Best Times to Visit Bhutan: Weather & Travel Info

Best Times to Visit Bhutan: Weather & Travel Info

By CarolUpdated Oct. 22, 2021

The best time to visit Bhutan is in spring (March to May) when the weather is pleasant, and the valleys are in full bloom. In spring, the average temperature in Bhutan is around 11–20°C (35–68°F), and the country receives an average rainfall of 100 mm (4 in).

On the other hand, autumn/fall (September to November) is also an excellent time to visit Bhutan. The average temperature in fall is 10–22°C (50–71°F). For those looking to hike, this is the best time to visit, as it seldom rains during this season. The average rainfall during this season is around 45 mm (2 in).

If you are not traveling for a special event, such as a festival or trek, you can visit Bhutan at any time of the year.   

If you’re looking to combine some hiking and local experiences, then the spring and fall are ideal times to visit, as numerous festivals are held in Thimphu, Paro, and Punakha then. The Tshechu Festival celebrated in Punakha and Paro offers an excellent opportunity to experience Bhutan’s rich history and culture.

In this article, we will provide all the information you need to decide on the best time to visit Bhutan.

Overview

  • March and April are excellent months to visit Bhutan, as the valleys will be in full bloom. The weather will be pleasant, and the valleys will be lush and green with paddy fields and verdant forests.
  • May is hot and humid, so fewer tourists visit around this time. However, the rhododendrons will be in full bloom, and this is an excellent time to visit for photographers and nature lovers.
  • The months from June to August are the peak of the monsoon season in Bhutan. The country experiences heavy rains during these months, and the mountains are enveloped by thick fog and mist.
  • December is the coldest month in Bhutan, but skies will be clear with few to no showers. The valleys will be sunny, and you can catch fantastic views of the Himalayas from there. For those who enjoy the cold, hiking in winter is an excellent option.
  • If you plan to take a vacation around September, October, or November, please note that these are the busiest months. Make sure that you book your tour and accommodation in advance.
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The Climate of Bhutan

Bhutan has a varied climate due to the vast differences in altitude across the country and the effects of the monsoon.

In the southern foothills near the India border, the elevation is as low as 200 m. In the north, near the eastern Himalayas, the altitude is more than 7,000 m (23,000 ft). You will find that for every 1,000 m (3,280 ft) increase in altitude, the temperature drops by about 7°C (45°F).

For about six months, from June to late September, Bhutan experiences heavy rainfall. After the monsoon, from late September to November, the higher altitudes experience clear skies, and sometimes, even early snow.

Northern Bhutan, the Himalayan region, can ger very cold and experience frost. Winters are chilly, and the temperature at night often reaches below freezing point (0°C or 32°F). The average temperature ranges from 5°C (41°F) to 20°C (68°F) throughout the year.

In the southern region, such as in Gelephu, temperatures vary between 15–30°C (59–86°F). The climate is subtropical, with hot and humid conditions that remain unchanged throughout the year.

There are many valleys in Central Bua, and the climate varies between dry summers and cold winters. The average temperature ranges between 11–24°C (52–75°F). There are temperate and deciduous forests there, a stable climate throughout the year, and soil that is ideal for paddy cultivation. So, most of the population lives in Central Bhutan.

Seasons in Bhutan

Bhutan has an incredibly diverse climate due to its geographical location and vast variations in altitude. The country has distinct seasons — spring, summer, monsoon, fall, and winter. Spring in Bhutan is relatively short and dry, starting in early March and continuing up to mid-April, when the summer rains commence.

The long summer season begins in mid-April and lasts until late June. You can expect occasional showers during this time. The Indian sme monsoon, which starts in late June and continues till late September, mainly affects only the southern part of Bhutan, close to the Indian border.

The fall season begins in late September and lasts till late November. It is characterized by clear weather and some early snowfall at higher elevations. Wne sets in late in November and continues till March. During the winter, there is frost in most parts of the country, and it snows at altitudes above 3,000 m (9,800 ft).

Visiting Bhutan in Spring: March to May

The March to May quarter is the spring season, and it is the best time to visit Bhutan. The landscape is beautiful, with lush green fields, verdant mountain slopes, and blooming valleys. It is also considered the peak season because the weather is pleasant and the climate is reasonably dry.

Spring Weather

  • Average temperature: 2–26°C (36–79°F)
  • Average rainfall: 50–150 mm (2–6 in)
  • Average daily sunshine hours: 10 hours

 

Spring is the driest season in Bhutan. The southern region experiences a subtropical climate, with hot days and pleasant, cool nights, especially in places like Thimphu, Bumthang, and the Paro Valley. Expect some summer showers at the end of the season, especially around May.

