November is late autumn in Bhutan. It's a popular time to come because temperatures are pleasant and skies are clear, but it can get quite cold at night, especially at higher altitudes and later in the month.
The altitude affects the temperature in Bhutan a lot, and although most of Bhutan is at quite a high altitude, not all of it is. The jungles bordering India have a more Indian climate; the town of Gelephu near the Royal Manas National Park sees an average November high of 81° F (27° C), so can still get pretty hot. However, the capital, Thimphu, sits at 7657 feet (2334 m) with a completely different climate to the lowlands. Thimphu's average November high is 64° F (18° C). Punakha, a lower-altitude subtropical valley, is at 4074 feet (1242 m) and has an average November high of 73° F (23° C).
If you plan to head into the mountains on a trek, you will definitely need to be prepared for colder temperatures at higher elevations in November, but at the lower towns more popular with tourists, a regular jacket should do.
Crowds & Costs
November is peak season in Bhutan, but is not quite as busy as October, especially later in the month. Many popular tourist attractions will be at their busiest, but because Bhutan restricts tourist numbers by requiring a mandatory daily visa fee, the crowds are never that bad. Even traveling in Bhutan in peak season is not nearly as busy as in other nearby destinations.
It's important, however, to book tours and flights as far in advance as you can if you want to attend one of Bhutan's fantastic traditional festivals. The best accommodation books up quickly. Even flights can be tight around these times, because there are limited places that you can fly into Bhutan from.
Where to Go
There's nowhere 'bad' to visit in Bhutan in November. With mild-to-cool weather in most places and little-to-no rain, practically everywhere is accessible.
If you'd like some warmer weather and are interested in spotting wild animals in the jungle, head to the Royal Manas National Park in southern Bhutan, bordering India. It can still be pretty warm in November, but not as scorching hot as during the middle of the year. Jungle safaris in this area offer a completely different side to the Bhutan experience than most visitors expect.
In winter, starting in late October and early November, black-necked cranes migrate from the Tibetan Plateau to Bhutan and settle in the Phobjikha Valley until February. November is an ideal time to visit the valley and to get a glimpse of the birds, as well as visit the information center about the birds, and a festival dedicated to them (see more below).
November is also a good time to visit some more remote or hard-to-reach places that are difficult or impossible to visit during either the winter or the monsoon. Bumthang, in Central Bhutan, is considered the cultural and religious heartland of Bhutan, home to some of the oldest temples and monasteries in the country. It's also a very fertile series of valleys, with fields that glow bright green after they've been watered by the monsoon rains.
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What to Do
If you're prepared for cold temperatures at higher altitudes, November is a good month to trek in Bhutan. Skies are generally clear, so you'll enjoy fabulous mountain views. The more challenging and longer treks (such as the Snowman Trek) are better done in October, when the temperatures aren't quite so cold at higher altitudes, but there are many shorter (but still worthwhile) treks that are suitable in November.
A special event worth traveling to Bhutan for in November is the Black-Necked Crane Festival. Read more about it below.
Events in November
Black-Necked Crane Festival, 11th November, Gangtey Gompa, Phobjikha. This festival marks the return of the birds to the Phobjikha Valley. Children dress as cranes and dance in the temple courtyard. Unlike most Bhutanese religious festivals with shifting dates, the date of this festival is fixed.
Trashigang Tsechu, Eastern Bhutan. This festival is a good reason to make the effort to visit remote eastern Bhutan. It lasts for three days, and few foreigners attend.
Traveling to Bhutan in November? Check out these great itineraries
Bhutan Birding Trip - 9 Days. Combine this delightful bird-watching itinerary with time at Phobjikha's Black-Necked Crane Festival on November 11th for the ultimate trip for bird and nature lovers.
Nature and Culture in Western and Central Bhutan - 12 Days. Remote Central Bhutan offers a wealth of cultural and natural attractions that are rarely visited by outsiders, and November is a good time to visit.
Bike Tour of Bhutan - 15 Days. Get an inside look at the fascinating culture and beautiful landscapes of Bhutan on this two-week cycling adventure.
Explore Bhutan: Dagala Trek and Cultural Highlights - 10 Days. As well as the five-day trek to the beautiful lakes, this itinerary visits Bhutan's highlights in Thimphu, Paro, and the Punakha Valley.