Planning a trip to beautiful Bhutan? I highly recommend visiting this magical Asian country. It offers a fascinating history, beautiful landscapes for trekking, friendly people, charming customs, fantastic boutique hotels and much more.
But what are the best times to visit Bhutan? There is no straightforward answer to this question, as it will depend on your itinerary. This article should provide all the information you need to choose the best time for your perfect visit to Bhutan.
Best times to visit Bhutan
Table of Contents
- Best times to visit Bhutan
- July to Mid September
- Mid-September to Mid October
- Mid-October to Mid November
- Mid-November to the end of December
- How to Travel around Bhutan
- How to Travel to Bhutan
- Where to Stay in Bhutan
- Bhutan Spirit Sanctuary Hotel – Paro
- Zhiwaling Ascent – Thimpu
- Dhumra Farm Resort – Punakha
- MyBhutan Comfort Camp
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Is it possible to visit Bhutan in the rainy season?
- What is the weather like in Bhutan during the dry season?
- What is the weather like in Bhutan during the rainy season?
- Can I visit Bhutan during the winter months?
The best time of year to visit Bhutan will depend on the primary purpose of your trip. If you are traveling to Bhutan because you want to go trekking, then between March and May is the best time to visit. If you don’t want to trek and are interested in exploring Bhutan’s many tourist attractions and want good photos, then plan a trip between November and February.
Let’s break down the year in more detail:
January is the coldest month of the year in Bhutan and February isn’t too far behind. There may well be snowfall. However, maximum temperatures in Paro are still over 9 degrees in January and 13 degrees in February. Thimpu can reach 12 degrees in January and 14 degrees in February. But it does get cold at night when the temperatures regularly drop below freezing. This is why it is not a good idea to go trekking in Bhutan in the winter.
If you’re planning on heading to Eastern Bhutan and visiting cities like Trashigong and Mongar temperatures can reach as high as 20 degrees and won’t drop much below 8 degrees at night.
There are two major advantages to visiting Bhutan in the first two months of the year. The first is the clarity of the air and the light. If you are a passionate photographer, definitely plan on visiting Bhutan in the first or last couple of months of the year.
The second major advantage is the lack of crowds. This is a much quieter time of year to visit and allows visitors to get a better feel for Bhutan’s spiritual side in its temples and fortresses. It is difficult to meditate or take in the aura in some of these sites with large crowds.
One disadvantage of visiting this time of year is that there are none of Bhutan’s famous festivals apart from the birth anniversary of the King at the end of February. However, there are some major national holidays:
January 2 is Nyilo or “the return of the sun”. This marks the winter solstice and this is one of the most auspicious days of the year in Bhutan.
At some point in Jan/Feb (the date changes according to the Gregorian calendar), Bhutan celebrates the Traditional Day of Offering. On the Traditional Day of Offering, special offerings are made to the memory of Ngawang Namgyal, who united Bhutan under one government in the 1600s and who also united Bhutan religiously.
February 21-23 is the Birth Anniversary of His Majesty the King. This is a three-day celebration and all three days are national public holidays. The current king was born on February 12, 1980. Major festivals and parades are held during this time.
The flowers in Bhutan begin to bloom in March, bringing the beautiful countryside to colorful life. In April, Bhutan’s famous 46 rhododendron species begin to come out. However, this time of year is quite foggy and it can be difficult to see the country’s famous mountains.
This is the best time of year for trekking in Bhutan as the days are long and it isn’t so cold at night. By May, temperatures in Paro and Thimpu will be in the mid-20s.
This is the busiest and most expensive time of year to visit Bhutan.
This is a peak time of year for festivals. Festival Dates change each year, but generally, there can be up to 12 festivals over this time. April is one of the busiest months of the year for festivals in Bhutan. The major festivals of Talo Tshechu, Paro Tsechu and the Rhododendron are usually held in April. Ura Yakchoed is held in May.
The Losar, or Bhutanese New Year, is celebrated between February and March each year. Celebrations and festivals can last up to two weeks; however, the first three days tend to have the biggest events.
May 2 is the birth anniversary of the 3rd Druk Gyalpo, the third King of Bhutan. He is considered the architect of modern Bhutan and is very popular with the people. It is a national holiday. May 2 is also Teacher’s Day in Bhutan, as Gyalpo established the modern education system.
