Take note of peak & non-peak periods
The peak tourist seasons are Spring: March – May and Fall: September – November. In particular, March, April, October and November are especially busy. If you’re considering visiting during these months, it’s best to book your tour package and flight tickets at least 3 months ahead to ensure your reservation.
Back in 2010, Drukair tickets were sold out for 3 consecutive weeks, so to avoid disappointment, we’d advise you to plan ahead. More tourists tend to travel during this period as they are the ideal months for festivals and trekking, which are naturally big draws.
If you want to avoid the crowd of the peak tourist period, consider travelling during the non-peak period.
Cost difference between peak & non-peak periods
During the peak tourist seasons of March – May and September – November, the daily tariff costs US$250 per day. For the non-peak season of December – February and June – August, the daily tariff is US$200 per day. If you want to travel to Bhutan but have a tight(er) budget, plan your trip during the off-peak months.
Travellers intending to go alone or as a pair should take note of the daily surcharge as follows: Single traveller – US$40 per night, Group of 2 travellers – US$30 per person/per night, Group of 3 travellers or more – No surcharge (so gather 2 of your friends along, save some money and form lasting memories!)
Know the seasons
It really depends on what you want to see and do. If you want to trek, April, May, September and October are the best months with optimum weather. Although it is colder, the skies are generally clear and blue, and most importantly, it won’t be muddy. Do note that the monsoon season in Bhutan is from July – August and during this time, light rain (1-2 hours) in the morning is typical. Heavy downpours are rare, but we generally do not recommend trekking, unless they are short day hikes.
Winter is a good time to catch the endangered black necked crane in their winter home, the Phobjika valley and summer is a wonderful time for mushroom picking (there’s even a Matsutake Mushroom Festival) and to catch glimpses of (sometimes double) rainbows over the valleys. If you’re there to seek solace or for spirituality reasons, anytime would be a good time to go.
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Time your arrival during a festival
There are numerous festivals occurring throughout the year in Bhutan, though the popular ones such as the Paro and Thimphu Tshechu happen during the high tourist season. Festivals in Bhutan usually showcase colourful dances in elaborate costumes, with Bhutanese in attendance dressed to their best and unsurprisingly, tend to be huge tourist draws.
Apart from religious festivals, there are a range of other festivals catering to other interests, such as the Rhododendron Festival, Black Necked Crane Festival, Royal Highlander Festival, Ura Matsusake Mushroom Festival and Haa Summer Festival, to name a few. If you’re looking for a more intimate experience, consider going for a lesser known festival. *Friendly tip* These tend to provide better photo taking opportunities.
Considers a home stay
To be frank, this suggestion is often met with mixed response. Given the amount of money spent on the trip, many travellers want to unwind in the comfort of a hotel room. Others however, love the authenticity of staying with a local family and having the firsthand experience of what daily life is to a Bhutanese.
Some things to take note of if you’re seriously considering this option: while some families have modern facilities, not all families have electricity or a hot shower – they may have to boil the water using firewood. What they lack in facilities however, they’ll more than make up for with unparalleled hospitality.
End it in luxury
In Bhutan, much of your time will be spent in the car travelling from valley to valley and destination to destination. After driving through this beautiful country and possibly experiencing a homestay with a local family, consider ending your trip with a pampering, luxurious stay in a 5-star accommodation such as Uma Paro (where actors Tony Leung and Carina Lau got married) with their complimentary yoga sessions overlooking the charming Paro valley. Choose from their range of other holistic wellness programmes such as guided meditation, ayurvedic therapies or pampering massages.
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