Best Time and Season to Visit Bhutan: Complete Guide
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- TATA AIG Team
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As one of the few countries that share the same border with India, Bhutan is a prime vacation spot for many Indian travellers and the perfect place to soak up some culture. Its glorious snow-capped mountains, lush terrains, and picturesque villages paint this eastern Himalayan kingdom as a mythical paradise.
However, if this is your first time visiting Bhutan, knowing where to start can be challenging. Bhutan's 'high-value, low-impact' tourism culture requires you to carefully plan your trip as it limits the number of visitors that can enter the country at a given time.
In this blog, we will discuss the best time to travel to Bhutan, the best seasons and months, the places you can visit, and the country's climate. We have also provided a table at the end, compiling all this information for a quick glance. So read on to find out the best time to go to Bhutan!
When Is The Best Time To Visit Bhutan From India?
According to most travellers, October is the best time to visit Bhutan. This is further exemplified by the country receiving about 75% of its international travellers during this month. The Spring season (March to May) and the Autumn season (September to November) are also considered peak seasons for travellers.
The mildly warm temperature and drier weather where the air is fresh and clear with sunny skies make it favourable for most international travellers. Moreover, the country hosts various festivals like Paro and Punakha Tshechu in Spring and the Thimphu Tshechu, the country's biggest festival held at the capital in Autumn.
Here is a simple breakdown of the best time to travel to Bhutan for various scenarios:
For the Best Climate: As stated, it would be October. If you plan on visiting during this month, ensure that you book your tickets at least three months in advance, as Bhutan only allows for a certain number of visitors at a time.
For the Best Climate But Want to Avoid Crowds: If you still want to enjoy the country's pristine weather but want to avoid the crowds, we recommend visiting during May or November.
Most Affordable Time: If you are on a budget and want to save as much as possible during your trip, consider travelling in June or December. You can enjoy low-season prices while still having favourable weather.
For an In-Depth Culture-Themed Trip: If you want to explore Bhutan's traditional arts, such as painting, carpentry, weaving and papermaking or experience the Bhutanese living philosophy, any time of the year can be appropriate, even Bhutan's rainy season.
You can also visit during the off-season to enjoy the lowest prices and get the most value for your money during your trip.
The Best Months to Visit Bhutan
Due to its location, Bhutan's weather has its own climatic features affected by its altitudes and terrains. It is also incredibly diverse having four seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn and winter.
The best months to visit Bhutan lie in either spring or autumn, with the winter and summer months following as close seconds. Here is a more detailed description of all four seasons.
Spring: March, April, May
While Spring is fairly short, nature lovers keen on exploring the country's local flora should consider visiting during this season. Temperatures during these months are mild, hovering around 16°C in the valleys, and the melting snow gives you a breathtaking view of the wildflowers that cover the hillsides.
The mountain regions remain cold, staying at 3°C or lower. Still, the clear skies, and low humidity and rainfall give you a spectacular view of the Himalayas at high elevations.
Spring is also the best season to visit Bhutan to go on popular treks.
|Months||March, April, May|
|Recommended Activities||Jacaranda blossom viewing at Punakha Dzong in mid-May Jomolhari Trek and Drukpath Trek from mid-April till end-May|
|Festivals||Gomkora Festival at Trashigang in April (lasts 3 days) Paro Tsechu in April (lasts 5 days) Ura Yakchoe at Bumthang's Ura Valley in May|
|Additional Information||The Paro Tsechu is the best way to meet the king of Bhutan. He often visits the festivities between the 3rd and last days. Since this is a popular festival, Paro will be teeming with travellers. Hotels and services may be overwhelmed, with better hotels and guides being fully booked, so plan ahead.|
Summer: June, July, August, Mid-September
Summer begins in mid-April and continues through mid-September. It is also Bhutan's rainy season when the country experiences its annual monsoon sweeping up from India. So when visiting, bring a raincoat!
Rainfall is usually heaviest from late June onwards and can be felt most in the South. There is also a risk of flash floods which can affect domestic flights, rural communities, and road travel. Something to remember if you are travelling within this region of the country.
However, the country is not always overcast with stormy clouds this season. Rainfall usually occurs in the afternoons and evenings, once every two or three days, leaving your mornings free for sightseeing. Moreover, rainy days also present the perfect opportunity for a spa retreat.
