Dreaming of visiting Bhutan but want to understand its climate better before making a commitment and planning a trip? Here’s everything you need to know about the weather in Bhutan, amazing Bhutanese festivals, and the best season to visit this tiny Himalayan kingdom.
While most of Bhutan is hilly or mountainous, there are big differences in altitude. The southern parts of the country, like the jungles bordering India, are very low, not much above sea level. The popular attraction of Punakha (with its incredible dzong) is at just 1,242 metres. On the other hand, the lovely town of Haa is 3,000 metres in altitude.
Bhutan’s festivals are colourful and vibrant affairs, and a huge attraction for international visitors. Coinciding a trip to Bhutan with a festival is a great idea, but some of the liveliest and most interesting are also held when the weather is still very wet. Travellers who want the best of Bhutan’s weather and a memorable festival experience may need to compromise on one or the other.
Spring in Bhutan falls between March and May. As they do all across the Himalaya, bright red, pink, purple, and white rhododendron flowers bloom vividly in the mountains and are a delightful sight for trekkers. There’s even a trek designed especially to allow trekkers to enjoy the beautiful flowers: the Gazamchu Rhododendron Trek.
April is one of the busiest times for travellers to come to Bhutan, as the temperatures are usually warm, but can still be very cold in certain parts of the country. Mountain views during late spring in Bhutan can be obscured by rain clouds and humidity, as the monsoon rains approach.
Bhutan festivals in spring:
Rhododendron Festival, Lamperi
Bumthang Valley village festivals
While the wet summer months aren’t an ideal time to visit Bhutan, there are a few plus-points. The wildflowers in the mountains are spectacular, plus there’s an abundance of delicious foods like mushrooms, mangoes, and avocados. It doesn’t always rain constantly for the whole day, so general touring holidays can still be done at this time. Plus, as it’s low season, prices are lower, including at the country’s gorgeous boutique and luxury hotels.
However, it’s important to realise that Bhutan gets more rainfall than anywhere else in the Himalaya. A major (and serious) downside is that flights into and out of Paro are often cancelled or delayed due to rain.
Bhutan festivals in summer:
Alpine Festival, Haa
Mushroom Festival, Ura
Early autumn in Bhutan (September) can still be wet, but after the rains, skies clear for the most spectacular mountain views. October is the busiest, most popular month to visit Bhutan as the conditions are at their best: temperatures are warm and mountain views are good, ideal for trekking or general touring. Spectacular longer treks like the Jomohhari trek, Druk Path trek, or Laya Gasa trek are best in this season. October is also one of the best months to visit neighbouring Nepal, so a combined trip to Bhutan and Nepal is a great idea in this month. While the temperatures in November in Bhutan can drop, especially at night, it’s still a good month to visit.
Bhutan festivals in autumn:
Black-necked Crane Festival
Royal Highland Festival
Winter is the low season in Bhutan, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad time to go. December is an ideal time for touring western Bhutan, but some of the roads to the east will be closed by snow on high passes at this time. By February, temperatures are still cold in Paro and Bumthang, but warmer in the lowlands and in the east. Nature lovers can try to spot tigers, rhinos, elephants and leopards at the Manas National Park, which sits at just 60-100 metres above sea level. The Punakha Winter Trek can also be done when the weather is colder, as it doesn’t go too high but still includes a wealth of natural and cultural variety.
Bhutan festivals in winter:
Nomad’s Festival, Bumthang
Takin Festival, Gasa