Is it snowing or just dreary where you are this winter? A sure cure for cabin fever is to start planning summer travels and booking your trip to ensure the best flights and accommodations. Why not think outside the European-vacation box this year and consider summering in Asia? When many parts of the world make for hot and sweating touring, several Asian regions are heating up to perfectly comfortable summer temperatures.
￼Summer, particularly May through September, is the ideal time to traipse across the Himalayas to Tibet. Temperatures up high on the Tibetan plateau are typically in the 70’s and low 80’s. Of course, the higher you go, the cooler you’ll be. Although there may be a few mid-summer rain bursts, downpours occur mostly at night. Rain is unlikely to inhibit walking with the pilgrims on the ancient streets around Jokhang Temple in Lhasa or hiking around Everest Base Camp on the Tibet side.
What to Do: Summer is when the Himalayan women and men turn out in their colorful national dress for festivals, sporting events, fairs, horse races, and dance performances. It’s a great time to mingle with the locals as they gather outdoors to enjoy the warm (for them) weather and picnic on the rarely seen, green grass. Roads and trails are in their best shape, too, so conditions are perfect for traveling by van and hiking in Tibet.
Summer Travel Tips: Book Lhasa accommodations now. All tours lead to Lhasa for the locals, too, and July is prime time for vacationing Chinese students. Also, when you do plan your trip, allow enough advance time to get your China Visa and a Tibet Entry Permit.
Pack for cool nights and warm days and plan on dressing in layers to suit the summer’s temperature swings.
You’re in luck if you go to Ladakh in summer. That’s when this high-altitude region in northern India enjoys its best weather. In fact, you probably wouldn’t want to visit this mountainous area in winter, unless you love the cold and deep snow or are in search of a snow leopard.
The average summer temperature is mid-70’s. (In winter, the average is 16°F!) The roads in this land of high passes are finally clear so be prepared for a series of some of the most exciting drives in the world. Ladakh is also the summer home base for His Holiness the Dalai Lama and many times he will stop in Leh to give teachings and one of the monasteries.
What to Do: There’s almost always a festival or fair going on somewhere in Ladakh. Planning ahead and booking early will guarantee you’ll be in the right place at the right time to enjoy the well-known Stongday, Karsha, Phyang,
Sachukul, Korzok, Dak Thok, Hemis and Sani Nasjal Festivals. It’s often said that today, the most authentic Tibetan Buddhist rituals and celebrations take place in Ladakh.
Ladakh is also a wonderful place to trek in the summer. Hike the Markha Valley, rife with wildflowers and crystal-clear rivulets, trek from Lamayuru to Alchi or another place that stirs your imagination.
Summer Travel Tip: Ladakh has been called a trekker’s paradise because of the varied trails and magnificent landscapes. Get in shape before you go, though, to take advantage of trekking options. And allow time in your itinerary to adjust to the nearly 10,000-feet altitude of Leh, not to mention other areas.
Cool summer days in the Himalayas are a perfect opportunity to enjoy touring Tibet’s first monasteries and drive the newly cleared roads from the city of Tsetang in the Yarlung Valley to Drepung Monastery at the foot of Mt. Gephel.
What to do: Myths and Mountains’ cultural tours of the region trace the legacy of Buddhism from the earliest monasteries to the rites and arts still celebrated today. Visit Samye, Tibet’s first monastery built by King Trisong Detsen. Prostrate yourself before the Jokhang, the holiest place for all Tibetan Buddhists, wander around Shigatse’s Tashilumpo Monastery with the pilgrims, watch monks from Sera debate religious teachings in the traditional and noisy hand-clapping way and bring home a thangka painting of a Buddhist deity or a mandala.
Summer Travel Tip: Visiting Tibet cannot be a spur-of-the-moment decision since it requires a China visa and special travel permits that vary depending on where you go in Tibet. Booking early will allow time for this process and ensure hotel stays during Tibet’s high season.