Incredible Things to Do in Bhutan

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The ‘Land of the Thunder Dragon’ – Bhutan nestles in the mountainous regions of the Eastern Himalayas and is one of the cleanest countries in the South Asian territory. A government-sponsored country (Read More) observing Tantric Buddhism and following Vajrayana Buddhism as the state religion. Bhutan has a number of highly detailed Dzongs and temples. But apart from this, there's a lot more to Bhutan than just Buddhism. Here's what shouldn't miss when in Bhutan:

Here is the list of 33 Incredible Things to Do in Bhutan

1. Hike Up the Tiger's Nest

Hike Up the Tiger's Nest

Total Distance: 6.4 kms
Elevation: 3,120 metres (10,240 ft)
Time Required: 3-5 hours depending on your pace.

The trekking trail which leads to Paro Taktsang is considered a bit challenging, but all it takes is the determination to reach the destination. The trail starts from the nearest road and the total length up to the monastery is around 4 kilometres. There are colourful flags all along the way, which makes the trail beautiful and vibrant.

2. Taste the Authentic Bhutanese Cuisine

Taste the Authentic Bhutanese Cuisine

What the Bhutanese are essentially in love with is spice which comes across so boldly in a variety of their dishes. Vegetarian tourists could breathe a sigh of relief about their food options. What is interesting to note is that despite the existence of many popular meat-based dishes, a significant number of Bhutanese people are vegetarians. A lot of Indian and Chinese food is also available throughout the country.

3. See the National Animal of Bhutan

See the National Animal of Bhutan

The crown jewel of Thimphu, Motithang Takin Preserve is a protected area where the national animal of Bhutan, Takin, is preserved. A half an hour walk here would unveil many exotic birds and animals to you, who wander around the area freely and in the most natural of habitat. Overflowing with serenity, the wildlife here is exquisite and should be seen once.

4. Attend the Vibrant Festivals of Bhutan

Attend the Vibrant Festivals of Bhutan

The Kingdom of Thunder Dragon, with its rich culture and spirituality, celebrates numerous festivals with great vigour and fervours. The best way to experience Bhutan’s rich culture is by being a part of its celebrations. Although not all festivals of Bhutan are celebrated with the same zeal, each festival is equally enthralling. Every month, at least one festival is celebrated in this country so make sure you coordinate your travel dates with these interesting festivals!

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5. Stay at a Homestay & Get to Know the Locals

Stay at a Homestay & Get to Know the Locals

Bhutan is known for its people's hospitality and generosity. By spending time with locals in their village and home, you learn a lot about the culture of that country, the lifestyle of its people, and how we are all so similar, yet so different. It gives you a glimpse and insight into their cuisine, their livelihood and their ancestral history.

6. Shop All the Souvenirs from This Beautiful Country

Shop All the Souvenirs from This Beautiful Country

From fruits and vegetables to organic products, Paro Weekend Market and Thimphu Weekend Market provide the visitors with everything under one roof. Bustling with vendors and buyers, the vibrant market has Bhutanese stamps, antiques, prayer wheels and whatnot, sold away at throwaway prices. It is worth making a visit to this area before leaving the city, watching the dynamics of this beautiful city.

7. Go Trekking in the Mountains

Go Trekking in the Mountains

For the ones who look for rush and for the ones who lean toward going to places that aren't run-of-the-mill, trekking in Bhutan is the best thing to enjoy! Situated in the lap of the eastern Himalayas, this most joyful spot on earth is a heaven waiting to be explored by the travellers worldwide. It has the ideal climate, the most inspiring environment, and the truly flawless mountains and valleys that will take away your heart and captivate your eyes!

8. Experience Rafting in the backdrop of the Himalayas

Experience Rafting in the backdrop of the Himalayas

With a number of rugged, untamed rivers meandering through its map, Bhutan offers the perfect destination for river rafting. Mo Chhu, Paro Chhu in Punakha, Sankosh River, Mangde Chhu, Wang Chhu, Puna Tsang Chhu and the Dangme Chhu are considered to be the best for rafting due to their easy access and safe course.

9. Explore the Camp Sites of Bhutan

Explore the Camp Sites of Bhutan

Camping in Bhutan is undoubtedly the best way to connect with mother nature, given the abundance of nature here. There are a few remote villages where you can camp with your friends, family or even solo. These areas are mostly untouched by infrastructural development and you will get the true essence of camping in Bhutan.

