Shangri La, ‘the Rooftop of the World’ – locked away in its Himalayan fortress, Tibet has long exercised a siren’s hold on the imagination of the West. Tibetans are used to hardship and, despite the disastrous Chinese occupation, they have managed to keep their culture and humour alive. Although the Tibetan climate is not as harsh as many people imagine, be prepared for sudden drops in temperature at night, particularly in western Tibet. The most pleasant time of year is between May and early November, after which temperatures start to plummet. However, in May and June there is a wind factor to consider and dust storms are not unusual. During July and August you may find roads temporarily washed out along the Friendship Highway to Nepal. These two months usually see around half of Tibet’s annual rainfall. October is the best time to make a trip out to the east. Lhasa and its environs don’t get really cold until the end of November. Although winter is very cold, many restaurants are shut and snowfalls can sometimes make travel difficult, some travellers swear by these months. There are few travellers about and Lhasa, for example, is crowded with nomads and at its most colourful. March is a politically sensitive month (the anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan uprising and flight of the Dalai Lama) and there is occasional tightening of restrictions on travellers heading into Tibet at this time. It’s worth trying to make your trip coincide with one of Tibet’s main festivals. Losar (New Year) is an excellent (although cold) time to be in Lhasa. Saga Dawa (April or May) is also a good time to be in Lhasa or Mt Kailash.