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Best time to visit Bhutan

Discussion in 'Bhutan' started by RickTomar, Nov 10, 2016.

  1. RickTomar

    RickTomar New Member

    I want to plan a holiday to Bhutan and would like to know when the ideal time to visit would be. I have absolutely no idea about the culture, weather there. Any information which I would learn would be from this forum, and the first thing I need to know is the best time to visit Bhutan.

    I would prefer is the weather was pleasant, but it is not an issue as I dont want to be going there when it is not peak season or as they say the tourist time to visit.

  2. briannagodess

    briannagodess Well-Known Member

    Hi there, welcome to the forum!

    Overview of Climatic Regions of Bhutan

    Just like India, Bhutan has varied climates, depending on the region that you visit. We can divide the country into three climatic regions, namely: Northern, Central and Southern. To clearly depict these regions, you can view the map below which highlights the different areas of Bhutan and how they vary when it comes to climatic conditions.

    Climatic Regions of Bhutan (Image Courtesy of Wikimedia)
    The Northern Region of Bhutan includes Laya, Thanza and Gasa. This region has an alpine climate, almost all-year round. The Western Central Region of Bhutan includes Thimphu, Paro and Damthang. This region has a cool and temperate climate, most of the time. And lastly, the Eastern Southern Region of Bhutan includes the border areas of Phuentsholing, Gelephu and Samdrup Jongkhar. This region has a humid subtropical climate almost all-year round.

    For Indian nationals, there is no required visa to enter Bhutan but you can obtain an entry permit from the different border points in the country. However, only two places are allowed to be accessed when you have this permit, Thimphu and Paro. Beyond these places, you need to obtain a special permit in Thimphu. So in this guide, the focus would mainly be in the Central
    Region but there would still be some information about the other regions, in case you would like to visit them.

    In-Depth Discussion of Climatic Regions in Bhutan (Plus Best Time to Visit!)

    Western Central Region of Bhutan

    As mentioned above, the Western Central
    Region of Bhutan includes the cities of Thimphu and Paro. This is the region that has pleasant climate all-year round so you can visit it any time of the year. However, monsoon season is particularly challenging here as we will discuss in the succeeding sections.

    1. Winter Season
    • The winter season extends from December to February. Day time temperatures are between 11°C to 15°C while night time temperatures can go as low as 5°C to 8°C. The coldest month is January with temperatures reaching below zero degree. In the higher altitude areas, snowfall is common as well. Snowfall is also a possibility in Thimphu or Paro, but the chances are not that high as compared to higher altitude areas like Chalela Pass. This is one of the off-peak seasons in Bhutan though so you can enjoy the serenity and quietness in many parts of the country. Do bring your heavy woollens though as the nights can get especially chilling. Sightseeing is very possible during this season but trekking might be challenging.
    • The Dochula Tshechu is celebrated during the month of December. It is a festival dedicated to the victory of the Fourth Druk Gyalpo and the Royal Armed Forces against the invaders. As such, the festival gives tribute to the king in terms of cultural dances and performances, by none other than the Royal Armed Forces. There are also other festivals celebrated during this season like the Punakha Drubchen, a celebration of the victory of the Royal Army against the Tibetans, and the Punakha Tsechu, a tribute to the Guru Rimpoche.
    2. Spring Season
    • The spring season extends from March to May. Temperatures during this time reach the 25°C mark especially during the month of May. Nights are a bit cooler though with temperatures reaching 15°C or lesser. This is actually the peak tourist season in the Central Region simply because everything is blooming during this time, most especially the flowers around the region. As such, hotels can get fully booked easily and more so the flights, since there aren't too many flights outside of the country to Bhutan. You can get away with light cotton clothes but do bring light woollens for night time temperatures are lower. Sightseeing, trekking and nature trailing are all possible during this season.
    • The Paro Tsechu is held during the month of March as well. It is a very colourful festival, showcasing the rich heritage of the country. Masked performances are done along with other cultural performances. Other festivals held during the month of April are the Domkhar Tsechu and Rhododendron Tsechu. The Domkhar Tsechu is a festival for the birth date of Guru Rinpoche and masked performances are also showcased here. The Rhododendron Tsechu showcases the blooming of the beautiful flowers in the Lamperi Botanical Garden, plus games and other shows are also done during this time.
    Paro Tsechu (Image Courtesy of Shiva Travels)

    3. Monsoon Season
    • The monsoon season extends from June to September. The temperatures are at the highest during this time, between 20°C to 28°C. While temperatures are high, the region receives quite plenty of rainfall too. The rainfalls aren't that extensive though nor long in duration. You can enjoy the lush greenery enveloping the region during this time. But be prepared as well for moderate to heavy rainfalls, which mostly occur in the late afternoons. Sightseeing is possible but do try to visit mainly museums or indoor attractions. Bring your umbrella and raincoat as well because you never know when the rain will come.
    • In the Bumthang region, two festivals are held consecutively during the month of June. The Nimalung Tsechu is their harvest festival and masked dances are showcased during this festival. On the other hand, the Kurjhey Tsechu is held in the monastery and the monks perform cultural shows for both local and foreign guests.
    4. Autumn Season
    • The autumn season extends from October to November. Temperatures start to drop again during this time, reaching the 22°C mark. Fall is another peak tourist season in the region. Since the monsoon season just ended, the region is teeming with greenery and natural beauty. You can do all sorts of activities during this time, wildlife spotting, trekking, nature trailing and also sightseeing. However, book your air tickets and hotel rooms in advance as they are likely to be fully booked even before the autumn season approaches.
    • The most famous and lively festival of Thimphu is held during the month of October. The Thimphu Tsechu, a tribute to Guru Rinpoche, is a very vibrant and enjoyable festival, complete with masked dances and performances by the monks. The Black Necked Crane Festival is also held during the month of November. The main aim of the festival is the spread information about the necessary conservation of the endangered black necked crane.
    Northern Region of Bhutan

    The Northern Region of Bhutan has the most extreme cold temperatures especially around the high Himalayan region.