May 11 is Zhabdrung Kuchoe. This event takes place on the 10th day of the third month of the Bhutanese calendar each year and marks the day that Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal passed away at the Punakha Dzong in 1651.
June is hot and foggy and not an ideal time of year to visit Bhutan. There are no major festivals in June. June 14 is Lord Buddha’s Parinirvana. This is the day that the Buddha was conceived, born, subdued evil and gained enlightenment and attained Nirvana. The day is normally marked by visits to temples and monasteries as well as meditation.
The end of June brings the birth anniversary of Guru Rinpoche. This public holiday celebrates the birth anniversary of Padmasambhava, credited with introducing Buddhism to Bhutan.
July to Mid September
This is monsoon season and it is not advisable to visit Bhutan during this time. Over three months, half a metre of rain will fall in Thimpu. There are some festivals held during this time.
Mid-September to Mid October
This is the best time to go to Bhutan if you are planning on doing one of Bhutan’s longer treks. However, the views are often not great due to fog and it can still rain in September day and night. The rain in Bhutan tends to stop at the end of September.
October is perhaps the most popular month of the year for festivals in Bhutan. One of the biggest festivals of the year, Thimpu Tshechu, is held in the first half of October. This is also known as the National Festival of Bhutan and was created in 1670 to commemorate the birth of Guru Rinpoche.
Mid-October to Mid November
There will be minimal rain, but there is usually fog. Minimum temperatures are starting to drop, which can make trekking not as pleasant. However, this is a great time of year for festivals. Three of Bhutan’s major festivals may run over this period based on the lunar calendar.
The Royal Highland Festival is one of Bhutan’s newest festivals. It was introduced in 2016 in the Gasa district to celebrate the culture and legacy of the highland communities in Bhutan. It also provides an opportunity for visitors and the people of Bhutan, to visit the region.
Jambay Lhakang Drup is a five-day festival held at one of Bhutan’s oldest temples in Bumthang. The Black Necked Crane Festival celebrates this bird which is native to the Tibetan plateau. It is a one-day festival and has a special costumed crane dance.
Mid-November to the end of December
This is an ideal time to visit Bhutan if you are planning a cultural trip. It will be too cold for trekking, but there will be clear skies. This is a great time of year for photographers. I visited Bhutan at the end of December. I wore a t-shirt during the day, but it was cold at night. This is also when I visited Tiger’s Nest Monastery and had some terrific views.
How to Travel around Bhutan
There is quite a bit of conflicting information online regarding the “rules” around visiting Bhutan. The key reason is that major changes have happened to Bhutan’s tourism policy since Covid. I will try to break down the key points visitors need to know.
In the past, most visitors to Bhutan paid a $USD65 “tourism tax” for each day of their stay in Bhutan. This also covered basic services such as a 3-star hotel. To stay in, say a 5-star hotel, visitors would have to pay to upgrade. Neighboring countries tended to pay a lower tax or none at all. Independent travel was not allowed.
Since covid 19, the Bhutanese Government has introduced a new SDF or sustainable development fee of USD$200 a day. This must be paid by all visitors to Bhutan and does not cover any services eg visitors pay the SDF in addition to all of their other costs, such as accommodation, guides, food etc. The purpose of the new SDF is to fund local programs and prevent over-tourism.
Independent travel to Bhutan is now allowed. However, if you want to visit tourist attractions, go trekking, or explore outside Paro and Thimpu, a guide will be required. Also, the roads in Bhutan are of varying quality and can be very tricky due to the country’s mountainous terrain. I would absolutely recommend having a driver rather than doing your own driving.
A visa and travel insurance are required to visit Bhutan.
I traveled to Bhutan with the wonderful MyBhutan. MyBhutan is run by an American, Matt, who spends a good deal of time in Bhutan and locals staff the company. We had a guide and a driver for our entire stay. As I have already mentioned, I would not want to drive in Bhutan.
MyBhutan put together our itinerary and booked everything. We were able to review the itinerary ahead of the trip and provide feedback for changes, as well as ask questions on everything from the quality of the accommodation to the difficulty of the hikes. I have an allergy to spicy food. MyBhutan ensured that everywhere we ate was aware of my allergy and nothing spicy appeared on my plate.
MyBhutan did cover part of the cost of my trip to Bhutan. However, I only recommend organizations with whom I have worked that offer excellent services at fair prices and I highly recommend using MyBhutan for your trip to Bhutan.
