When to travel to Bhutan?

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To anyone who wish to plan their trip to any destinations, first thing it comes to their mind is the best time for visit. Its essential as weather could make your trip interesting or worthless. Over the years, weather pattern has changed drastically and even some weather forecast sites or apps turned out to be either wrong or inaccurate. Still if you make plan your trip at a appropriate seasons, you will definitely enjoy your travel.

Bhutan has all four seasons in a year with distinct characteristics. Each seasons is marked by own colors, warmth & feel. 

March, April and May is a spring season in Bhutan with various plant and flowers blossoming in fields, valleys and mountain tops. June, July and August is monsoon. The moisture laden wind from Bay of Bengal and lowland areas from southern foothills of the country drop rains on the center valleys. The northern Himalayan mountain chains facing these heavy winds acts a natural shield or the wind-ward side. At this time of the year, although its little wet foliage become fully green and sturdy.

September, October and November are autumn. Most trees shed their leaves and hence most hills and mountains turn yellowish and dry. Its also the harvest time and you will see most of farmers in Paro, Thimphu, Punakha and Wangdue harvesting their rice fields.

December, January and February is a peak winter months in Bhutan and its very cold. Most of high altitude trek routes remain closed due to ice and snow during winter. Where as there are still few good winter or low altitude treks which are being operated.

Spring and Autumn is also a best time for seeing Tshechu festivals in Bhutan. Tsechu is a local term for festival. It’s a mask dance performance by monks in a Bhutanese Dzongs or fortresses. Other festivities also include folk songs and dances by locals and Royal Academy of Performing Arts. The Tshechu festivals are being held in every districts at different times.

Festivals in Bhutan

Here’s a summary of the best festivals in Bhutan by month:

January

Trashigang Tshechu, The 3 days annual Trashigang Tshechu is one of the biggest festivals in Eastern Bhutan.  The nomadic community of Merak and Sakteng, called the Brokpas, stand out of the crowd with their unique dress and appearance.

March

Punakha Tshechu, festival takes place in the Punakha Dzong or Fortress. This festival is a commemoration of the Bhutanese victory over the Tibetan army in the 17th century. 

Chorten Kora Festival, is set in Trashiyangtse, the Eastern most district of Bhutan. Dakpa Kora is held on the 15th day of the 3rd month corresponding to 28th February and Drukpa Kora (circumbulation by the Bhutanese) is held on the 30th day corresponding to 15th March every year.

April

Paro Tshechu,  is one of the most famous festival of Bhutan.  Monks, wearing masks which represent the deities, re-enact and replay the scenes from legendary tales and historical anecdotes.

July

Haa Festivals, the festival is mainly dedicated to the nomads of Haa Valley. The best part is that even tourists can participate in some of the fun activities like yak riding, folk dance, and food tasting.

September

Thimphu Tshechu, the most popular festival of Bhutan is the Thimphu Tshechu.  It is held in Thimphu Dzong, the capital of Bhutan. This national Tshechu is a must-not-miss as it is an accumulation of the unique textile, rich culture, and compelling religious history of Bhutan.

Black Necked-Crane festival, celebrated at the Gangtey Gompa courtyard located in the Phobjikha Valley, this festival is used as a medium to pass on a message to mankind. The motive of this festival is to create awareness on creating and protecting the endangered black necked cranes.

October

Jumolhari Mountain Festival, the festival takes place at the foothills of the heels of Mt. Jumolhari. This festival also includes a snow leopard show which aims in spreading awareness on the declining number of snow leopards.

November

Jambay Lhakhang Drup, performed at Jambay Lhakhang, an 8th century monastery, this festival spotlights several exciting dances. The fire ceremony, Mewang, is a unique dance performed under flames where crowds walk through a gate of huge fireworks as a means to drive away evil spirits.

So when to visit Bhutan?

Although Bhutan can be all year round destinations because each season has their own charm, beauty and experience. Southern and Eastern Bhutan has to be avoided during the summer months of July, August and mid-September while Western and Central Bhutan can be toured all year round. Winter months of December, January and February to be avoided for high altitude treks. Winter or low altitude treks still operational. Some may argue that monsoon is not good for treks in Bhutan but as a experienced outfitter, we suggest that if you can manage some rains, it’s the best time to see alpine flowers in blossom. You will be overwhelmed by the abundance of wild flowers on trails.

Summary

  • December, January and February – Avoid high altitude trek. Winter treks can be done.
  • September, October and November – Good for trek and cultural sightseeing tours. March, April, May and June equally good.
  • Monsoon July, August and mid-September – Avoid Eastern and Southern Bhutan tour.
  • Western regions of Thimphu, Paro, Punakha and Wangdue good to tour all year round.

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