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When is the best time to visit Bhutan?

| Words by Rachel McCombie | ,

Your definitive map and guide on the best time to visit Bhutan and its key highlights

Overview: Best time to visit Bhutan

Despite its mountainous location, many parts of Bhutan are not as cold as you may imagine. The southern part of Bhutan enjoys a sub-tropical climate, with winter temperatures of around 15 degrees, rising to around 30 degrees or more in summer. The east of the country is generally warmer, but it gets colder the higher up you go. The Himalayan peaks are snow-capped all year round, and the mountain temperatures fluctuate less, from freezing in winter to 10 degrees in summer. It’s possible to tour Bhutan throughout the year, and there’s a busy calendar of festivals taking place all year, around which you can plan your trip.

Autumn is the most popular time to visit Bhutan, and many travellers arrive for the big festivals during this season, pushing prices up. Smaller festivals at other times of year give you an authentic experience without the crowds and cost. The weather in spring is delightful and wildflowers blossom Bhutan is least crowded in summer, as it is monsoon season. The monsoon weather is not quite as bad as might be expected, so it is still worth visiting even though mountain views are harder to come by.

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Here is your guide on what to expect, where and when.

Map: When is the best time to visit Bhutan

May to September is the warmest time of year with temperatures generally above freezing at night and maximum temperatures between 10 and 14°C (50 - 57 °F), however the warmest months from June to September also see the most rain, peaking in July and August with over 100mm (4 inches). For this reason Spring (March to May) and early autumn (September & October) are the best times to visit Paro, with the Paro festival held in March. This is also the busiest time of year to visit. Summer (June to August) sees afternoon downpours, but the countryside is lush and green. Mountain vistas are often obscured by clouds though. Winter (December to March) sees only a dusting of snow.

Bhutan’s capital sits in a valley, and the lower altitude means that Thimpu has a subtropical highland climate. In summer, (June to August) temperatures reach maximums around 25°C (77 °F) though heavy rains at this time of year peak in July at 370mm (15 inches), which can cause landslides and road closures. Winter (December to February) sees cold nights with occasional snowfall, but days reach around 14°C (57°F). The most popular times to travel are spring (March & April) and autumn (October & November) when days are mild and there is little rainfall. One of Bhutan’s most popular festivals is held in Thimpu in autumn.

The best time to visit Punakha is spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) as days are warm and mostly dry, though evenings can get cold so pack accordingly. Maximum temperatures in summer (September to November) reach around 22°C (72°F) and while afternoon showers are common it is less crowded and cheaper to travel at this time of year. Winter is also a great time to avoid the crowds with Punakha being one of the warmer parts of Bhutan, although overnight temperatures do drop to around minus 7°C (19°F). Go in February/March to experience the excitement of the Punakha festival.

The best time to visit Trongsa is during the Trongsa Teschu, held each December. While temperatures are low at this time of year, dropping to around freezing at night and reaching around 7°C (45°F) during the day, bright blue skies are the norm producing incredible mountain vistas. Temperatures climb steadily and by summer (June to August) the average maximum is around 18°C (65°F), though this is also the time with the most rain. March and October are both quite dry and not too cold, with temperatures rarely dipping below freezing and reaching around 10°C (50°F) during the day.

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