How should I dress in Bhutan?


About to head to Bhutan for the adventure of your lifetime but don’t know what to pack? Fret not. Here’s a guide of useful clothing items to take with you to Bhutan.

You’ve booked a trip to Bhutan. You’re excited! You have your Bhutan visa, itinerary, and plans all in place, but then comes the hard part — packing. Should you prepare for cold weather? How conservatively should you dress?

Well, fret not, because today, we’ll talk about everything you need to know about how you should dress in Bhutan.

How cold is Bhutan?

When packing, keep in mind that Bhutan has three different climate zones because of the varying altitudes. The northern zone is the coldest. Mountain tops are covered in snow all year round and lower areas are cool even in summer.

At the same time, the central zone is seasonal. Winters are cool and dry with clear blue skies, whereas summers are warm before the monsoon.

Last but not least, the southern zone is hot and humid with a monsoon that lasts throughout the year. Therefore, expect lots of rain.

Here are the average temperatures in Bhutan throughout the year. As you might notice, different places within the country may have drastically different temperatures during the same month.

The Bhutanese have an official dress code for formal occasions, but for tourists, there aren't any strict regulations, except for when visiting religious places such as dzongs or monasteries. 

Do wear long pants and avoid sleeveless tops when visiting such places or wear a jacket if you are wearing a sleeveless top. 

A list of clothing items you should take with you to Bhutan
1. Jacket

Charting through different altitudes means that the temperature varies. Therefore, carry a jacket with you in case it gets cold. Piling on layers that you can easily remove is an ideal strategy.

Bring a few jackets including a windbreaker so you can create layers to suit the climate. If you visit during the winter, do include a solid winter jacket. 

2. Good walking shoes

Good walking shoes are recommended. If you opt for an extensive hike, a pair of good quality hiking boots are a must. But even if you don’t hike the Lunana Snowman Trek (a challenging trek that takes 28 days), you would probably go on a short hike or two. At the very least, you’ll hike up to Tiger’s Nest Monastery.

Furthermore, you’ll likely visit villages without proper paving. Even the paths in the cities might be uneven. Therefore, you should have a comfortable pair of footwear. Bonus points if they are waterproof. 

3. Socks

There are several reasons to pack a few pairs of socks. For one, Bhutan is cold. Socks will keep your feet warm and toasty. Moreover, they offer protection while hiking, keeping you safe from stray branches or insects. 

On top of that, you will have to remove your shoes when entering temples or dzongs. Thus having a pair of socks with you means that you won’t have to go barefooted.

The type of socks you should bring depends on the season. If you’re there during the winter, you’d want thick, warm socks, whereas thin, lightweight ones are better for the summer months.

4. Comfortable long pants

Some parts of Bhutan are freezing cold, so pack some long pants. Expect to do a fair amount of walking, so they should be comfortable. Furthermore, you must cover your legs when entering religious sites, so having long pants on makes it easier.

5. Long-sleeve shirt

Since you have to also cover your arms when entering a religious site, it’s simpler to wear a long-sleeve shirt. Long-sleeve shirts are likewise ideal for the warmer days in Bhutan.

6. Thermal underwear

If you travel during the winter, extra warmth is always welcomed. Prepare for the cold by cladding yourself in thermal wear under the layers.

Depending on where you stay, your hotel might be cold too, and you’ll like to wear a layer under your pyjamas for a good night's sleep.

7. Hats/Scarves/Gloves

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Bhutan can get freezing cold. Frostbites aren’t fancy, so take any help you can get! Of course, this includes hats, scarves, and gloves. 

However, you will be required to remove your hat before entering a religious site.

In summary

Visiting Bhutan means visiting many dzongs, temples, and monasteries. Since you are required to dress modestly when entering these places, it is wise to wear long-sleeve shirts and long pants. Wear thermal wear as appropriate during the winter, because it can get really cold.

Ultimately, bring a jacket that you can put on and take off as necessary as you travel through the different sites of varying altitudes.

What do the locals usually wear?

The locals usually wear their traditional dress, gho for men, and kira for women. It is mandatory for the Bhutanese to wear their traditional dress when in school, government offices, during festivals, and on important occasions. 

The gho that the men wear looks like a dress. They typically have striped or plaid designs. The gho is held in place by a kera, which is a woven cloth belt. The kera turns the upper portion of the gho into a large pouch that can be used to carry things. 

Nowadays, Bhutanese men wear a pair of shorts under their gho although traditionally, they wore… nothing. They wear long pants under their gho during winter.