10. Punakha Dzong, Punakha

Punakha Dzong, Punakha
4.5 /5

Punakha Dzong is the second oldest and second largest dzong in the country. It was here that the first national assembly was held in 1953 and it remained the seat of the Government of Bhutan until 1955. Not only does this dzong boast of Bhutanese architectural marvel, but it also remains culturally important for housing sacred relics of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism and the sacred remains of Ngawang Namgyal, the Tibetan Buddhist lama and unifier of the country of Bhutan.

11. See Gold Plated Buddha Dordenma in Thimphu

See Gold Plated Buddha Dordenma in Thimphu
4.2 /5

The quaint town of Thimphu is home to a 51 meters tall gold-plated statue of Buddha Dordenma, which is entirely made up of steel. The night sees this statue beautifully illuminated, making it an even better sight. The statue houses around 125,000 spectacular smaller Buddha statues made of bronze and plated in gold, each of which looks like the Dordenma itself. Built amidst the ruins of Kuensel Phodrang, it marks your entry into Thimphu. The base of the statue, which is 3 stories tall, is a meditation hall and one of the largest Buddha Stupas in the world. 

12. Ride Across Bhutan's Highest Motorable Pass - Chele La Pass

Ride Across Bhutan's Highest Motorable Pass - Chele La Pass

Located at approximately 13,000 feet between the valley of Paro and Haa, Chele La Pass is the highest motorable road pass in Bhutan. The pass is famous for the stunning Himalayan views it offers, especially Mt. Jhomolari, which is Bhutan’s most sacred peak at 22,000 feet, Tsherimgang mountains, Jichu Drake, as well as views of both the valleys, Paro and Haa. The surrounding area of this pass has several ancient trails, perfect for hikers. 

13. See Chortens at Dochula Pass

See Chortens at Dochula Pass

Dochula Pass is a breathtaking mountain pass in Bhutan, commemorating Bhutanese soldiers who passed away in military operations for the country. Along the Dochula Pass are 108 memorial chortens (also known as stupas) called the 'Druk Wangyal Chortens' for each soldier's life lost in war. The hills are also decorated with colorful religious flags in five colors to represent the natural elements.

14. Tashichho Dzong in Thimpu

Tashichho Dzong in Thimpu
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Tashichho Dzong is a fortress located about 2 km away from the city of Thimphu in Bhutan. It was constructed in 1641 and has undergone several restorations since then. It currently serves as a monastery and the central secretariat of the present government. While the Tashichho Dzong is closed to the public after the flag ceremony, many visitors linger in hoping to catch the spectacular view of the surroundings after dusk. The floodlights are switched on after sunset, making the entire area come alive.

15. Rejuvenate Yourself with a Hot Stone Bath

Rejuvenate Yourself with a Hot Stone Bath

A visit to Bhutan would be incomplete without experiencing a hot stone bath, and hence this must feature on every visitor's itinerary. A Bhutanese hot stone bath is the perfect way to relax and wind down after a long day of sightseeing and is also believed to have numerous health benefits.

16. Try Archery - Learn More about the National Sport of Bhutan

Try Archery - Learn More about the National Sport of Bhutan

The glory of Bhutan is not hidden from anyone. The country, as beautiful as heaven itself, is known for its vivid culture, vibrant festivals and its richness in sports. It is true that no matter how developed or beautiful a country is, it never becomes complete until its citizens have an unleashed spirit for sports. And it is the royal sport of archery or "Da" (as it is called in Dzongkha, the national language of Bhutan) which completes Bhutan.

17. Memorial Chorten in Thimpu

Memorial Chorten in Thimpu
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The Memorial Chorten, also known as Thimphu Chorten/ Memorial Stupa, is one of the tallest monuments in Thimphu. Located in the southern central part of the city in Doeboom Lam, the Stupa attracts tourists from around the globe with its elegant architecture. It was built in honor of Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, the third king of Bhutan and the father of modern Bhutan. The gallery on the topmost floor offers spectacular views of the whole town of Thimphu. Take a round of the chorten in the clockwise direction. Whirl the large prayer wheels and enjoy the breathtaking view from there.

