Sometimes there isn’t a clear answer to the most commonly asked questions, like “When is the best time to go?”
Nepal’s monsoon and winter seasons (i.e. the low tourism seasons) fall between June and August and December and February respectively. Both are premium travel times for those on summer breaks or Christmas/New Year’s vacations. And both offer surprisingly valid reasons for booking a vacation to Nepal during these months, nevermind that travel costs are cheaper.
As “overtourism” becomes a more commonly used word, travelers are seeking more sustainable ways to visit popular destinations and taking vacations during the off-season is one way to do that. Timing travel to when the crowds have dissipated means there’s less impact on the destination.
Here are a few places we love to visit during Nepal’s low seasons:
- The Terai region, the southernmost part of the country, is a wet lowland area and it is home to Chitwan National Park, Nepal’s first national park. Chitwan’s jungle is a sanctuary for one-horned rhinoceros, Bengal tigers, crocodiles and rare birds. Wildlife safaris in the park can be far more enjoyable, and less steamy, in the winter. Our “Magical Nepal” itinerary combines three days in Chitwan with cultural attractions in Pokhara and Kathmandu and more.
- The Mustang district, once an independent kingdom near the Tibetan border, sits in a rain shadow, an area protected from monsoons by the high Himalayas. Because of its high elevation and the winds that blow up the Kali Gandaki river gorge, the deepest in the world, Mustang can get extremely cold in the winter. Summer is the optimal time for a visit. While the colorful three-day Tiji Festival often falls in May (dependent on the lunar calendar), travelers can explore the Forbidden Kingdom’s monasteries, meditation caves and villages on our “Lower Mustang” itinerary throughout the summer.
- Two of Nepal’s top attractions, Everest and Annapurna, can also be ideal destinations in the winter, when there are fewer travelers on the trails. Sticking to the lower elevation trekking routes is recommended, but the panoramic views of the great mountains will be just as amazing. “The Mardi Himal Trek” is a lesser traveled, four or five day route in the Annapurna range. “The Everest Panorama Trek” is a beautiful seven-day route through the Khumbu region with views of some of the Himalaya’s most impressive peaks, Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse and Ama Dablam.
- Travelers should visit dynamic cities like Kathmandu or Pokhara any time of year, but the low seasons mean better deals and fewer crowds at cultural attractions. From Kathmandu, visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Bhaktapur and the beautiful Newari town of Panuati. Explore Buddhist stupas and Hindu temples in Kathmandu Valley. In case of bad weather, take a rickshaw to tour city markets, temples and Kathmandu’s Durbar Square, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Or stay indoors with a local family for a cooking class to learn how to make a traditional meal and what daily life is life inside the home.