When you book your trip with MyBhutan use the code BOUTIQUE and you’ll receive a free hot stone bath with your booking.
How to Travel to Bhutan
Fewer than ten pilots worldwide are licensed to fly in and out of Paro Airport. There are only two airlines that fly to Bhutan, Drukair and Bhutan Airlines. These airlines operate from Bangkok, Kathmandu and five cities in India (New Delhi, Kolkata, Guwahati, Gaya, and Bagdogra). However, if you fly in and out of India, you will need a visa, even if you are only in transit.
MyBhutan can book flights to and from Bhutan for you as part of their service.
Where to Stay in Bhutan
Bhutan Spirit Sanctuary Hotel – Paro
Bhutan Spirit Sanctuary Hotel is the first and only 5-star traditional spa resort in Bhutan. The hotel is laid out in a traditional Bhutanese style. Entering the hotel feels as much like arriving at a high-end monastery as it does a boutique hotel.
Get ready to drop your jaw when you enter the main building and see the two-story floor-to-ceiling windows of the Neyphu Valley. We were also invited to light butter lamps and choose our own locally-made soap for our stay.
My room was huge at 54 square meters plus an 8 square meter terrace. The rooms are simply designed with wooden floors, white walls, and wooden beams on the white ceilings. My massive bed was homed in a traditional Bhutanese structure, and I had a living area with a coach, coffee table, armchair, and table with two chairs. A small wardrobe to the side of the room took care of my case.
The bathroom had two sinks, a deep tub, a walk-in shower and a walk-in toilet. The floors were heated, and bathrobes were provided. In addition to the usual toiletries, Bhutan Spirit Sanctuary provides a toothbrush and toothpaste pills (just add water) for guests.
All rooms have coffee and tea facilities, including a large range of herbal teas. We also received some wonderful chocolates and a copy of the book, which was part of the inspiration for Bhutan Spirit Sanctuary, The Restful Mind by Gyalwa Dokhampa.
Dinner was a six-course farm-to-table in the lovely restaurant. We began with a quirky nachos amuse bouche followed by pumpkin soup. Grilled vegetables were next, and then a single ravioli. The dessert was a creamy custard tart. We washed all of this down with some Bhutanese wine, a cabernet sauvignon from Raven.
Breakfast the next morning was just as good. We received homemade pastries, bread, local cheeses and and fruit. A selection of “main” breakfast dishes are then available, from yogurt and granola to pancakes to porridge and more. I enjoyed a cheese and vegetable omelet.
All hotel guests can make use of the spa. The heated indoor swimming pool is huge and has floor-to-ceiling windows. There are two saunas, one steam room, and two jacuzzis. Free yoga and meditation classes are available and there is a fitness center.
The spa has six treatment rooms. A consultation with an in-house traditional medicine doctor is included in the room rate for all guests. The doctor can then advise you on the best treatments to suit whatever is ailing you. I had two fantastic massages at Bhutan Spirit Sanctuary that worked miracles on my tight neck and shoulders.
After trekking to Tiger’s Nest Monastery, I tried out a traditional Bhutanese hot stone bath at Bhutan Spirit Sanctuary. These baths are regularly taken by Bhutanese people throughout the year but particularly in the winter. The stones are heated and then placed in a bath to heat them. It is believed that the stones contain valuable minerals that are transferred into the water and then into the guest!
I needed to add some cold water to my hot stone bath before I was brave enough to immerse myself. But wow once I did, it felt amazing!!! I managed to stay in the hot stone bath for only 10 minutes (one hour is recommended). However, the combination of my post-trek hot stone bath and massage meant that my muscles were virtually pain-free the day after the trek to Tiger’s Nest.
Zhiwaling Ascent – Thimpu
Zhiwaling Ascent is located just outside Thimpu near the Royal Takin Preserve. Its design is very simple but beautiful. The hotel makes the most of its beautiful green location with floor-to-ceiling windows on the ground floor, large windows in the rooms and a stunning open-air attic with 360-degree views.
The rooms are big, open and airy, with polished wooden floorboards and lots of windows. The interior design is very simple, with lots of white with rich embroidered rugs. The room has been designed to focus your eye on the beautiful cypress trees outside with a small table and chairs and a lovely window seat.
