December is one of the coldest months of the year in Bhutan, but it tends to be warmer in the valleys and there is plenty of sunlight. In the mountains substantial snowfall is likely, which can block some roads. The northeast winter monsoon brings with it icy winds that rattle through high altitude passes to give Bhutan its nickname, the Land of the Thunder Dragon.
A Bhutan holiday in December can be a smart idea, so long as you’re prepared to endure the sharp winter weather. In popular western destinations such as Paro and the capital, Thimphu, night time temperatures can fall as low as -1°C. Other parts of the country though, including the Punakha Valley, can still be fairly warm in December and during the day it is usually pretty manageable wherever you are.
Rainfall is low during the winter months, and the skies remain amazingly clear, allowing for far-reaching views of the Himalayas that are perfect for photographers, and at lower elevations the snow coverage is likely to be thin. With the cold keeping many travellers away, December can be a good time to visit Bhutan and avoid the autumn crowds. December is an excellent month of the year to observe the black-necked cranes in the Phobjikha Valley.
A modern event, organised by the Bhutanese army, the Druk Wangyel Tshechu commemorates a victory over Indian insurgents and is held at the steep Dochula Pass outside Thimphu. Worth it if only for the magnificent Himalayan views.
Find peaceful moments in monasteries and temples, and experience Paro’s distinctive, small-town feel. Wander through Bumthang’s green fields and Phobjikha valleys where the Black Necked Cranes land.