When to Visit Bhutan - Climate & Seasons

In a land where lush tropical forests roll into soaring mountains, and crisscross into a matrix of tumbling rivers, Bhutan is home to a richly diverse climate. Elevation varies from 200 meters above sea level in the southern foothills to over 7,000m / 22,000 feet in the high northern mountains. As a result, temperature, humidity and precipitation are hard to generalize. Bhutan receives the bulk of its precipitation during the monsoon season from June to September and in general this is not the best time for travel.

Winter in Bhutan (December-February):

Such a varied climate yields a unique and unparalleled sensory experience that changes not only locale to locale but season to season. The best times to trek in Bhutan are April and May as well as September-November. Summer (June to August) is Monsoon season and we don’t recommend trekking then.  Here is a brief review of what you might expect depending on the time of year:

December to February is mid season and is definitely when Bhutan’s at its coldest; especially in the mountains. Many of the upper treks may remain closed during this time due to heavy snowfall but there may be some lower elevation treks that are worth braving the colder weather, as winter also yields the clearest skies and spectacular views of the incredible mountains of the Himalayas as well as the chance to catch sight of the rare black-necked cranes. Because it’s colder the number of visitors will be lower, and it’s also a good time to do one of our cultural tours of Bhutan. Suggested treks during the winter months would be: Tsaluna, Dagla Lakes or the Druk Path Trek.

Black-Necked Crane

Black-Necked Crane

Spring Trekking in Bhutan (March-May):

March and April are part of high season and as such are some of the most popular months to visit as the weather is nice and the captivating wildlife, and abundant nature of Bhutan, particularly the flowers, begin to bloom. May brings humidity and some rain clouds obscuring mountain views with the approaching summer monsoon season. However it’s still a viable time to visit, especially in early May with crowds beginning to thin, and vibrant bright red, pink, purple, and white rhododendron flowers blooming spectacularly in the mountains.

Rice Fields on the way to Chimi Lhakhang

Rice Fields on the way to Chimi Lhakhang

Summer (Monsoon) Trekking in Bhutan  (June-August):

The summer monsoon begins in June and continues through August and into September. This is low season and not an ideal time to trek as heavy rain falls during the late afternoon and night and low clouds often obstruct views.  The average onset of the monsoon in Bhutan is around the 5th of June and the withdrawal towards the middle of September. These dates generally vary by a week or two so plan accordingly. The rains at the start and end of the monsoon are less intense and less frequent than at its peak in July and August.

Fall Trekking in Bhutan (September-November):

September to November is also part of high season and an excellent time to trek. It can still be wet in September, but skies clear after all the rain from monsoon season, which provides the most astounding mountain views. October is the busiest, most popular month to visit Bhutan as temperatures are warm and mountain views are good, making it ideal for trekking or general touring. Some of the longer most magnificent treks like the Jomolhari trek, Druk Path trek, or Laya Gasa trek are best in this season. While the temperatures in November in Bhutan can drop, especially at night, it’s still a good month to visit, as some of the crowds start to thin out and the views remain spectacular.

Bhutan Landscape

Bhutan Landscape

Overview of Trekking Seasons in Bhutan

High Season (March, April, May, September, October & November)

  • The weather is best during these months
  • October is busiest but offers the best views
  • Rhododendron blooms in March and April.

Mid Season (December, January & February)

  • The weather is still good, though December and January can be cold and snow can block some treks.

Low Season (June, July & August)

  • It’s monsoon season, bringing rains and leeches.
Average Climate for Bhutan

Average Climate for Bhutan – Source: WorldBank

Average Climate for Bhutan – Source: WorldBank

Note: Temperature given is an average for all Bhutan that should give you an idea of the variations throughout the year.  Keep in mind that higher elevation treks in the mountains will have quite a bit colder temperatures.

If you have any questions about the best time for a tour or trek in Bhutan please drop us an email and we will be happy to answer any questons.

Related Reading:
Trekking Options in Bhutan
Packing Checklist for Bhutan Trek

Flickr Image Credit:

Inga Vitola
Roderick Eime
Richard Mortel
Mashrik Faiyaz