Wondering when is the best time to visit Bhutan? This guide will help you plan your trip based on the weather and festivals there.
Bhutan Weather and Climate
Bhutan has an extremely diverse climate. This is due to the vast variations in altitude, as well as the influence of the southwest and northeast monsoons from India. Weather patterns can be divided as follows:
- Late June to late September: the southwest monsoon brings heavy rain and high humidity to the southern border region of Bhutan.
- Late September or early October to late November: post-monsoon there are bright, sunny days and sometimes early snowfall at higher elevations.
- Late November to early March: the northeast monsoon brings gale force winds through high altitude mountain passes, giving Bhutan its name "Drukyul" -- meaning Land of the Thunder Dragon. Winter also sets in, with frost throughout much of the country and snowfall often above 3,000 meters. December and January are the coldest months in Bhutan, with overnight temperatures dropping below zero in Paro, Thimphu, and Bumthang.
- Early March to mid April: spring is generally dry and pleasant.
- Mid April to late June: summer produces occasional showers and maximum temperatures of around 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit).
High and Low Season Rates
Passport holders of countries other than India, Bangladesh and the Maldives must visit Bhutan on a guided tour. The government has set "Minimum Daily Package" rates for all tours. These rates differ according to high and low seasons as follows:
- High Season: March, April, May, September, October, and November
- Low Season: January, February, June, July, August, and December
Read More: How to Visit Bhutan.
Festivals in Bhutan
Many tourists visit Bhutan to experience the country's fascinating festivals. A comprehensive listing of festival dates for 2017 can be downloaded here from the Tourism Council of Bhutan website.
The Tshechu festivals, held in temples, monasteries and dzongs (fortresses) all over Bhutan, are a highlight. Communities come together to witness religious mask dances, receive blessings, and socialize at these grand events. Each mask dance has a special meaning behind it, and it's believed that everyone must attend a Tshechu and see the dances at least once in their lifetime to dissolve their sins.
Some important festivals in Bhutan, and their dates, are as follows:
- Thimphu Tshechu (September 25-29, 2017): This is one of the biggest festivals in Bhutan and people travel from all over the country to see it. It takes place at Tashichho Dzong in Thimphu. Days and nights of prayer and rituals are undertaken to invoke the gods before the festival.
- Paro Tshechu (April 7-11, 2017): Held every spring at Rinpung Dzong, this is one of the most colorful and significant events in the Paro district. Early in the morning on the last day of the celebration, the monks display a gigantic thangkha (painting) inside the dzong.
- Jambay Lhakhang Tshechu (November 4-6, 2017): Jambay Lhakhang, in Bumthang, is one of the oldest temples in the kingdom. The feature of this festival is an unusual fire ritual with naked dance at midnight.
- Punakha Drubehen and Tshechu (March 2-6, 2017): At picturesque Punakha Dzong, the Punakha Drubchen hosts a dramatic recreation of the scene from Bhutan's 17th century battle with the Tibetan army, who came to seize a precious relic.
- Wangdue Tshechu (September 28-30, 2017): This Tshechu is known for the Raksha Mangcham, the Dance of the Ox. It concludes with the unfurling of the great Guru Tshengye Thongdrol thangkha.
- Tamzhing Phala Choetpa (September 30-October 2, 2016): Celebrated at Tamzhing Lhakhang in Bumthang, this festival has some rare mask dances unique to the monastery.
- Ura Yakchoe (May 6-10, 2017): The Ura Valley in Bumthang is renowned for its Ura Yakchoe dance, performed at this festival. During the festival a sacred and important relic, passed on from generation to generation, is put on display so that people can receive blessings from it.
- Kurjey Tshechu (July 3, 2017): The festival takes place at Kurjey Lhakhang, in Bumthang's Chokhor Valley. Apparently Guru Rimpoche (who introduced Buddhism to Bhutan) meditated there, and left an imprint of his body on a rock inside the temple.
Also of note is the Nomad Festival in Bumthang (February 23, 2017). This unique festival brings together the herders of the northeastern and northwestern Himalayan frontiers in an unforgettable celebration of their culture and traditions.