Meanwhile, the kira worn by the woman is an ankle-length dress that is basically a rectangular cloth wrapped around the body. The kira might be a full kira, like a dress, or a half kira, like a skirt. Under the kira, the woman wears a wonju, a long-sleeve blouse. 

If you wish to purchase a kira to bring with you to Bhutan, consider getting one from Bhutan Natural online store

Alternatively, you could rent one while in Bhutan. This way, you could explore Bhutan while dressed like a Bhutanese. 

Here’s a helpful guide on how to wear a kira and a gho:

Video on how to wear a full kira

Related Posts

Traditional costumes of Bhutan and the evolution of kira

The Kingdom of Bhutan is unique for many reasons, but one peculiarity that sets them apart is their dress code.

Apr 21, 2021 11:25

15 reasons why Bhutan should be in your travel bucket list...

Bhutan, a small Himalayan nation tucked away in the South Asian region makes a perfect travel destination post-COVID-19.

Mar 04, 2021 13:11

Bhutan banned mountaineering out of respect for the local...

While there are many stunning peaks in Bhutan, mountaineering is prohibited in Bhutan.

Nov 29, 2021 11:51

My first Jomolhari Base Camp Trek experience, a journey within...

Find out what to expect on a 5-day Jomolhari Base Camp Trek itinerary

Nov 26, 2021 15:01

Travel to Bhutan: experience the beauty of Punakha

Punakha district is easily one of the tourists' favourite valleys.

Sep 07, 2021 15:44

Travel to Bhutan: experience the charm of Paro district

Paro district receives the highest volume of travellers annually. It's also easily one of tourists favourite places in...

Jul 14, 2021 11:20



Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom is one of the 15 shortlisted films for Oscars 2022 International Feature Film Category

The Academy Awards, popularly known as Oscars is the most prestigious award within the film industry.

Jan 10, 2022 16:01

Bhutan experienced one of the heaviest snowfalls in a decade

On December 29, 2021, Bhutan experienced one of the heaviest snowfalls since Gasa’s record of 12cm in 2018.

Dec 30, 2021 16:47


Bhutan's transition into the age of digitalisation

Bhutan embraced the ICT sector and endeavour to build its economy around it.

Jan 13, 2022 12:07

Sighting a red panda in the wild is good luck

From becoming endangered to having a beer named after them, the red pandas are an icon of Bhutan.

Jan 03, 2022 14:46


Online businesses are becoming more and more popular in Bhutan

Even though the Internet was developed in the 1960s, the tiny Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan was only introduced to it in June 1999.

Jan 20, 2022 12:41

Yathra weaving, the uniquely Bumthang culture

Unlike other places in Bhutan, the people of Bumthang don’t do agricultural work. Instead, they weave yathra products. Traditionally, every...

Sep 13, 2021 17:06


Outstanding individuals, schools and clubs awarded for their contributions to grassroots football

On December 22, 2021, the Bhutan Football Federation (BFF), a bronze member of the AFC Grassroots Charter,presented awards to unsung heroes...

Jan 11, 2022 14:15

Bhutan's national women cricket team won ICC Women's T20 World Cup Asia Qualifier 2021 opening match

The United Arab Emirates is currently hosting the ICC Women's T20 World Cup Asia Qualifier. The two ICC Academy grounds in Dubai Sports City...

Nov 23, 2021 11:13


Bhutan banned mountaineering out of respect for the local spiritual beliefs

While there are many stunning peaks in Bhutan, mountaineering is prohibited in Bhutan.

Nov 29, 2021 11:51

My first Jomolhari Base Camp Trek experience, a journey within and beyond

Find out what to expect on a 5-day Jomolhari Base Camp Trek itinerary

Nov 26, 2021 15:01


Ngenpa Gudzom is the most inauspicious day on the Bhutanese calendar

Ngenpa Gudzom literally means the meeting of the Nine Evils. (Ngenpa = Evil, Gu = Nine, Dzom = Meet)

Dec 10, 2021 11:43

Tshoglhams, the 'colour-coded' traditional boots of Bhutan

The colour of the traditional boots indicates the status of the wearer.

Nov 22, 2021 15:29


Bhutan undergo blackout period to curb COVID-19 transmission

Bhutan went into a “24 hours blackout” in 14 Dzongkhags with the detection of a positive community case on 15th January 2022. 141 new cases...

Jan 18, 2022 16:43

Bhutan to roll out booster shots next week for priority groups

Kingdom of Bhutan has thus far organized two vaccination campaigns in March and July 2021.

Dec 16, 2021 12:26

Subscribe to our newsletter

Never miss out on new happenings and news stories!

Download Daily Bhutan Mobile App

Connecting with us just got easier!