18. Visit Chimi Lhakhang in Punakha

Visit Chimi Lhakhang in Punakha

Located an hour outside Punakha village, Chimi Lhakhang (also known as Chime Lhakhang) is a Buddhist monastery known for its worship of the phallus. It stands on a round hillock said to resemble breasts and is decorated with phallic symbols all along its walls. It was built in honor of Drukpa Kunley, the “Divine Madman” who preaches Buddhism through humor and sexual tones. Chimi Lhakhang is known as a fertility temple for blessing couples with a 10-inch wooden penis that is tapped on their shoulders.

19. Hike To Rinpung Dzong in Paro

Hike To Rinpung Dzong in Paro
4.2 /5

One of the finest examples of architecture, the Rinpung Dzong, also known as the Paro Dzong, has a very spiritual environment. Beautifully lit up at night, the dzong has many illustrations portraying the life of Buddha. A hike to the top of the fortress welcomes you with a spectacular view of nearby valleys. The dzong also holds the colorful annual Paro Tshechu festival, making it even more impressive than it already is.

20. Explore Jigme Dorji National Park

Explore Jigme Dorji National Park
4.2 /5

Stretching over 4316 square kilometers, Jigme Dorji National Park is Bhutan's second-largest national park. Named after Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, the third king of Bhutan, it is the country's crown jewel due to the treasures it holds within its boundaries. A trekker's paradise, many important treks such as Jomolhari Trek, Snowman Trek, Lunana Trek, and Gasa-Laya Trek pass through here. Mammals such as Snow Leopard, Takin, Tiger, Black Bear, Blue Sheep, and Red Panda are major attractions here. Two significant monasteries of the country, Gasa Dzong and Lingshi Dzong, are also found here.

21. Find Solace at the Mesmerising Monasteries

Find Solace at the Mesmerising Monasteries

Dominated by a large number of Buddhists, it is only natural to find many beautiful monasteries in Bhutan, all of which are sacred and as gorgeous as one can possibly imagine. Almost every little town has its very own monastery, where people visit out of religious faith. And being a beautiful country in itself, its monasteries are also a mesmerising sight to watch.

22. Bike Through the Mountainous Landscape

Bike Through the Mountainous Landscape

Speeding up your bike en route to the top of the hill and playing with wind and speed while enjoying the beautiful sights from there is one of the best experiences that a man can fathom in his lifetime. And what's a better way to get your adrenaline racing than mountain biking in Bhutan? With its vivid landscape and mountainous roads, Bhutan is rapidly becoming one of the favourite places to try one's hand in mountain biking.

23. Spot Black-Necked Crane at Phobjikha Valley (Gangtey)

Spot Black-Necked Crane at Phobjikha Valley (Gangtey)
4.8 /5 View 15+ photos

Known For : Gangtey Goemba Black Necked Crane Information Centre Kuenzang Chholing Shedra

Against the backdrop of the western slopes of the Black Mountains in Wangdue Phodrang, lies the bowl-shaped Phobjikha valley that offers breathtaking views of vast expanses of green fields. It is home to the endangered black-necked crane that migrates to this area during winter. Phobjikha Valley, also called Gangtey, is one of the few glacial valleys in the Kingdom of Bhutan. It also houses quite a lot of trekking and hiking trails.

Best Time: October to December

9 Phobjikha Attractions

24. Climb the Highest Rock of Bhutan

Climb the Highest Rock of Bhutan

If you thought that the trip to the ‘Land Of Thunder Dragons’ was only about exploring the monasteries or the national parks, you are highly mistaken. Adventure junkies looking for new extremities and unconventional tour programs can try out the various outdoor sports like hiking, rafting, and rock climbing. While many tourists love conquering the high cliffs by hiking, some take the adventure a few notches higher with rock climbing which take mental and physical determination, body strength, agility, perfect balance, endurance and also control over the mind.

25. Explore the Suspension Bridges of Bhutan

Explore the Suspension Bridges of Bhutan

The second-longest suspension bridge in Bhutan, Punakha Suspension Bridge is perched over the Mo Chhu and Po Chhu (river) and is about 160-180 meters in length. It is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the world that connects Punakha Dzongkhag to the rest of the valley. The bridge is beautifully draped with prayer flags and makes a perfect spot for bird watching and photography. Although it is built sturdily, it shakes when winds blow strongly, and that is when the thrill is at its zenith.

