Weather in Bhutan
Best Time to Visit Bhutan and Why?
March to May is Spring in Bhutan and is also widely considered to be the loveliest time of the year. The landscape lights up with a rainbow of colors and the valley is luscious with fresh vegetation.
Most vegetable patches and fruit trees are at their productive best during spring and they add to the loveliness of the landscape. The Bhutanese are naturally jolly but their zest for living reaches its crescendo during spring due to the natural and climatic bounty they experience.
Spring is the best time to visit Bhutan and this is also when the splendid Paro Tsechu Festival occurs.
September-October-November is Autumn in Bhutan and is the second most preferred slot for visiting Bhutan. The weather is clear and the sky remains perpetually blue offering a beautiful view of Bhutan’s virgin peaks. For trekkers and climbers, Autumn is the best season to visit Bhutan and you will find a multitude of photographers flocking this country in Autumn. During Autumn, the Willow trees shed their golden-brown leaves flooding the whole landscape with warmth and vitality. Nature lovers will love Bhutan in Autumn too.
These seasons are called high season or peak season in Bhutan.
Bhutan enjoys cool temperate climate but the winters tend to be harsh (in some areas) and monsoons see landslides happening (in some areas), which is why spring and Autumn are the best time to visit Bhutan. However, you need to book early as most hotels and homestays as well as flights run full for almost the entire duration of these two seasons.
The monsoons and the winter however has their own set of attractions. Here is why you can consider exploring Bhutan in these seasons.
Monsoon usually spreads itself through June, July and August and you should do just fine in these months if you are not planning for trekking or hiking. It is said that that the lakes and rivers of Bhutan are at their prettiest in the monsoons and if you prefer enjoying your holidays in solitude then choose this time…there are very few tourists around (which means you will get discounted rates as well).
Winter in Bhutan runs through December to January and Mid-February and the temp dips sharply per altitude. The east-west highways of Bhutan are snow covered but if you want to visit the western part of Bhutan, the winter is a good option. In fact, I last visited Bhutan in January because I came to know that it’s the best time to visit Paro-Punakha-Thimphu-Wangdue and Haa.
The Gangtey Valley with this Bamboo shrubbery and the flocks of Black necked cranes are two of the major winter attractions. Again, winter is considered off season/ low season and so you will get discounts everywhere from hotels to shops to cab fares.
General climate across Bhutan
One important thing you should remember is that the climate of Bhutan varies a lot in different areas of the country and this is because of the vast difference in altitude in different parts of Bhutan.
Southern Bhutan is the hottest part of the country and it enjoys sub-tropical steady weather with the temperature ranging between 15 to 30 degrees throughout the whole year. Southern Bhutan has the highest precipitation with 7800 mm average per year.
Any area in Bhutan which is above the elevation of 3000 meters will probably see snowfall post November till March. Interestingly, the fierce winter northern gales that rages through the high mountain passes of Bhutan gave its name…. Drukyul (this means the Land of the Thunder Dragon).
Central Bhutan is a little cooler and has warm summers along with dry and cold winters. Central Bhutan also has a thick deciduous forest cover. Precipitation in Central Bhutan is around 1000 mm per year.
Northern Bhutan is the coldest part of the country and while weather is extremely cold in winter, the summers are cool too. The high altitude of the general terrain makes its weather windy and a little unforgiving. The northern areas bordering Tibet get about 40 mm of precipitation annually (mostly snow).
Points to Note:
Rain showers are sudden though short lived (in most parts) so carry an umbrella and rain coat always if you are outdoor during late summers or monsoons.
It gets very windy in Bhutan and in winters the gales can whip your face away. Visit Bhutan in Winters only if your resistance to cold is high.
Rainfall in Bhutan
The Indian monsoon (starts from June end and continues till September end) causes rainfall I Southern Bhutan along with high humidity. West Bhutan’s rainfall (at least 60% or more) can be attributed to the Indian Monsoon.
Humidity in Bhutan
Overall, January and February are low humidity months in Bhutan with average humidity ranging between 50% to 58%.
In March and April, the humidity climbs up to 66% and in May, the humidity level goes up to 70%.
In June, July and August and the early part of September the humidity ranges between 75% to 90%. Post October the humidity drops down to around 65% while November and December see the least humidity (45% to 50%).
Month wise weather in major cities
Since its difficult summarizing the minimum and maximum temperature range of Bhutan because of vast geographical diversity, a city wise glimpse can help. Do keep in mind the altitude and location of the cities while understanding the weather.
January-February: While Paro, Thimphu and Bumthang are pleasant in the daytime (average max temp 9 degree Celsius), it can be as cold as -5degree at night. Punakha is warmer (max 17, min 5) while Mongar and Trshigang are quite warm (max 18, min 10).
March-April: While Paro and Thimphuand Bumthang are quite pleasant in the daytime (average max temp 13 degree Celsius), the nights are still chilly at 3-degree Celsius average. Punakha is warmer (max 22, min 10.8) while Mongar and Trshigang are quite warm (max 23, min 15).
May-June: Paro and Thimphuand Bumthang are warm and balmy in the daytime (average max temp 24 degree Celsius), the nights are pleasant at around 14 degree. Punakha, Mongar and Trashigang are all a little hot (max 28, min 16).
July-August: While Paro and Thimphuand Bumthang are warm in the daytime (average max temp 28 degree Celsius), it can be pleasant (around 14 degrees) at night. Punakha, Mongar and Trshigang are all a little more hot (max 31 min 19).
September-October: While Paro and Thimphuand Bumthang have lovely weather in the daytime (average max temp 9 degree Celsius), it can be slightly chilly (5degree to 7 degree) at night. Punakha is warmer (max 27, min 19) while Mongar and Trshigang are quite warm (max 29, min 17).
November- December: While Paro and Thimphu and Bumthang are pleasant in the daytime (average max temp 11 degree Celsius), it can be as cold as -1 degree at night. Punakha is warmer (max 18, min 5) while Mongar and Trshigang are quite warm (max 17, min 11).