10 reasons to visit Bhutan in winter
Coming to Bhutan in winter, is that good idea? YES, it's actually excellent plan! You might be worried about the cold but in fact, apart from elevations above the 3000 meters, you will experience quite pleasant temperatures during a day. Just in the morning, evening and night, you might need to endure mild freezing. If you're coming from northern hemisphere, you will probably find the winter climate in Paro, Thimphu and most other places more akin to late autumn or early spring. Actually there are number of good reasons for coming to Bhutan in winter. Check all the advantages below and book your ticket!
Notwithstanding Bhutan's famous High Value, Low Volume, tourism policy, you can still meet quite considerable crowds on some places during the high season. If you want to have Bhutan just for yourself (almost), the winter is the time to come. Even on Tiger's Nest, which is usually overcrowded, you will meet just few similarly minded other tourists.
Easy for last minute
The other advantage is that hotels are mostly empty, making it easy to choose the one you want. Most importantly, you will have no problems to get flight tickets even in the short call. Especially for domestic flights to Bumthang, we often do struggle to get the seats for our clients. When you come in winter, it's quite easy to manage. Immigration authorities are also not that busy, making the visa arrangements matter of one or two working days.
Minimum daily package is lower in winter months as it's considered Low Season. Official daily tariff cost for groups is 200 USD per person per night, which is much better then 250 USD charged otherwise. Costs for pairs or single travellers are are also cheaper. If you want to get minimum possible cost, and still have wonderful experience, then the winter is time to go.
Clear skies and visibility
The season with best chances to see snow-capped mountains? Winter of course! More peaks do have snow cover from December to February but most importantly, there is very little humidity in the air, so the mountain views form Dochu-la, Chele-la and from other popular viewpoints are mostly clear. Occasionally the views might be obscured by mist, but it will be for short period only. The sky is usually blue with no or just few clouds. Actually you would experience more beautiful and bright days in winter than in the spring or autumn!
Snow? Yes snow!
Snowing is actually quite rare in Bhutan most populous areas. When the snow comes, it is enough reason for His Majesty to decree holidays and everyone goes out to enjoy the snowball fights, sculpturing snowmen etc. Usually the snow melts during the day or two. Anyway while crossing higher passes, like Dochu-la or Chele-la, you might encounter some snow, usually about few centimetres, just enough to offer you nice and unusual click!
Not really that cold
Himalayas has to be cold especially in the winter, isn't it? WRONG! You will actually experience quite moderate temperatures in populated areas! During the day when sun shines, you might even feel warm enough for t-shirt! In the morning, evening and in the night, you should be ready for freezing, but if you take warm clothes and keep heater in the room on, you don't need to be worried. Expect about 10 to 20 °C during the day. In the night, temperatures would be around 0 to -5 °C, hitting -10 °C only in extreme cases in the high elevations.
Festivals of winter
There is number of traditional tshechu festivals to experiences in the winter. These are equally if not more interesting than the famous festivals of spring and autumn. The event to focus on is Druk Wangyel Tshechu held annually on 13 December in scenic Dochu-la pass above Thimphu. Another very attractive event is Trongsa Tshechu held in December or January in the ancient castle of Trongsa dzong. On top of that, you have number of smaller events in various parts of Bhutan, see our complete Festival list.
Even the trekking can be undertaken in the Winter! One of the popular options is Nabji Korphu Trek in Trongsa district. It's in relatively low altitude around 2 thousand meters and you might even experience Nabji-Korphu Drup festival in December or January! The high altitude treks going up to 4 thousand meters might be undertaken too, if you avoid crossing high passes. See our Jomolhari BC Trek and Masagang BC Trek for possible options.
Black Necked Cranes
Black Necked Cranes are elusive birds annually coming to Bhutan from Tibet for roosting. Usually the birds will come in the middle of November and will stay till the end of February. The main places to spot the birds is Phobjika valley, Chummey in Bumthang and Bomdeling Birds Sanctuary in Tashi Yangtse. If you're coming to Bhutan in Winter, the spotting them is auspicious and beautiful experience as the birds are considered holy by Bhutanese people.
No Santa, no X-Mass!
Bhutan is the Buddhist country and while there are few Christians living in Bhutan today, you can really escape from the western consumerist frenzy associated with the Christmas holidays here. Just enjoy the landscape and kind people of Bhutan and have no worries, Santa is not coming to disturb your peace in Bhutan!