Why October is the Best Time to Visit Bhutan

While there are good reasons to visit Bhutan at any time of year, in our experience, October is the best time to visit Bhutan. Want to find out why? Read on.

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October is autumn in Bhutan. While early autumn (September) can still be wet after the monsoon, by October the skies have generally cleared. That means you’ll be treated to beautiful Himalayan views.

October is peak season in Bhutan, so that does mean many popular tourist attractions will be at their busiest. But, we’re hardly talking Roman summer levels of busy-ness, here. Remember that travel to Bhutan is still quite restricted by the mandatory daily visa fee and package costs. And while we believe that Bhutan is a good-value destination rather than an expensive one per se, this cost does keep the number of visitors lower than in nearby Nepal, India, or Thailand, for example. So, even traveling to Bhutan in the peak season can be quieter than you might imagine.

Of course, peak tourism season in a destination is usually so for a very good reason. In October, conditions are at their best for visitors to Bhutan. As the temperatures are warm and the mountain views good, this is a great time to go trekking. Most of Bhutan is at a relatively high altitude—capital Thimphu is at 2,334 metres—so you do need to be prepared for colder conditions the further up you go. But freak weather events aside, October is a great time to do longer treks like the Jomolhari, Druk Path, or Laya Gasa treks.

If you’re not up for trekking, general touring is also great at this time. Conditions are clear and weather is good, so you’ll hardly have to worry about freezing or getting wet while out and about. While much of Bhutan’s altitude is high, some popular tourist destinations—like Punakha, with its wonderful fort—is ‘only’ at 1,242 metres. Travelers who want to enjoy a bit of warmth can definitely do this in Bhutan in October.

If you mostly want to sightsee in Bhutan but also want to do a bit of walking that isn’t quite a full-blown trek, walking holidays are an ideal option. These can be arranged in many parts of the country, but the Bumthang Valley and Central Bhutan are especially good at this time of year. As Bumthang is quite high in altitude (ranging from 2,600-4,500 metres), if you’re worried about the cold, you wouldn’t want to visit later in the year. It’s home to some of the oldest temples and monasteries in Bhutan, and is also very fertile, with gorgeous cultivated farmland and villages. It’s a perfect destination to combine easy sightseeing and some not-too-challenging walks.

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Buddhism is the dominant religion in Bhutan, and throughout the year you’ll come across lively tsechu (Buddhist festivals) somewhere in the country. But the autumn is a particularly rich time for festivals. While the dates change from year to year because they follow the lunar calendar, many of these fall in October, or late September/early November. Some festivals that are likely to fall in October include:

-     Thimphu Tsechu - 8th-10th October 2019

-      Wangdue Tsechu - 5th-7th October 2019

- Gangtey Tsechhu - 10th -13th October 2019

-       Royal Highland Festival - 23rd-24th October 2019

If you’re eager to experience one of these festivals, it’s important to book your trip to Bhutan as far in advance as possible. Hotel beds book up fast in the nearby towns around these festival times.

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Many travellers combine a trip to Bhutan with time in neighbouring Nepal, as Kathmandu is one of the few places from which it’s possible to fly to Bhutan. October is also a fabulous month to visit Nepal, after the monsoon and before the chilly winter, so if you want a two-for-one Himalayan adventure, October is the perfect time to do it.

There’s still time to plan a trip to Bhutan for October 2019! Get in touch with us at info@beyondtheclouds.org.nz to find out more.