A Winter Journey Through Mountains & Valleys of Bhutan in December

Do you ever get some silent callings from certain places, beckoning for your visit? Ever since I had a wild idea to travel to the mysterious Bhutan, and I really went there, I have not been able to forget Bhutan ever since.

Bhutan in December – A Winter Unlike Others

In the winter months from December till February, the temperature in Bhutan dips to the lowest, especially in Paro at night. It was mid-Dec when I went Bhutan with Druk Asia – the mildest among the three months. I was glad we chose those dates (earlier I was in Japan to see Mount Fuji), because Bhutan gave me a deep impression (and thousands of photos to edit) from that near-perfect-weather trip.

Dramatic Mountains & Silhouettes of Bhutan

Never have I seen mountains like Bhutan’s.

We arrived in the dawn, already feeling the nerves having previewed the mountain peaks that surrounded our tiny selves. As our vehicle wove through the twirling roads from Paro to Thimphu, I was trying to keep up with the majestic sights, the new information that my guide was sharing, as well as translating the necessary to my parents.

Paro Airport | Bhutan in December – It Might be the Best Time to Visit Bhutan • The Petite Wanderess

 

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Paro Airport | Bhutan in December – It Might be the Best Time to Visit Bhutan • The Petite Wanderess
Paro Airport

morning tea | Bhutan in December – It Might be the Best Time to Visit Bhutan • The Petite Wanderess

Bhutan is home to the highest unclimbed mountain in the world – Gangkhar Puensum. In Bhutan, for religious reasons, mountaineering is forbidden for those that peak above 6000m, and Gangkhar Puensum soars into the sky at 7500m (which is like nine of Burj Khalifa stacked).

In clear weather, Bhutan’s skies will bless you with breathtaking views of the Himalayan mountains, as what I saw at Dochula Pass while en route to Punakha from Thimphu.

Bhutan in December – It Might be the Best Time to Visit Bhutan • The Petite Wanderess

One thing you might have missed reading elsewhere is, the rivers and streams in Bhutan are smooth-current and clear-colored in winter. During summer, the glacial lakes will melt, increasing the water level in Bhutan’s rivers. The water currents will be stronger and thus turn the water muddy. This is the reason why white-water rafting is a recommended activity to do in Bhutan during winter season. The ride will be smooth and calming for the soul.

| Also read: Rafting in Punakha, Bhutan! |

Paro | Bhutan in December – It Might be the Best Time to Visit Bhutan • The Petite Wanderess

hiking in Bhutan | Bhutan in December – It Might be the Best Time to Visit Bhutan • The Petite Wanderess

Rice terraces and temples

Bhutan in December – It Might be the Best Time to Visit Bhutan • The Petite Wanderess

Bhutan in December – It Might be the Best Time to Visit Bhutan • The Petite Wanderess Punakha | Bhutan in December – It Might be the Best Time to Visit Bhutan • The Petite Wanderess

Dzongs & Places of Religion

Dzongs are unique, fortress architectural buildings that you can find in Bhutan and Tibet. In Bhutan, dzongs operate as administrative offices and religious institutions, signifying the balance of power and importance between the two. Bhutan’s dzongs are usually built on high grounds and mountains. They’re surrounded by fortified walls to defend against invasions by the Tibetans back in the 17th century.

When visiting Bhutan, you’ll be brought to the most popular dzongs.

Punakha Dzong | Bhutan in December – It Might be the Best Time to Visit Bhutan • The Petite Wanderess

Bhutan in December – It Might be the Best Time to Visit Bhutan • The Petite Wanderess

Tashichho Dzong, Thimphu | Bhutan in December – It Might be the Best Time to Visit Bhutan • The Petite Wanderess

Bhutan in December – It Might be the Best Time to Visit Bhutan • The Petite WanderessPunakha Dzong | Bhutan in December – It Might be the Best Time to Visit Bhutan • The Petite Wanderess

Buddha Point, Thimphu | Bhutan in December – It Might be the Best Time to Visit Bhutan • The Petite Wanderess
Buddha Point, Thimphu

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prayer flags | Bhutan in December – It Might be the Best Time to Visit Bhutan • The Petite Wanderess

Seasons and Bhutan

Is Bhutan worth a visit in December?

In December, the weather forecast is sunny and cool, which sounds like the best time to visit Bhutan in my humble opinion. Photos will turn out best in sunny weather, and you can dress in layers! If you’re lucky, you might get to see Bhutan blanketed in snow. Well, even if there’s no snow, you’ll be rewarded with clear skies, sunny days, and cool (cold) nights.

December is low-season for visiting, which means you’ll be paying the USD$200/day of tourist fee instead of USD$250/day.

prayer flags | Bhutan in December – It Might be the Best Time to Visit Bhutan • The Petite Wanderess

prayer flags along Bhutan's longest suspension bridge | Bhutan in December – It Might be the Best Time to Visit Bhutan • The Petite Wanderess
prayer flags along Bhutan’s longest suspension bridge
Bhutan in December – It Might be the Best Time to Visit Bhutan • The Petite Wanderess
monk meditating

 

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In Bhutan, you’ll be doing a fair amount of hiking, with the climax being Tiger’s Nest, of course.hiking in Bhutan | Bhutan in December – It Might be the Best Time to Visit Bhutan • The Petite Wanderess

suspension bridge, Punakha | Rafting in Punakha, Bhutan • The Petite Wanderessrivers in Punakha | Bhutan in December – It Might be the Best Time to Visit Bhutan • The Petite Wanderess

 

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Hike to Tiger's Nest, Bhutan • The Petite WanderessTips for you about visiting Bhutan in December:

  1. How to dress for winter in Bhutan: Layers. The weather and temperature can range quite widely within the day, and of course across different districts. For example, we landed at Paro Airport at 7am, in -2°C, and in that same afternoon when we were in Thimphu, it was 22°C.
  2. Don’t use iOS Weather app to reference if you’re on iPhone. For some reason, iPhone’s weather forecast of Bhutan isn’t accurate. It gives you a colder temperature forecast, especially for Paro and Punakha. Use AccuWeather instead.
  3. Bring sunglasses as the sun can get glaring.
  4. Photography can be quite a challenge because of the brightness, so take note! All the none-iPhone photos in this post were taken using a Fujifilm X-T20 camera.

For more specific travel tips, check out this post that answers
All Your First-World Questions About Visiting Bhutan“!


Visited: Mid-December 2017
Districts covered in this photo journal: Thimphu, Punakha, Paro
With special thanks to Druk Asia. Full credits are at the end of my first Bhutan post. Check out Druk Asia’s website for tours and testimonials and its Facebook Page!

More Bhutan articles on the blog!

All Your First-World Questions About Visiting Bhutan!
• Hiking to Tiger’s Nest without a Flying Tigress
River-Rafting in Punakha – Not to be Missed!

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Bhutan in December – It Might be the Best Time to Visit Bhutan • The Petite Wanderess

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