The temperature is usually from 24°C - 25°C in the valleys and reaches a maximum of 31.5°C in the eastern parts of the country, with highs of around 26°C in Thimphu.
|Months||June, July, August, mid-September|
|Recommended Activities||Drukair Annual Golf Tournament in mid-August. Kurjey Tshechu, in late June, celebrates very important holy sites of Guru Rinpoche.|
|Festivals||Nimalung Tshechu in June at Bumthang's Chokhor valley. Haa Summer Festival|
|Additional Information||Though dubbed monsoon, the country does not experience severe rainfall like other South Asian countries during monsoon. Bhutan experiences relatively light rain and does not affect most travellers' itineraries.|
Autumn/Fall: September, October, November
Autumn brings with it the country's peak season for travellers to enjoy the cool, mild climate after the rainy season. It is hands-down the best time to visit Bhutan from India. ' Temperatures average around 25°C in September and can fall to 10°C by the end of November in the valley areas. Making it the perfect time to pursue treks and hikes.
The mountainous regions stay cold throughout, with temperatures dropping to negatives by the end of November. Autumn is also the best season to visit Bhutan, as the country celebrates most of its festivals during this time.
|Months||September, October, November|
|Recommended Activities||Trekking in Bhutan (October to November) Adventure sports and other outdoor activities|
|Festivals||Thimphu Tshechu at Thimphu Black-Necked Crane Festival at Phobjikha Valley Wangdi Tshechu held in Wangdue Phodrang Black-Necked Crane Festival at Phobjikha Valley Jambay Lhakhang Drup held in Jambay Lhakhang Temple, in Bumthang Prakar Tshechu held in Bumthang|
|Additional Information||Like the Paro Teshcu, hotels and services in Thimphu will often be fully booked during this time, so get your accommodations and activities pre-booked before your visit.|
*Winter: December, January, February *
December to February are the coldest months in Bhutan, with temperatures reaching 0°C in Paro, Thimphu, and Bumthang, and the mountainous regions are frigid with constant snow. In January, temperatures hit their lowest, with Paro and Thimphu experiencing mild snowfall.
However, the valleys do not witness subzero temperatures and will still be bright and sunny with beautiful clear skies. This is also the best time to witness Bhutan's magnificent black-necked cranes migrating from the Phobjikha Valley.
|Months||December, January, February|
|Additional Information||In case of heavy snow, some roads in eastern and central Bhutan may be blocked or impassable|
The Best Season to Visit Bhutan
Peak season: March to May and September to November
The peak season guarantees the most festivals to look forward to and is the best season to visit Bhutan if you want to experience everything Bhutan has to offer.
However, it is also the most crowded around this time, with fully booked hotels and services. Planning and pre-booking your accommodations and services months in advance is essential.
For this reason, the Bhutan government offers a 'Minimum Daily Package' rate for tours which vary in price depending on the season. For Indians travelling to Bhutan, the minimum daily package of 3 individuals is $250 per person per night during peak season.
The package includes 3-star accommodation, all meals, a licensed Bhutanese tour guide, all internal transportation, including air travel within the country and camping equipment and supplies for trekkers.
Offseason and Bhutan's Rainy Season: June to August and December to February
The rainy season and the offseason during winter is the best time to go to Bhutan if you want to avoid the crowds and enjoy low travel fares. The minimum daily package for January, February, June, July, August and December is around $200 instead of the usual $250 during peak seasons.
Remember to dress in layers if you visit during the winter months (December to February) and pack a raincoat and umbrella during Bhutan's rainy season (June to August).
The winter months are especially great for sightseeing as Bhutan's winters are often sunny and cool. Moreover, there are still plenty of festivals to attend during this time, and the weather is also perfect for hiking.
You should note that the weather will depend on where you are staying in Bhutan as the temperature varies with the altitude, so always keep a jacket handy and bring a pair of sunglasses as the sunlight can be glaring during your hikes.
Lastly, Bhutan's rainy season is best for indoor activities, so this may be a good time to plan for cultural trips involving many museum visits or a spa retreat. If you want to avoid the high costs and the cold in one go, visiting Bhutan in early June is recommended.
Places to Visit in Bhutan in October
|Festivals To Attend In October||Places To Visit In Bhutan In October||Trekking Options In October|
|Thimphu Tshechu, Thimphu||Lhuentse and Mongar||Punakha Winter Trek|
|Jomolhari Mountain Festival, base of Mt. Jomolhari, Paro District||Rinpung Dzong, Paro||Jomolhari Trek|
|Chele La, Paro||Druk Path Trek|
|Thangbi Mani Festival, Chhoekhor Gewog in Bumthang||Amo Chuu Crocodile Breeding Center, Phuentsholing||Bumthang Owl Trek|
|Jambay Lhakhang Drup Tsechu, Bumthang|
|Pema Lingpa, Bumthang|
|Gangtey Tsechu, in Gangtey Goenpa monastery, Phobjikha Valley||Gangtey Monastery, Phobjikha Valley||Phobjikha Valley Trek|
|Wangdue Tsechu, Wangduephodrang||Wangduephodrang Dzong||Thousand Lakes Trek|
|Royal Highlander Festival, Laya, Gasa||Haa Valley||Snowman Trek|
October is the ideal time to visit if you plan to trek in Bhutan, as it provides the best weather conditions for mountain walks and overnight stays in teahouses. Trekking season only lasts until the end of November, so getting your permit months prior is best.
