Bhutan is one of the few countries in the world that was never controlled or conquered by outside power in its history. This Last Himalayan Kingdom whose head of the state is still the country’s monarch; is taking the country towards development with a constitutional monarchy. The people love their royal family and the royal family to the people. The belief of the people in their monarch is also the major reason for the existence of the monarch. Opening to tourism only in 1974, this happy little kingdom has impressed the world in a very short time. The salient features of Bhutan are its pristine environment and intact culture. The constitution itself stating that more than 60 % land should be covered by forests and the country to hold Guinness World Record of planting the most trees in an hour, Bhutan has always revered the nature in the form of blessing. Similarly, the culture that has been passed to them is still intact. The ancient dzongs and monasteries are renovated from time to time and their reconstruction is taken very seriously. Slowly moving towards modernity, this country is a must-visit for everyone.
Bhutan in January is a little cold but totally manageable with the warm hospitality of the Bhutanese.
Weather and Climate in Bhutan during January
January is the time when the winter is at the peak. The beginning of the year starts with chilled weather and traces of snow. The days are sunny and balmy while the nights are cold. The skies are clear while you can expect a few days (one or two) of snow and rain. Valleys like Phobjikha and Bumthang have a temperature below zero degrees.
ranges between -2 to 12° C. The high altitudes have snow but other parts of the kingdom are bearable. Thus, January is the coldest month of the year in Bhutan. It’s usually about a few centimeters but enough to offer you nice and rare clicks. Snowing is occasional in Bhutan’s most populous areas like Thimphu and Paro. But when it does it happens in January.
Weather and climate of Central Bhutan
Maximum temperature: 11° C
Minimum temperature: -4° C
Average temperature: 3.5° C
Precipitation: 6 mm
In January, this region is the coolest and the driest place in Bhutan. The day is at 11° C making it cozy for touring. The night drops up to -4° C which is so suitable for a bonfire. The average temperature of 3.5° C is cool for wandering around.
Weather and climate of Eastern Bhutan
Maximum temperature: 23° C
Minimum temperature: 10° C
Average temperature: 16.5° C
Precipitation: 20 mm
This region experiences a maximum 3 days of light rain which quickly gets cleared. This is also the warmest region in Bhutan reaching the day temperature to 23° C which again drops to 10° C. So, even the nights are warm.
Weather and climate of Western Bhutan
Maximum temperature: 17° C
Minimum temperature: 5° C
Average temperature: 11° C
Precipitation: 15 mm
The temperature at day reaches to 17° C in January which declines to 5° C as it becomes dark. This makes organic vegetables and kids of fruits for plantation. You might come across a couple of days with a rain shower in the morning. Still, this doesn’t blur the distant view of the beautiful sceneries.
Tour in Bhutan during January
January is moderately cold and yet bearable. This season is the best time for homestays. It gives you a wonderful experience staying with a local Bhutanese family doing what they do. They might not have facilities like in hotels but they’ll surely serve you their best. Cultural tours are also equally favorable. Sites like Buddha Point, Memorial Chorten, Dochu La Pass, and the dzongs are at their finest giving you a never forgettable memory. The photography tour has also been loved in January. The reign of the majestic mountains give sits the best pose for your photos worth more than a click. History themed tours with a bonus of stunning views of the valleys in winter will also not let your expectations down from the Kingdom of Happy People. Visiting Bhutan in January will surely leave you thrilled and stunned.
Is January a good time to visit Bhutan?
Every season has its own beauty and adventure. January is a good time to visit especially for those who have a tight budget. The tariff is low as January is a low season. Also, there are few crowds which give you a personal experience. The hotels and flights may be cheap while you can also get off-season discounts. There can be temporary road blocks due to rain and snow. But no worries, the Department of Road clears it in a day. So make sure to spare a few days apart from the itinerary. When it snows around Thimphu and Paro, the King declares a holiday so that all people can come out and enjoy the snow. This scene will be a complete delight when even you can get some really awesome pictures among the Bhutanese around the snow.
Trekking in Bhutan during January
Trekking is the most discouraged in high altitudes but still you can do low altitude trekking which has very strong routes without much difficulty. High altitude treks are not possible due to heavy snow. However, there are plenty of low altitude treks which you can take in January in Bhutan. Some treks offer spectacular views and landscapes during January. On the other hand, low altitude treks are warm and equally splendid. Some of the winter treks are Samtengang winter trek and Gasa Tshachu trek. The trek lets you have a cozy dip in Gasa hot spring in the cold environment. Trekking probably will let you meet people who still are connected to their community, culture and to the pristine environment.
Festivals in January
Bhutan celebrates its special festivals ‘tshechus’ in different dzongs. However, the dates rely on the lunar calendar which keeps on changing in the English calendar. Thus, the dates are dynamic so remember to check these before planning your trip. Also, there are three festivals that were supposed to fall on January but their tentative date is in December 2020. They are:
Trongsa Tshechu is a three days event held in the Trongsa Dzong of Trongsa District. Trongsa Dzong is one of the oldest dzongs in Bhutan and it is believed that dzongs started to spread all over Bhutan after this dzong. This tech includes Cham (masked dance) and other activities like other tshechus. The unfurling of thongdrel before sunrise ends the tshechu.
Usually, this tshechu is held in the first week of the tenth month of the Bhutanese calendar. It is celebrated in Lhuentse Dzong in the northeast of Bhutan. It acts as a break for farmers as it is held after the rice harvest season is over. This 5 days festival is well-known for the colorful clothes of the Kishuthara, for which Lhuentse is famous for.
Nabji Lhakhang Drup:
This is a 5 days festival practiced at Nabji Lhakhang of Nabji festival. This Lhakhang is said to be the first one to be built by Guru Rinpoche. It can be reached by trekking from Reotala. It also has masked dances, especially of Pema Lingpa. It is known for its Tercham ‘naked dance’. On the final day, the large thongdrel is unfurled among the audience before the dawn.
What to wear in Bhutan during January?
January is cold at night while the sun is balmy in daytime. You need to bring some warm clothes to bear the cold at night. A good pair of hiking boots is essential if you’re hiking. However, if you’re trekking, layering of clothes is suggested so that you can add or remove clothes according to how warm or cool you feel. Strong boots are essential even if you’re not trekking due to rough and rocky roads of Bhutan. In the daytime, the sun can be harsher than you think so bring sunglasses and a hat. The northwest part of the kingdom is a little windier so lip balm and moisturizer to keep your skin safe. Otherwise, you can just bring normal clothing like t-shirts and jeans. Don’t forget to pack sweaters and at least one down jacket. Mufflers, warm caps, and mittens also help you to keep the cold away.