The rooms also have coffee and tea-making facilities and a big-screen tv. The bathroom is big and lined with small pale grey tiles. There is a large bathtub with a shower.
Dinner consisted of four courses which included a choice of mains. We began with lentil soup, followed by a melon salad with watercress, pomegranate, bacon and sherry vinegar. I had the grilled strip loin as my main course with beet puree, potatoes, steamed broccoli, carrots and beef jus.
The dessert was a banana cake with vanilla ice cream. Zhiwaling Ascent also has a nice wine list with some reasonably priced good quality international wines.
I enjoyed dinner at Zhiwaling Ascent, but I loved breakfast! We could sit outside and feel like we were eating in a forest. Breakfast began with banana bread, muffin and a croissant with a selection of preserves. We had a choice of four juices as well as coffee or tea. Multiple hot breakfast options were available. I chose the eggs florentine, which I very much enjoyed.
There is a second Zhiwaling Ascent hotel in Paro, which is supposed to be fantastic.
Dhumra Farm Resort – Punakha
Get ready for a very windy, very basic road that will make you extra glad you have a driver in Bhutan when you head to the lovely Dhumra Farm Resort. When you arrive, you will see that the road was worth it as the views over Punakha, particularly Punakha Dzong, are breathtaking.
This small resort is run by local people who also own Dhumra farm. Although the website says it is a 3-star hotel, it felt more like a 4-star. My room was very simply decorated but had a wonderful wooden floor and ceiling. There is a lot of wood at Dhumra resort which gives it a slight ski lodge feel. This is softened through colorful rugs.
My room and its bathroom were both huge. I could have fitted two standard-sized rooms in. The room has many windows, and a window seat, as well as a chair and table, lined up next to one of the windows. Of everywhere I stayed in Bhutan this felt most like staying at someone’s home.
The property itself is beautiful, with small paths and lovely fauna. We had a tasty dinner at Dhumra, all sourced from the farm, and they had wine! A fire pit had been lit for us outside, and we were able to enjoy stunning night views of Punakha Dzong.
The highlight of my stay at Dhumra Farm Resort was breakfast. We couldn’t resist checking out the view first thing and oh my it was spectacular. Just the right amount of fog/cloud to create some ambiance against the beautiful Punakha Dzong. And Dhumra served us a delicious breakfast outside so we could enjoy the view. This was one of the highlights of my visit to Bhutan.
MyBhutan Comfort Camp
MyBhutan offers a unique glamping experience with its Comfort Camp. The location regularly changes depending on the weather and the itinerary. We experienced our comfort camp not far from Thimpu. Each sleeping tent had its own proper bed and bedside table with electricity and a bedside table and lamp. I could stand in my tent, which is always a key glamping test for me.
The comfort camp gave us a chance to experience some different elements of Bhutan. We were able to try out archery and I am delighted to say that I was much better than I expected. This was followed by traditional dancing while we sat by the fire, followed by a Bhutanese whiskey tasting. Dinner was a tasty dish of vegetables and rice.
The camp has toilet tents for your convenience but of course no further bathroom facilities. In the morning, we were taken from the comfort camp to Zhiwaling Ascent, where an early check-in had been organized so we could use the shower facilities.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it possible to visit Bhutan in the rainy season?
Yes, it is possible to visit Bhutan during the rainy season, which runs from June to September. However, the rain can make some outdoor activities, such as trekking, more difficult. The rain also makes some roads in Bhutan more difficult to access, so it’s important to plan your trip carefully if you are visiting during this time.
What is the weather like in Bhutan during the dry season?
During the dry season, the weather in Bhutan is generally dry and sunny. The temperature can range from cool to warm, depending on the time of year and the elevation of the area you visit. In lower elevations, the temperature can be quite warm, while in higher elevations, it can be quite cool.
What is the weather like in Bhutan during the rainy season?
During the rainy season, Bhutan experiences monsoon rains, which can sometimes be heavy. The weather can be cloudy and overcast, and there is a higher risk of landslides on the roads. However, the rain can also bring beautiful, lush green landscapes and make for dramatic views.
Can I visit Bhutan during the winter months?
Yes, it is possible to visit Bhutan during the winter months, which run from December to February. However, the weather can be quite cold, especially in higher elevations, and some roads and mountain passes may be closed due to snow. If you do visit Bhutan during the winter, it is important to be prepared for cold temperatures and to dress warmly.