Bhutan, The Land of the Thunder Dragon, is a landlocked kingdom perched high on the mighty Himalayan range. It remains a hidden paradise, accessible to only a fortunate few.
This is a country where religion and nature unite, and is the last bastion of Vajrayana Buddhism. Rich expressions of this ancient Buddhist culture are found in its many festivals, when people dress in their finest clothes and jewellery. Bhutan is a land of monasteries perched precariously on sheer cliffs, fluttering prayer flags lining high ridges, and chanting red-robed monks – all combining to give the aura of a long-forgotten time.
Bhutan has succeeded in retaining the values of the old world, with no traffic lights even in Thimpu, the capital city, and its people’s main goal in life is happiness. Bhutanese are passionate about their national sport, archery, known as Dha. Most villages have an archery range and competitions are colourful and full of excitement with much heckling among opposing teams.
The region is so mountainous that it has successfully repelled invaders for centuries, and this has also ensured that large swathes of landscape remain untouched. With more than 35% of the country under some form of conservation management it is no wonder that Bhutan is home to a staggering range of flora and fauna, including 24 internationally threatened species. Bhutan offers a trekking experience unlike those of more crowded countries.
There is something for every traveller whether it is a three-day trek from Thimpu to Paro, or the legendary Snowman’s Trek which goes over 12 mountain passes and takes 25 days. It is not just walkers who will delight in this beautiful land. In each season the landscape offers a feast for the eyes; in spring the blossom heralds a return from winter, in summer fertile valleys are covered in green and rhododendrons, azaleas and wildflowers cover the meadows like carpets. Autumn casts a golden glow and the rice begins to ripen. Winter brings clear days and cold nights but also lays bare the majesty of the mountains. Bhutan is a land to be wondered at and treasured.
The country experiences four distinct seasons, each offering unique experiences for travellers. The best time to travel to Bhutan largely depends on your preferences and the type of experiences you seek.
Spring (March to May):
Spring is one of the best times to visit Bhutan. During this season, the weather is pleasant, and the landscapes burst into vibrant colours as flowers bloom across the valleys. The temperatures are mild, making it ideal for exploring Bhutan’s cultural sites, hiking, and enjoying the scenic beauty. The famous Paro Tsechu festival, held in spring, offers an opportunity to witness traditional Bhutanese dances and religious rituals.
Summer (June to August):
Summer in Bhutan coincides with the monsoon season, bringing occasional rainfall, especially in the southern regions. While the landscapes are lush and green, the frequent showers can make outdoor activities challenging. However, the summer months are less crowded with tourists, making it a good time to visit if you don’t mind the occasional rain.
Autumn (September to November):
Autumn is another popular time to visit Bhutan. The weather is pleasant, and the skies are clear, offering breathtaking views of the Himalayas. The autumn months are ideal for trekking, as the trails are dry and the temperatures are comfortable. The Thimphu Tsechu and the Black-Necked Crane Festival, both held in autumn, provide cultural insights into Bhutanese traditions.
Winter (December to February):
Winter in Bhutan brings cold temperatures, especially in the higher elevations. While the days are mostly sunny, the nights can be chilly. This season is ideal for experiencing the unique winter festivals, like the Punakha Drubchen and Punakha Tsechu, which showcase Bhutanese heritage and rituals. Winter also offers the opportunity to witness the Black-Necked Crane migration in Phobjikha Valley.