26. National Museum of Bhutan

National Museum of Bhutan

The National Museum of Bhutan is the pride of the country. Flaunting art and traditions, it has six floors, each narrating a unique tale from the past. You can see paintings, art pieces, animal masks, and many more facets of the rich culture. Perched above Paro Dzong, it houses all the necessary artifacts and belongings from the past. 

27. Understand the Architecture in Bhutan by Visiting the Dzongs

Understand the Architecture in Bhutan by Visiting the Dzongs

The first things that come to one's mind when talking about Bhutan are probably the architectures, the closeness to nature and its strong association with the Buddhist culture. And it is just to say that a huge part of the country's architecture has a strong Buddhist influence. One such distinctive architecture that you will see all around Bhutan are the Dzongs, they are beautiful and hold a very important religious position in the country.

28. Visit Kyichu Lhakhang in Paro

Visit Kyichu Lhakhang in Paro
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Built-in 7th century, Kyichu Lhakhang is a beautiful monastery of great significance. This monastery is also known as Lho Kyerchu or Kyerchu Temple, in Lango Gewog of Paro in Bhutan. The Jowo temple dates back to the 7th century, gaining the title of one of the oldest temples in Bhutan. Legends believe it was built in one night by the king, which is a miracle. It was among the network of 12 temples out of the 108 constructed on definite plans. There are beautiful paintings and intricately designed structures of Buddhist Gurus.

29. Explore Bhutan's Natural Beauty

Explore Bhutan's Natural Beauty

Located at the foot of the majestic Himalayas, the kingdom of Bhutan boasts of incredible flora and fauna. Its dense forests present an exquisite experience for anyone seeking out nature at its finest. Much of the land is made of protected areas set aside since the 1960s. It comes as no surprise that Bhutan is truly the land of parks and sanctuaries – the constitution even mandates that it maintain at least 40% of land under forest cover!

30. Relax in the Beautiful Valleys of Bhutan

Relax in the Beautiful Valleys of Bhutan

The valleys of Bhutan have been the centre of attraction in the country since time immemorial. With green and tall trees, blue rivers and surrounding mountains, the valleys are known to provide tranquillity to one's mind. Although the country has no dearth of beautiful valleys, the following Valleys in Bhutan should definitely be visited.

31. Awe at the Colourful Cham Dances

Awe at the Colourful Cham Dances

Dances in Bhutan, like every country in the world, has its unique forms and styles which define its culture. The dancers do not just perform to entertain the audience or to win an award, but they do it with all of their heart. Each dance form requires a meticulous effort and complete faith. So, what are all the unique dances of Bhutan and how is that different from the rest of the world is what this blog is all about! So, let's have a peek into the fascinating culture of the hill-locked country!

32. Learn More about the Bhutanese Form of Art

Learn More about the Bhutanese Form of Art

The attention to detail, the extensive use of bold colours, the choice of themes and the symmetry of objects in Bhutanese art is known worldwide. The Land of the Thunder Dragon blends Indian, Chinese and Tibetan artistic traditions into their artforms. Art has always remained an essential part of the daily life of a Bhutanese because it represents internal and external spirituality.

33. Trek the Chomolhari Trail

Trek the Chomolhari Trail

This is a tiring eight-day trek that will take you past the Bhonte La Pass in Bhutan, around 16,000 feet, and the Takhung La Pass, 14,829 feet above sea level. It is also known for its moderate trekking difficulty amongst the trekkers worldwide. If you are up for this trek, try scheduling it around the famous Cholmohari Festival, the annual event that rejoices the heritage of the local, nearby villages. It is one of the most popular treks in Bhutan due to its moderate level of difficulty. Also, it offers a magnificent view of Mount Cholmohori.

As for protecting the environment, it is a constitutional obligation that 60% of Bhutan remains covered with forest and it is among the first ‘Carbon Negative’ countries in the world where Tobacco selling is banned. With its sustainable growth of natural resources, protected natural environment, cultural heritage and good governance, Bhutan achieved “Gross National Happiness” by switching from ‘Gross National Product’ ideal of the western countries. So while in Bhutan, be a responsible tourist and continue their legacy.

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