There are myriads of things to do and see in Bhutan, a beautiful country located on the eastern slope of the Himalayas which is renowned as the land of “Thunder Dragon” which contains amazing mysteries to the world. Here if you are looking for a journey to one of the best places to visit in Asia where the Gross National Happiness is more important than the Gross Domestic Product, a stunning landscape where nature and people live in harmony, and especially a place where the production and consumption of tobacco are totally banned, this country is there for you. At an average of more than 2000 meters above sea level, it requires a little acclimation to the exotic highland. So far, you can only travel to Bhutan through travel agencies. Here, no matter who you are, you will find out the most breathtaking time in one of the happiest countries in the world to behold the legendary temples and fortresses as well as the exotic tranquil landscapes and then have a chance to attend the traditional festivals with the local people to get an insight into the national tradition culture and custom. Keep scrolling to discover the far beyond expected things may in your Bhutan vacation.
Best places to visit in Bhutan
1. The Tiger Nest Monastery
The Tiger Nest Monastery, also known as the Paro Taktsang is widely known as the most sacred Buddhist temple in Bhutan which is located on a sheer rock cliff near the Paro District of the Himalayas. Dating back to the 16th century, the mythology of the temple makes it one of the best places to visit in Paro, Bhutan. It is said that in the 8th century, Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche) flew from Kurtoe Singye Dzong to this mountain on the back of a pregnant tigress and meditated for three years, three months, three days, and three hours. Subsequently, the cave became the “Tiger Nest”. Up to 1672, the monastery was constructed around the holy cave.
How to get there?
Due to the separated location, hiking is the most popular way to approach the temple. After hiking up to 900 meters high, the temple complex will appear in and out with clouds and mist. However, for those who cannot hike the whole route, hiring a horse to go up is always available.
2. Thimphu – the capital of Bhutan
Thimphu is the next destination on the list of must-see spots in Bhutan. Discover the fascinating capital city to experience the most surprising things that are far beyond your expectation. Situated in the western part of Bhutan, unlike other capitals in the world, Thimphu is a city that will excite your senses with the images that only exist in Bhutan such as the transportation system operated without the traffic lights, the cinemas only show national movies and wild dogs run around the streets. Here you will be captured by the uniqueness of Buddhist architecture while retaining the country’s ancient features. While there are many places to visit, here are the awesome places to visit in Thimphu, Bhutan.
Tashichho Dzong is a Buddhist monastery and a fortress located on the northern edge of the city. The original was first built in 1216. It has been through the ups and downs of the historical journey that was damaged by many factors. It was not until 1968 that its construction was completed and became the seat of the Government. Tashichho Dzong is a large construction surrounded by beautiful gardens and well-kept lawns.
This is one of the most popular temples in Thimphu, dating back to the 12th century, it offers a magnificent view of the valley from the top of the temple.
The Folk Heritage Museum
Opened in 2001, the Folk Heritage Museum displays various materials of the Bhutanese culture that will fulfill your knowledge when visiting Bhutan.
Kuesel Phodrang is commonly known as the Buddha Point in Bhutan for housing one of the world’s biggest Buddha statues.
National Memorial Chorten
Located near the center of Thimphu, the National Memorial Chorten is one of the most iconic stupas of Bhutan built in the memory of the National Third King. Now it is focusing on the daily worship of many Bhutanese.