    1. Winter Season
    • The winter season extends from December to February. During this season, temperatures go beyond zero degrees and snowfall occurs in most areas of the region. The high Himalayan region receives snowfall too, almost too excessively. February is the coldest month with temperatures reaching -10°C. While it can be very dangerous to visit the higher altitude areas due to road blocks and landslides, you can enjoy viewing the snow-capped mountains from a distance. Sightseeing during this time in this region can be quite tricky too but you are sure to find discounts in hotels.
    2. Spring Season
    • The spring season extends from March to May. Temperatures barely reach the 15°C mark during this season. Sometimes, it can even go as low as below zero degree. The high Himalayan region still has thick blankets of snow this time despite it being spring. The lower regions have more acceptable temperatures and landscapes that are more varied. It's still not advisable to indulge in any trekking during this time to the high mountains of the region since landslides can still occur.
    3. Monsoon Season
    • The monsoon season extends from June to September. Temperatures are the highest during this season and can reach the 17°C mark. Rainfall is highest during the months of July and August. But in comparison to the other regions, the rainfall in the Northern Region is considerable less at just 500 mm per year, which mainly happens during the monsoon season. While it might be challenging to indulge in trekking, especially as landslides and road blocks can occur, the region has some greenery especially in the lower areas. Yet the higher areas remain covered with alpine tundra vegetation.
    4. Autumn Season
    • The autumn season extends from October to November. Temperatures start to fall again during this time but are still pretty bearable at 12°C. If you're into adventure, you can definitely try trekking around the region at this time. Make sure that you bring some thick woollens with you though as night time temperatures can get very chilly. You can also visit the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Park during this season or maybe visit the numerous villages around the region.
    Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Park (Image Courtesy of Jungle Key)

    Eastern Southern Region of Bhutan

    The Eastern Southern Region of Bhutan includes Zemghang and Trongsa, along with the border cities with India. This region has the most tropical climate, meaning that the temperatures here are higher than the rest of the country.

    1. Winter Season
    • The winter season extends from December to February. Temperatures range between 15°C to 20°C but it can also go higher or lower than this range. Since the Southern Region of Bhutan has varied landscapes ranging from forests, mountains and even waterfalls, you can enjoy sightseeing during this season.
    • Zhemgang is particularly perfect for this season as it is a virgin region. You can indulge in trekking as the climate would be pleasant enough for that. Enjoy places where not much travellers have even reached as the region was just opened recently for tourism. To combat the cold climate, visit the Duenmang Tshachu or Duenmang Hot Springs, close to the Mangde Chu River in Zhemgang.
    • The Ngangla Choedpa is also celebrated during the month of December in Zhemgang. It is a Bon Festival, quite rare to witness in the country. During this festival, ritualistic offerings are done to appease the deities. It is also marked with colourful masked dances and other cultural performances.
    2. Spring Season
    • The spring season extends from March to May. Temperatures range between 21°C to 27°C during this season. It is mildly warm but still pleasant enough for sightseeing. The best places to visit during this season are the Phibso Wildlife Sanctuary and the Royal Manas National Park. The warmer temperatures make for spotting animals more easily. Make sure you reach the watering holes where animals frequent during the peak of the spring season.
    • During March, the Gomphu Kora Tsechu is held as well. This festival is celebrated as a tribute to the victory of good over evil. The venue is the rock cut cave and temple of Gomphu Kora, about 23 kilometres from Trashigang. The festival is held over a few days, complete with vibrant costumes and masked performances.
    3. Monsoon Season
    • The monsoon season extends from June to September. Temperatures remain roughly the same during this season but the rainfalls are quite harsh. The Southern Region actually receives the most rainfall out of the three regions in Bhutan. It is not the best time to visit the region, as sudden heavy rainfalls can delay and postpone your schedules. On the other hand, hotel rates and crowds are lesser during this time. If you would like to enjoy the beauty of the region at your own pace, then the monsoon might work well with you. Plus, this is the best time for white water rafting in the Mangde Chu River.
    Mangde Chu River (Image Courtesy of Bhutan Travel Routers)

    4. Autumn Season
    • The autumn season extends from October to November. Temperatures remain the same but start get lower by the middle of November. This is another good time to visit the region. Unlike the Western Central Region, the Eastern Southern Region receives less tourists so even if this can be considered as the peak tourist season, there's not as many throngs of crowds here. Sightseeing and trekking are the best activities during this time. Some waterfalls also line the region, make sure to visit them as they are most beautiful post-monsoon.
    As you can see, the different seasons in the different regions of Bhutan have something to offer for travellers. Whether you enjoy festivals, lush greenery or remote destinations, Bhutan has some place in store for you. I hope this helps you!