Some other popular places to visit in Bhutan in October include Bumthang, Wangdue Phodrang, Gelephu, Trashigang, Trongsa and many more. The best towns to visit in Bhutan in October are:
Thimphu: The country's capital city, which celebrates the Thimphu festival in October. It is a great place to buy handcrafted items and hosts many trade fairs and exhibitions. However, avoid buying antiques. It is illegal, and you may face serious charges if caught.
Paro: The best place to visit for activities like trekking, fresh weather water sports, religious sites, rich culture and vibrant festivals. Rinpung Dzong Monastery and Chele La are this region's most popular places to visit in October.
Paro is also the only town that has an international airport, so it is advised that you plan your trip well in advance to avoid hiked prices.
An Overview of the Best Time to Travel to Bhutan
|Season||Months||Climate||Best For||Cost Per Night Per Person|
|Peak Season||March to May||Spring||$ 250 (Approx. ₹20,527)|
|September to November||Autumn/Fall|
|Off-Season||June to August||Bhutan’s Rainy Season||$ 200 (Approx. ₹16,421)|
|December to February||Winter|
A visit to Bhutan offers stunning valleys, a scenic view of the Himalayas, ancient monasteries, colourful festivals and memorable trekking and hiking trails. Whether you visit Bhutan during its peak season for festivals or during the off-season to save on expenses, you will enjoy your trip regardless. Simply put, any time is the best time to travel to Bhutan!
About Tata AIG
The Ministry of External Affairs requires tourists to have a travel insurance plan when travelling to Bhutan. So before you book your tickets to Bhutan, consider buying a travel insurance policy from us at Tata AIG. This ensures that you are insured during your trip in case of emergencies or mishaps.
Our overseas travel insurance plans also allow you to claim your travel insurance policy through our website, ensuring a quick and easy claims process. This way, you are reimbursed for your troubles and have access to our facilities anywhere during your trip.
How can I get to Bhutan from India?
You can get to Bhutan from India by either flight, rail or road.
For air travel, flying to Paro International Airport is the fastest way to travel but also the most expensive. Prices start from ₹11,000 for a single flight from Delhi or from around ₹5,500 for an economy flight from Bagdogra.
Trains are by far the most affordable way to reach Bhutan, and Hasimara in West Bengal is the closest railway station to Jaigaon, the Indian border town on the Indo-Bhutan border. Trains regularly run to Hasimara from Delhi, Kolkata, and Kanpur with minimal connections and changes.
You can also drive to Bhutan but need a permit to do so. The permit can be obtained from the RTO in Phuentsholing after crossing the border, costing ₹200.
Lastly, there is a daily bus service that runs to Phuentsholing from Kolkata. It is set up by the Royal Bhutanese Government, with the journey taking around 18 hours.
Do Indians need a visa to travel to Bhutan?
Indian nationals do not require a visa to travel to Bhutan. However, they will be issued an entry permit. This 'Entry Permit' is issued by the Department of Immigration in the Pedestrian Terminal at Phuentsholing on the basis of a valid Travel Document.
What documents do I need to travel to Bhutan?
Indian nationals travelling to Bhutan must carry the following documents:
Their original Indian passport (minimum six-month validity) or Original Voter ID card.
For children below 18 years, their Original birth certificate (in English) or passport. A legal guardian must accompany them.
2 passport-size photographs.
A travel insurance plan to cover the duration of their trip. They also have the option to purchase travel insurance from a Bhutanese insurance provider at the Pedestrian Terminal at Phuentsholing.
Do Indian tourists have to pay Sustainable Development Fees when visiting Bhutan?
Indian tourists must pay a Sustainable Development Fee (SDF) of ₹1,200 per person per night. Children aged 5 years and below are exempt, and children between 6 - 12 years are given a 50% concession on their SDFs.
Is Indian currency accepted in Bhutan?
Yes, Indian currency can be used freely throughout Bhutan up to denominations of ₹500. There are no coins, and since Bhutan is a cash economy, you can expect to be handed wads of cash on all monetary transactions.
Is a tour guide compulsory when visiting Bhutan?
No, Indian nationals can travel to Bhutan Without guide restrictions as tourists. However, it is recommended that you opt for a government-approved tour operator if it is your first time travelling. You can find a list of them on the official Bhutan Travel website.
How many days are sufficient to visit Bhutan?
To make the most of your trip, you will need at least 5 days. This lets you witness the best sights and experience peak or off-season festivals.
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