Bhutan tourism is considered as a key factor of its economic growth and well-known by different names such as the Last Shangri-La, Land of the Thunder Dragon, the ancient temple and fortress and etc. We present Top 10 a must-see places or things-to-do in Bhutan that can help you plan your perfect trip of a lifetime. Let’s explore this beautiful Bhutan which is the only country that believes in Gross National Happiness (GNH) than the GDP.
Thimphu City as seen from Buddha’s point
Bhutan is a country surrounded by land in South Asia at the eastern end of the Himalayas. It is bordered to the north by China and to the south, east, and west by India. To the west, it is divided from Nepal by the Indian state of Sikkim, while farther south it is separated from Bangladesh by the Indian states of Assam and West Bengal. Bhutan’s capital and largest city are Thimphu.
Organizing several trips to Bhutan for more than a decade, we have listed some of the 10 top-must things to do in Bhutan including the popular cultural and historical tourist destinations that are hugely explored by tourists from all over the world and choosing several tours packages of Bhutan.
One of Bhutan’s popular destinations or major attractions is Taksang Monastery, also known as Tiger’s Nest. This monastery lies on an elevation of 3000m above sea level and places above the Paro Valley perches on the rocky hillside. It was built in the 8th century where Guru Rimpoche (the second (2nd) Buddha) had meditated; having flown from the Kurtoe valley on the back of one of his partners who had taken the form of a flying tigress. According to Buddhist pilgrims, the tiger’s nest is one of the sacred sites in the Himalayas.
This Dzong is also known as the “fortress of the glorious region”, the Tashicho Dzong was originally built in 1641 and rebuilt in 1952 by the third king of Bhutan and now it is used as the seat of the Royal Bhutanese Government.
The Trongsa Dzong dominates the town of Trongsa. Located above the Dzong, the town is little more than a street. Many of the town’s inhabitants are of Tibetan origin and you may have the opportunity to try some Tibetan specialties. A new museum is located in the 300 years old Ta Dzong, Watchtower provides an insight into the traditional history of Bhutan and the significance of Trongsa in the history of the Kings Wangchuk dynasty.
This beautiful Valley Gangey is located at 2900m above sea level, people can reach this valley after climbing up through dense forests dripping wet with lichen, the wide, open expanse of short bamboo can come across as a surprise. The valley possesses two beautiful meandering rivers, Nakay chi, and gay chu. Perched overlooking this beautiful and almost flat valley is the village and monastery of Gangtey. Also, the black-necked cranes that appear here in the winter, there are also barking deer, wild boar, leopard, Red fox, and Himalayan black bear.
Thimphu is the capital of Bhutan; you can enjoy your visit because of its colorful weekend market and individual shops, museums, and attractions like the National Memorial Chorten, built by the third king His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, Buddha Point; perched above the Thimpu. This small city was established as the capital in 1961 and is well-known for being the only capital in the world without traffic lights!
Dochu La passes by its flapping prayer flags and sights over the impressive mountains take your breath away on a clear good day. Visit the highly elaborated Drukwangyal Lhakhang (temple) and the 108 wonderful Chortens, built by the Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck to honor the Bhutanese soldiers who were killed while combating the Indian rebels in 2003.
The Bumthang County includes four foremost valleys: Tang, Chokhor, Chhume, and Ura. Several dzongs and the most significant temples are in the big Chokhor Valley, it is usually considered the Bumthang Valley. There are two descriptions of the derivation of the name Bumthang. The valley is supposed to be created like a Bumpa, the yacht of holy water that typically originated on the altar of a Lhakhang. Thang means ‘field’ or ‘flat place’. The major highlight of this region is to see Jakar Dzong, Wangdicholing Palace, Ogyen Choling Museum, Swiss farm and etc.
Bhutan is also known as a country of festivals; it is suggested to include one of the festivals into your itinerary if you are planning to visit during the festival season. Bhutan has major five festivals that fall in different months. Thimpu Tshechu is one of the biggest festivals which falls in September; thousands of people gather in the capital in their finest garments.
During this 3 –days festival; people gather into the Tashicho Dzong, a mask dance, and perform their religious significance. Similarly, Paro Tshechu is performed during the month of March/April. This is the most popular spring festival where monks and laymen dress up in vibrant, brocade costumes. Moreover, other festivals such as Jambay Lhakhang Drup (fall October), Punakha Drubchen (fall in February), and Haa Summer Festival (fall in July) have significant value and are highly suggested to attend during your visit.
Hiking in the Royal Botanical Garden, the landscape has an ample variety, leveling in elevation over 800 m and occupying a diverse array of biomass as well as wildlife, including red pandas, Asian elephants, and even the elusive tiger. Up in the higher elevations, around 2700 m, the moist cloud forest dominates. The hiking can be amazing, everything is drenched with lichens, and even though it is good to visit there all year round. Here, everything is lush and green, and quiet.
Datshi is measured to be the national vegetarian food in Bhutan. Datshi can be prepared in various forms. The most famous variety is Ema Datshi. Ema mostly means Chilli. Ema Datshi is made of chili, pepper, and cheese. People prefer to order Potato Datshi which replaced Chilli with Potato. If you do not enjoy their cuisine, you would surely miss an exclusive experience in Bhutan.
Therefore, WHY NOT travel to Bhutan? It would be your experience once in a lifetime and you get a complete taste of Bhutan. Learn everything about Bhutan before you travel to a country that believes in Gross National Happiness (GNH) rather than GDP.
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*This blog was originally published on July 1, 2016, and updated on May 14, 2023.