What to See

Bhutan is exceptionally beautiful in spring, so you can explore the different regions to your heart’s content. It is the best time to visit Thimphu,Paro,Bumthang Vle,Punakha,and Wangdue Phodrang for their bright blue skies during the day and brisk, fresh air during the chilly nights.

Spring is also the best time for high-altitude hiking enthusiasts to visit. Plan a trek in Jhomolhari or Druk Path. Rhododendrons and wildflowers bloom along trekking trails, and you are likely to see wildlife emerging from hibernation after a long, cold, and relentless winter.

Festivals

  • Punakha Drubchen (Punakha Dzong): This is one of the oldest festivals in Bhutan and is usually held at the beginning of March. It is a glorious celebration of the country’s victory over the invading Tibetan army. You can listen to Buddhist sermons by monks and enjoy traditional dance performances and rituals.
  • Paro Tshechu (Paro): This is a religious dance festival. The celebrations take place in early April. The world’s biggest thangka (Tibetan–Buddhist painting) is unfurled, and mask dances are performed in the courtyard of Rinpung Dzong. Marvel at the spectacular display of ancient traditions, colors, and Tantric Buddhist rituals.
  • Gomphu Kora (Trashigang): This is a religious festival celebrated in early April. The word gomphu means “meditation cave,” and kora means “circumambulation.” During the festival, devotees visit the Gomphu Kora cave temple to worship and connect with their past. The highlight of the festival is the unfurling of the sacred 350-year-old scroll for public viewing.

Asia Highlights Tips

  • Bhutan welcomes large groups of tourists in spring, and travel tickets are generally sold out quite early. Do plan in advance if you intend to visit during this spring.
  •  The “minimum daily package” rate set by the Bhutan Government is higher during the peak season — USD 250 per person per day.
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Visiting Bhutan in Summer: June to August

Early July marks the onset of the southeast monsoon, which lasts until early September. This is an excellent season to visit Bhutan if you don’t want to avoid crowds of tourists. Summer is the off-peak season in Bhutan due to the hot and rainy weather.

Summer Weather

You can expect high humidity and heavy rain. The mountains are engulfed by thick fog, and there are showers every two or three days, usually in the afternoons and evenings.

  • Average temperature: 13–25°C (55–77°F)
  • Average rainfall: 280–340 mm (11–13 in)
  • Average daily sunshine hours: 10 hours

 

What to See

The wet weather is not suitable for hiking, but you can go sightseeing. The valleys in Central Bhutan are still worth visiting, as this region is less rainy than the southern belt. Haa Valley and Trongsa are some attractive locations to visit during the monsoon.

With summer the land grows more fertile, and this is a great time to go mushroom picking with the locals. If you happen to visit Bhutan in the summer, make sure your itinerary includes visits to the Ura and Genekha regions.

Festivals

  • Haa Summer Festival (Haa Valley): This festival takes place in mid-July. It is a celebration of the nomadic and traditional lifestyle of the Bhutanese people. In the stunning Haa Valley, you can witness the exotic culture of the nomadic Bhutanese tribes. You are welcome to participate in social games like yak riding or in traditional dances.

Asia Highlights Tips

  • Expect frequent showers during this season. However, the rainfall varies from low to moderate and will not pose any serious threat to your trip to Bhutan.
  • Prepare for the rainy season and bring a windbreaker or raincoat.
  • Bring warm clothes, as it can get quite cold in the north.

Visiting Bhutan in Fall: September to November

Fall in Bhutan starts in September and lasts until November. It is the best time of the year for trekkers, avid travelers, and photographers to visit. The weather is good, and the skies are clear and blue. Fall is the peak season for tourism in Bhutan; a large number of travelers flock to the country to enjoy the cool and mild climate.

Fall Weather

  • Average temperature: 6–24°C (43–75°F)
  • Average rainfall: 14–210 mm (1–8 in)
  • Average daily sunshine hours: 10 hours

 

It is dry and quite warm around this time. In October, the temperature in the northern mountainous areas drops sharply, making way for snowy weather in November.

What to See

If you enjoy high-altitude hiking, fall is an excellent season to visit Bhutan. With clearer skies and lower temperatures, there is better visibility. You can plan treks to Jhomolhari, Dagala, Druk Path, and a lot more places. Trekking through varied terrains and trails is the best way to witness the natural wonders of the Land of the Thunder Dragon.

The Phobjikha Valley, regarded as the happiest place in Bhutan, is a must-visit tourist destination. The valley has gained an unparalleled reputation for a variety of reasons; the migration of the endangered black-necked crane is one of them. If you happen to visit this beautiful valley in mid-November, you can take part in the Black-Ncek Crane Festival.