A trip to Bhutan cannot be completed without visiting Punakha, it used to be the former capital and political center of Bhutan until the 1960s and is now famous for its stunning landscapes, and ancient architecture reflecting the traditional culture of the country. Here is the home of Punakha Dzong a majestic ancient fortress also known as the Palace of Great Happiness. Located at the confluence of the Pho Chhu (father) and Mo Chhu (mother) rivers, it joined the mainland by an arched wooden bridge. Upon here, tourists will be mesmerized by the tranquil aura of peaceful river curved softly and gently. Additionally, the unique architecture of the fortress also grasps your attention. If you are keen on adventure, do not miss the chance to wander across the Pedestrian suspension bridge behind the Dzong to marvel at the magnificent view of the fascinating mountains. Moreover, Punakha is a very popular destination when you enjoy an adventure tour in Bhutan, especially a Bhutan rafting tour as you will enjoy the best rafting memory on the confluence river offering panoramic vistas of the nature surrounding. If you are a nature lover, it is essential to stroll around the road of the town to capture the most impressive giant cherry trees, admire the picturesque rice paddies along the valley of Punakha, find yourself here in the ripped rice time, you will be mesmerized by the stunning golden rice fields expanding to the horizon. Apart from Punakha Dzong is Chhimi Lhakhang temple where the mythology and the architecture feature by the phalluses considered to ward off the evils making this place one of the most famous temples in Bhutan.
4. Dochula Pass
This is an ideal place to admire the majestic Himalayas. The weather here remains misty and foggy, however, it is able to marvel at the panoramic view beyond the Himalayas from October to February. Located in the western part of Bhutan which is about 20 kilometers from the Thimphu capital, the pass has never failed to attract anyone’s attention by its beauty as well as the peaceful aura. Additionally, it is famous for 108 memorial monuments which tell stories of spirituality, bravery as well as Bhutanese culture. If you find yourself here in the winter, you will capture the most amazing experience to feel the chilly weather in the white snow heaven at the elevation of 3100 meters and look for the snowman following the Bhutanese legend.
Top 5 things to do & see in Bhutan
1. Join in Bhutan’s traditional festivals
Attending the Bhutan traditional festivals may be the most memorable highlight in top things to do in such a country. Festivals symbolize spirituality as well as the unique customs of the country. If you find yourself here on the 10th of each month following the lunar calendar, you will have a chance to witness the Tsechu – the most important religious festival in this country, then wear Bhutan’s traditional costumes and immerse yourself in the exciting atmosphere of the festival to gain a deep understanding into the cultural identity of the Bhutanese. In short, I highly recommend you not to miss the chance to enjoy Bhutan festival tours because you will have more than such these things I mentioned above.
2. Watch an archery tournament
What to do next in Bhutan is watch an archery tournament – the national sport of Bhutan. Archery became the national sport of Bhutan in 1971 and people now practice it everywhere throughout the country. Once watching this competition, you may feel a bit surprised by the way members of the opposing team try to tease the competitor to confuse him then their member can have a chance to take time to perform successfully with the incredible distance of 145 meters.
3. Overnight in the homestay and experience a farming tour
Staying in the handpicked Bhutan homestays and sleeping on a hard mattress is the best way to experience the authentic Bhutan lifestyle. Spending time with a local family and getting up early in the morning and quickly moving to the field along the idyllic stream to take care of the crops under the local people’s guidance. Another good option is that you can join to make a cozy local meal with the host. You will get a first-hand experience of the local cuisine and the main ingredients of the dishes. The Bhutanese are super friendly so this experience will be a part of the most memorable highlights of your Bhutan vacation.
4. Join in kayaking and rafting
If you find yourself here in early spring and winter, fulfill the heart of adventure by the exciting outdoor activities such as kayaking and rafting to explore Bhutan’s wilderness. This would be one of the most memorable experiences in Bhutan that visitors can have a chance to indulge in the risky game of drifting along the high rushing rivers.
5. Birdwatching in Bhutan
Bhutan is covered by over 70% vegetation making it become one of the top 10 biodiversity hotspots in the world and the home of various rare birds including endangered species such as the Black-Necked Crane, White-Bellied Heron. This is a paradise for bird lovers to admire the colorful birds as well as discover the flora and fauna of Bhutan. So, I myself recommend you not miss a chance to enjoy Bhutan birding tours that you will experience the most memorable time in Bhutan, it will be more than listening to the fresh melody coming from a little creature.