Hiking Bhutan In Spring - See The Rhododendrons In Full Bloom
Bhutan is a land long forgotten, a land of soaring peaks and stunning landscapes. Known affectionately as the Land of the Thunder Dragon because of the powerful storms that roll in from the west, Bhutan is a trekkers dream and offers one of the most authentic experiences in all of Asia.
Although Bhutan can be trekked all year-round, one of the most popular periods for hikers is Spring. Avoiding the hottest, coldest and wettest periods of the year, Spring offers the perfect balance for people wanting a comfortable trek. The average temperature during Spring is a pleasant 20 degrees celsius, with the weather becoming warmer and more humid as the monsoon period approaches. Mountain views are generally good during spring and you’ll have to go high to experience cold temperatures.
One of the major highlights for trekking Bhutan in Spring are the flowers. Nature lovers will be awed by the dazzling flora that ignites the landscape during March and April. Bhutan is said to have around 4500 species of flowering plants, making it a flora paradise. Large rhododendrons explode in colour, blanketing hillsides in bright pinks, red, purple and white. The sight is truly one to behold and one that brings many trekkers to the region specifically for the spectacle. Other blooming flowers to look out for during Spring include orchids, magnolia, daphnes, clematis, primroses and many more.
However, no flower can hold a candle to the staggering beauty of the blue jacaranda trees that come into bloom in May. These beautiful trees are most famously found outside Punakha Dzong where visitors can also explore the incredible monastery (see image below). If flora is your thing then Spring is also the time to search for one of the rarest flowers on earth - the blue poppy. The blue poppy is the national flower of Bhutan and, although once fairly common, the flower has now become exceedingly elusive.
Another reason to visit in Spring is to witness Bhutan’s famous festivals or ‘Tschechu’. These events are legendary, bringing thousands of people together for days of feasting, dancing and socialising. Most notable among Bhutan’s festivals is the Paro Tshechu. Layman and monks dress to impress in bright brocade costumes whist re-enacting the history and legends of Buddhism in Bhutan. The masks the performers wear are incredibly delicate and detailed and tourists absolutely love the vibrant feeling of the city during this festival.
The festival culminates on the final day when the unrolling of the scroll happens. Standing at over four storeys high, the thangkha (Buddhist religious scroll) is believed to be over 350 years old and celebrates the deeds of Guru Rimpoche. This is also the best opportunity to see the king of Bhutan who often visits the festival on the last few days. This period is extremely popular and the city will be teeming with local and foreign visitors, all wanting to experience the exotic and vibrant festival. This means that rooms, guides and flight tickets sell out by January and you will need to factor this in when booking.
The Punakha Drubchen is another festival hosted in Spring. The festival is unique in that it recreates the dramatic 17th century battle between Tibet and Bhutan. The recreation tells the story of how the regional districts came together to fend of the invading forces of Tibet. The festival also provides a number of masked dances that are all held within the famous Punakha Dzong.
Spring is without doubt one of the best times to visit Bhutan, whether it be for trekking or to experience the local culture. The beautiful blooming flowers, exciting festivals and barmy weather mean that visitors will get the most out of their visit.
For more information on the different seasons, please see our article here.