Check out this guide to help you plan your vacation in January.
Weather in Bhutan in JanuaryJanuary, the first and the new month of every new year is wintertime in Bhutan. Unlike seasons like fall, spring, and summer, Bhutan, during January can get extremely cold, yet bearable. For those who wish to avoid the large crowd and extreme holiday expenses, January is a perfect time to visit “the land of the thunder dragon.” In the lower regions of the country, visitors get to enjoy the dry weather and the clear skies, along with soaking in spectacular views of the landscape and the mountains.
The temperatures in January can range from -3 degree to 12 degree Celsius, where the occurrence of snow is usually witnessed in the higher altitudes, depending on the daily weather conditions. The lower regions attract snow generally for a day or two. Other than this, it is quite warm, bright, and sunny during the daytime. That said, Bhutan in January is simply the best time to travel for visitors who can brave the dip in temperatures. And also for those who love exploring an amazing country with raw and cultural beauty.
Best things to do in Bhutan in January
1. Hike up to Paro Taktsang
Also known as the Tiger’s Nest Monastery, it is one of the most spectacular landmarks in Bhutan. Nestled in Paro Valley, the monastery is perched on a cliff wall and was built in 1692. Legends depict that Paro Taktsang was chosen by a tigress who was responsible for bringing an iconic figure from Buddhism, Guru Rinpoche, to get rid of the local demon. It is a two-hour hike up the steep pathway, where you can walk up to the monastery or hire a horse to take you there.
2. Soak in Bhutan’s beauty from Chele La Pass
Marvel at snow-capped mountains that encompass the Chele La Pass. This attraction has one of the highest observation decks in the country, as well as the highest one for the motor vehicles to get access to. Standing tall at 3,988 meters (13,084 feet), the motorway pass offers striking scenery of the valleys and mountains with yaks walking around or grazing at a distance. The drive here goes through thick, lush forests, wildflowers, rivers, and waterfalls.
3. Check out the Gigantic Statue at Kuenselphodrang
Established in 2015, Shakyamuni Buddha statue at Kuenselphodrang stands at 169 feet (51 meters) tall and it is made from bronze that is coated in gold. Overlooking the country’s capital, this attraction is filled with over 100,000 Buddha figures, where each of the figures is made from the same material as the grand statue. Along with exploring the monument, visitors can traverse through the nearby nature park and take pictures of the panoramic landscape.
4. Be inspired by the scenery of Dochula Pass
A fine example of heaven on earth, Dochula Pass is situated at an altitude of 3,108 meters (10,200 feet) and is a link between Punakha and Thimphu. It offers scenic views of the Himalayan snow-capped peaks, and it is also home to the historic Druk Wangyal Lhakhang temple.
5. Cross the Punakha Suspension Bridge
Witness the magnificent beauty of nature as you pass along the gushing Pho Chhu River through Punakha Suspension Bridge. This long, narrow bridge of 300 meters (984 feet) boats pristine views of the encompassing mountain ranges and Punakha valley. It takes approximately ten minutes to cross the bridge.
6. Marvel at the architecture of Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten
Perched up above Punakha Valley, Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten offers breathtaking scenery of the hillside below. Featuring Bhutan’s traditional architecture and unique artistic technique, this four-story temple also offers a serene hilltop garden, perfect for a picnic. It will take about an hour’s hike from the base.
- Ensure to carry enough cash for your daily expenses as the transaction of cards in Bhutan is rarely used.
- Packing layers will seem very useful especially when heading to Bhutan in January.
- Bhutan is not open for solo travelling unless you are a citizen of India, Maldives, and Bangladesh.
- Do your research or ask your local guide regarding taking photographs before heading to the monasteries or stupas. Most of the sites have strict regulations on photographs.
- Smoking in public is banned in the country, So, ask the local guide for the places one can smoke at.
- As Bhutan follows a lunar calendar, the festival dates keep changing. Consult the tour operator to confirm the festival dates (if any).
- Your trip to Bhutan is never complete if you don’t try the local dishes. The one proven way to warm up in cold weather is by devouring soup dumplings, Ema Datshi, and a nice cup of butter tea.
- Wear covered dresses especially while visiting religious sites.