov). During the spring season, the trails will be covered with blooming flowers and the weather is excellent with clear blue skies. During Autumn, the monsoon clear away and the snow melts, leaving behind naked mountains with very less snow on them. Autumn is ideal for trekking and it is also one of the best seasons in Nepal for merrymaking and travel.
In the mountainous and hilly regions winters are harsh. Temperatures dips below 0 degree in the high mountains. There is snowfall and many locals living in the high altitude migrate to the lower regions to escape the freezing cold. In the mid-hills like Kathmandu and Pokhara the temperatures plummets almost to 4degrees celsius. Winter is the best season to explore the Terai lowlands, as the weather remains generally pleasant during this time. Jungle Safaris to the national parks of Chitwan, Bardia and Koshi Tappu can be scheduled around this time.
Festivals celebrated during this season are Chhath (dedicated to the Sun God), Yomari Punhi (harvest festival) and Losar (Buddhist New Year).
Winter is ideal for wildlife safaris and city tours. Though city tours can be done anytime of the year, during off seasons like winter you can explore the cultural sites in peace, without hordes of tourist jostling around you. Winter is the perfect time for city and cultural tours. You can explore the medieval durbar squares in Kathmandu - Basantapur, Patan and Bhaktapur. You can also travel to ancient Newari towns of Panauti, Bandipur and Sanga. You can combine multi-city tours in your holiday itinerary and visit Kathmandu, Pokhara, Chitwan and Lumbini.
You can also head to the lowlands of Chitwan, Bardiya and Koshi Tappu for a wildlife experience. During winter, birds from the Tibetan highlands and the Himalayan mountains migrate down to warmer areas like Chitwan and Koshi Tappu. Winter is the right time for bird watching tours. You can also discover the geographical diversity of Nepal by taking a road trip to the Terai lowlands. Explore Nepal’s western regions - Karnali, Mugu, Khaptad and border towns.
Nepal maybe a tiny country, but its diversity in terms of landscape and culture will take your breath away. The country is not only about mountains. Its lowlands and valleys are also equally rich in natural beauty and culture. There’s so much to explore and discover in Nepal that a season may not be enough for you!