The Kingdom of Bhutan in the heart of the Himalayas is situated between Tibet to the north, Nepal to the west and India to the south and east. In order to protect its unique cultural heritage, Bhutan admits only a small number of tourists each year. We will explore Western and Central Bhutan, driving over high passes and through dense pine forests, visiting remote valleys, monasteries and museums.
March to Early June & Late September to November is considered to be the best time of the year to visit Bhutan, as it is mild and clear, offering magnificent views of the Himalayas. Bright sunshine keeps the days warm while the temperatures start falling toward freezing at night. One can witness harvest time in Bhutan along with the brilliant fall colours of changing foliage. We will see Bhutan’s imposing architecture, beautiful artwork and have the opportunity to observe the role of religion in Bhutan. Bhutan is the only country in the world devoted to the Tantric form of Mahayana Buddhism and the influence of the red-robed lama is visible everywhere.
Dzongkha (official); the Bhutia speak various Tibetan dialects; the Nepalese speak various Nepalese dialects.
Buddhist-74 percent, Hindu-21 percent, Others-5 percent
USD 20 Per Person
Visa is processed by the handling agent and since tourist visas are issued for the full period you have arranged to stay in Bhutan, it¹s unlikely that you would need a visa extension.
At the time of research, the few Bhutan National Bank ATMs could only be used by local customers. The bank does have plans, however, for extending the network and providing credit-card facilities.
If you plan to make a major purchase, for example textiles or art, consider bringing US dollars in cash. Most shops will accept this, and it can save you the hassle of exchanging a large quantity of money in advance and then attempting to change it back if you don¹t find the exact piece you were looking for.
You should not count on using a credit card in Bhutan. Credit cards are accepted at the government-run Handicrafts Emporium, a few other handicraft shops and some of the larger hotels in Thimphu, but these transactions do take time. The credit-card companies charge high fees and the verification office is only open from 9am to 5pm. This precludes paying your hotel bill at night or when you check out early in the morning. The Bhutan National Bank has plans for rolling out point of sale credit-card facilities, so check with your tour agent for the latest news.
You can cash travellers cheques at any bank, most hotels and the foreign-exchange counter at the airport. There are bank charges of 1% for cheque encashment. You should carry only well-known brands such as American Express, Visa, Thomas Cook, Citibank or Barclays. There is no replacement facility for travellers cheques in Bhutan.
Bhutan is at the same latitude as Miami and Cairo. The climate varies widely depending on the elevation. In the southern border areas it is tropical; at the other extreme, in the high Himalayan regions, there is perpetual snow. Temperatures in the far south range from 15°C in winter (December to February) to 30°C in summer (June to August). In Paro the range is from -5°C in January to 30°C in July, with 800mm of rain. In the high mountain regions the average temperature is 0°C in winter and may reach 10°C in summer, with an average of 350mm of rain.
Rain occurs primarily during the southwest monsoon season from June to September. Bhutan bears the brunt of the monsoon, receiving more rainfall than other Himalayan regions up to 5.5m a year. During the monsoon, heavy rain falls almost every night; in the day there may be long periods without rain. Low clouds hang on the hills, obscuring views and, if they are too low, forcing the cancellation of flights at Paro airport.
When to go
The ideal time for trekking and for travelling throughout the country is autumn, from late September to late November, when skies are generally clear and the high mountain peaks rise to a vivid blue sky. While the climate is best in autumn, in Bhutan an umbrella is usually never far from reach, and no matter when you go, there is likely to be rain periods. Autumn is also the time of the popular Thimphu tsechu (dance festival) and heralds the arrival of the black-necked cranes to their wintering grounds in central and eastern Bhutan. Not surprisingly, therefore, international visitors also peak in autumn, indeed about half of the total annual tourist numbers arrive between September and November.
The winter is a good time for touring in western Bhutan, bird-watching in the south¹s subtropical jungles, and whitewater rafting. The days are usually sunny, cool and pleasant, but it¹s quite cold once the sun sets and you will need to pack warm clothing. From December to February, there is often snow in the higher regions and occasional snow in Thimphu. The road from Thimphu to Bumthang and the east may be closed because of snow for several days at a time. It would be best not to plan to visit these regions at this time.
Spring, from March to May, is recognised as the second best time to visit Bhutan for touring and trekking. Though there are more clouds and rain than in the autumn, the magnificent rhododendrons, magnolias and other wildflowers are in bloom and birdlife is abundant. You can get occasional glimpses of the high peaks, but these are not the dramatic unobstructed views possible in autumn. Spring is also the time of the magnificent Paro tsechu.
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In November, 2012 I took a trip with Samsara Journeys to Bhutan and then Chitwan National Park. Bhu... Read More