Discovering vibrant villages, experiencing tranquility in monasteries, and delving into the rich history of dzongs (fortress-monastery)—Bhutan offers a plethora of captivating experiences. Travelers are drawn to this country for its stunning landscapes, ancient monasteries, lively festivals, and the warm hospitality of the Bhutanese people.
Are you prepared for an extraordinary journey filled with remarkable experiences in Bhutan? Here are the top things to do in Bhutan-
1. Visit Trongsa Dzong
If you have a penchant for exploring historical sites, then Trongsa Dzong, the ancestral residence of the Royal Family, stands out as one of Bhutan’s top tourist destinations and places to visit. Erected approximately 463 years ago, this fortress boasts a commanding position overlooking the Mangde River. It has also borne witness to significant events that have played a pivotal role in shaping the kingdom’s history.
While exploring Trongsa Dzong, be sure not to miss a visit to its 24 chapels and the museum housed within the watchtower. The labyrinthine corridors, picturesque courtyards, and stone staircases vividly recount the stories of days gone by.
2. Explore Haa Valley
Haa Valley is a hidden gem, perfect for travelers seeking unspoiled natural wonders and rich culture. Tucked in the country’s western part, it’s a tranquil, less-explored retreat for serenity seekers.
With stunning landscapes of mountains, alpine meadows, and lush forests, Haa Valley offers a mesmerizing backdrop for nature enthusiasts. Its cultural heritage is rich, with charming villages, historic temples, and a chance to embrace local lifestyles.
Explore Haa Valley for picturesque scenery, tranquility, and an authentic Bhutanese experience. This serves as your gateway to an unforgettable journey in this Bhutanese treasure.
3. Trek to Tiger’s Monastery
Embarking on the trek to Paro’s Taktsang Monastery, famously known as the Tiger’s Nest, ranks among Bhutan’s most thrilling adventure activities. Although it faced destruction by fire, the monastery was meticulously reconstructed in 1998. Towering at an altitude of 9,480 feet above ground level, this trek presents a challenging ascent along a rocky and winding path.
During your trek, you’ll encounter the Taktsang Cafeteria, the sole resting point en route, where you can savor delicious vegetarian Bhutanese cuisine. Along the way, immerse yourself in the vibrant ambiance adorned with colorful prayer flags, the gentle hum of prayer wheels, sweeping vistas of Paro Valley, and the serene echoes of chants. It’s essential to kickstart your journey early, as the monastery closes its doors at 1:00 p.m. The monastery is one of those places in Bhutan that attracts tourists from all over the world.
4. Travel to Jakar
Nestled near the foothills of Choekhor Valley, you’ll find Jakar, locally referred to as Chamkhar. This area is renowned for its bustling trading hub, with Jakar Dzong being a prominent attraction. Serenely perched above the town in the Chamkhar Valley of Bumthang, this dzong is likely one of the largest in all of Bhutan. Exploring Jakar and its surrounding valleys may take several days, offering a wealth of captivating sights and a multitude of things to do in Bhutan.
In addition to Jakar Dzong, other intriguing and frequently visited landmarks include Wangdicholing Palace, constructed in 1857; Bumthang Brewery; Lhodrak Kharchu Goemba, founded in the 1970s by Namkhai Nyingpo Rinpoche; the Cheese Factory, the sole commercial cheese facility in Bhutan; and the 14th-century Jakar Lhakhang. The domestic airport serving Jakar is Bathpalathang Airport, situated on the east bank of the Chamkhar Chhu.
5. Go Bird-watching
Bhutan, often called the “kingdom of bliss,” is a bird-watching paradise. The country is home to a diverse avian population, including the Himalayan Monal, Rufous-necked Hornbill, Black-necked Crane, Ward’s Trogon, and Snow Pigeon, offering a captivating experience for bird enthusiasts. Guided bird-watching tours are readily available in the vicinity of protected areas like Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary, Jigme Dorji National Park, Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park, and Thrumshingla National Parks. These sanctuaries also support migrating and endangered bird species, ensuring a rewarding bird-watching adventure. You may need a permit to travel to these national parks and your tour guides can help you get that.
6. Relish Bhutanese cuisine
Bhutan offers a rich tapestry of cuisine, with both non-vegetarian and vegetarian delights. Among the staples is “Datshi,” with the famous “Ema Datshi” combining cheese, chilies, vegetables, and pepper for a flavorful experience. Shakam Datshi is another variation of this dish, prepared using dried Bhutanese beef, a highly favored meat in the region. You must also try Jasha Maroo, a spicy stew or curry crafted from diced chicken, onions, garlic, chilies, tomatoes, ginger, and garnished with coriander leaves. A gastronomic journey through Bhutanese flavors awaits.
7. Discover the capital city
Thimphu, Bhutan’s captivating capital, nestled amidst the Himalayan peaks, offers breathtaking views of lush forests and the tranquil Raidak River. This city effortlessly marries traditional charm with modernity, providing a one-of-a-kind cultural experience. Interestingly, Thimphu once experimented with a red traffic light, abandoned after three days in favor of human traffic controllers, reflecting the warmth of local hospitality. Today, it welcomes a diverse crowd of tourists, eager to explore Bhutanese culture, cuisine, and lifestyle.
Top attractions in Thimphu include Buddha Dordenma, the Memorial Chorten, the Dechencholing Palace, Clock Tower Square, and the Motithang Takin Preserve. The city also boasts significant dzongs like Tashichho and Simtokha, as well as monasteries such as Dechen Phodrang, Tango, and Cheri. For a break from sightseeing, Thimphu offers charming cafes, bars, nightclubs, and restaurants where you can mingle with fellow travelers.
8. Learn about Bhutanese culture
Bhutan places a strong emphasis on preserving its rich culture, and art plays a pivotal role in this cultural tapestry. Bhutanese art is deeply intertwined with their religion, adhering to a distinct and uniform style. Rather than prioritizing innovation, Bhutanese craftsmanship is rooted in traditional values, emphasizing the preservation of their unique culture through art.
To fully appreciate the beauty of Bhutanese artistry and craftsmanship, it’s essential to embark on a tour of the kingdom’s various dzongs (fortress-monastery), such as Punakha Dzong and Semtokha Dzong. For art enthusiasts, a self-guided art and craft tour is among the top things to do in Bhutan, offering a captivating journey through the heart of Bhutanese creativity and cultural heritage.
Frequently celebrated as the last Shangri-La, Bhutan stands as a distinctive destination catering to diverse interests, be it a family retreat, a romantic honeymoon, or an adventure-filled escape. To truly delve into the allure of this captivating realm, delve into our thoughtfully curated selection of the best tourist attractions in Bhutan. If you are planning a trip to the happiest country in the world, feel free to reach out to us, and our experts will be happy to help.
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