Fall also marks the beginning of the harvest season. Bumthang in Bhutan has four valleys (Chokhor, Chhume, Ura, and Tang). The valleys will leave you intoxicated with their fruit gardens, paddy fields, and buckwheat fields.

Festivals

  • Thimphu Tshechu (Thimphu): This iconic festival takes place in September or October. Locals seek the blessing of god and celebrate the prosperity of the past year. During the ceremony, you can see various dance rituals, such as mask dances performed by monks, the Black Hat Dance, and the Dance of the Terrifying Deities.
  • Wangdue Phodrang Tshechu (Wangdue Phodrang): This festival is celebrated annually in mid-September. The festival is known for the Raksha Mangcham (Dance of the Ox). You can enjoy traditional dance performances, music, and the local cuisine during this festival. It concludes with the unfurling of the Guru Tshengye tapestry.
  • Jambay Lhakhang Drup (Bumthang): This is a religious and cultural festival that is held in Bumthang at the end of October. The festival pays tribute to Guru Rinpoche, a saint who is believed to have introduced the Tantric form of Buddhism in Bhutan. The celebrations also commemorate the establishment of Jambay Lhakhang, which was built in the 7th century. Among the various dance performances, the highlight is the fire ceremony, Mewang, and the religious dance, Tercham.

Asia Highlights Tips

  • 1. Hotels are usually overcrowded during this season and prices will be high. Early booking is highly suggested.
  • 2. Bring light clothes and hiking equipment if you plan to trek.
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Visiting Bhutan in Winter: December to February

December to February is the winter season in Bhutan. It can be challenging to navigate the eastern part of the country during this season due to heavy snowfall, but it is the best time to visit the western region. As it is the off-peak season in West Bhutan, hotel prices are low, and there are fewer crowds.

Winter Weather

  • Average temperature: -1–11°C (30–52°F)
  • Average rainfall: 4–21 mm (0.1–1 in)
  • Average daily sunshine hours: 9 hours

 

You can expect snow and frost, especially in January and December. The temperature in Paro and Thimphu drops below the freezing point at night. There are strong winds and there is very little rainfall in winter. However, the southern part of the country is warm and offers excellent hiking opportunities.

What to See

Paro Valley should be the first place that you visit in Bhutan in winter. The valley will be covered in a blanket of snow, making it a winter wonderland. While in Paro, don’t forget to visit the famous Tksn hkag or the Tiger’s Nest Monastery.

Royal Manas National Park is another must-see attraction for winter visitors. It is home to some rare and endangered wild animals and other exotic species that are unique to Bhutan. A wildlife safari is an excellent option for early risers.

Winter is also an ideal time for avlaevst in Thimphu or Paro. Local markets and public spaces will be crowded, and you will see locals engrossed in shopping. You should visit the Gasa Hot Springs, which will not only keep you warm but also cure you of ailments because of their medicinal properties.

Festival

  • Nomad Festival (Bumthang): This is a one-day festival usually held in the last week of February. It is an annual celebration during which nomadic people gather from all over Bhutan. During the festival, you will have a chance to meet highlanders from other parts of the country.

Asia Highlights Tips

  • 1. In East and Central Bhutan, the climate may be unfavorable due to heavy snowfall, bad roads, and daily traffic disruptions.
  • 2. Wear heavy winter clothes to stay warm in the chilly weather. Make sure you pack some essential medicines for cold, cough, and fever.

Tourist Season in Bhutan

There are two peak seasons in Bhutan: March–May and September–November. The off-peak seasons are between June–August and December–February.

Peak Season

Bhutan experiences the greatest tourist inflow in March, April, October, and November. More tourists tend to travel during these months as these are the ideal months for festivals and hiking.

If you are planning a last-minute tour, air tickets will be hard to find, and hotels and resorts will probably be fully booked. We suggest that you book your travel package and air tickets as early as possible.

The Government of Bhutan has set a “minimum daily package” price for tourists. For the peak season, the rate is set at US$250 per person per day. The package includes 3-star accommodation, all meals, a licensed Bhutanese guide, all domestic flights, a local vehicle, and camping equipment.

Off-Peak Season

Not many tourists travel to Bhutan during the winter and monsoon. There is plenty of snowfall and some thunderstorms as well. Especially in July and August, the monsoon hampers sightseeing opportunities.

If you are planning a tour during this period, air tickets may be available. However, we suggest that you book your tickets at least three months in advance, as most good hotels and guides get booked up quickly. The “minimum daily package” for the off-peak season is US$200 per person per day.

Explore Bhutan with Asia Highlights

If you want to explore Bhutan and experience its many delights, get in touch with us. We can help you navigate Bhutan’s changing seasons and assist you in picking the perfect time to visit its top attractions.

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