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. Being landlocked, Bhutan enjoys significant tourist influx from the Autonomous Region of Tibet in China, India (with Sikkim, Assam, West Bengal and Arunachal Pradesh strengthening the border) and Tibet.
Without any colonial history, the Wangchuk family had maintained unity in this country and its constitutional monarchy is part of Bhutanese democracy. Paro has the only international airport in Bhutan and the Druk Air flights are operated between Paro and other airports in Gelephu and Jakar on a weekly basis. The weather remains comfortable during December through March and snowfall is the most in February.
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.
Traditional attire is an indispensable part of Bhutanese people as you will find women and men wearing Kira and Gho respectively to work, educational institutions and on festivals. A government-sponsored country observing Tantric Buddhism and following Vajrayana Buddhism as the state religion. Bhutan has a number of highly detailed Dzongs and temples. Some of the dzongs have been UNESCO heritage since 2012. Bhutanese Ngultrum is the national currency and Bhutanese Dzongkha is the national language while English is the medium of teaching in schools.
The Drametse Mask Dance with colourful costumes depicting demons, heroes, gods and animals should not be missed as it is UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage. Modern Rigsar played with traditional instruments like boedra and zhungdra as well as modern electronic keyboards is an auditory treat.
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March to May, September to November is the best time to visit Bhutan
Bhutan is geographically and culturally divided into three regions: Central, Eastern and Western. These are then divided into 20 different districts for administrative purposes.
West Bhutan: The western region of Bhutan is generally considered to be the traditional part of Bhutan. Also, the only operational international airport is situated in Paro, which is nearby to the western region. This is a popular segment of Bhutan and is home to some of the most famous tourist destinations in the country, like the Tiger's Nest Monastery. Other historic locations like Punakha, the scenic valley of Phobjikha, the small and beautiful town of Haa, Gangtey, and the sacred peak of Jhomolhari are located in the western region. Also, some of the most colourful festivals are celebrated in Paro during Spring and in Thimpu during Autumn. Hence, the west of Bhutan is undeniably the most important one in terms of cultural tourism in the country.
Central Bhutan: The central region of Bhutan is for those who wish to explore the country in detail and depth. The central part is all about deep valleys, ancient monasteries, daunting dzongs, and some of the most picturesque landscapes which the country has to offer. The dzong of Trongsa is the entrance point to the central region in Bhutan, and from this place, you will have access to the four beautiful valleys of Bumthang.
In Bumthang, which is also known as the Chokhor Valley, you will get to experience some of the most exotic monasteries, royal palaces, remarkable sceneries and the most traditional architectural wonders. Some other major tourist destinations in this region are the beautiful small town of Wangdue, the Royal Manas National Park, Galephu, Jakar Dzong, Tamshing Goemba, and so on.
East Bhutan: East of Bhutan is all about fascinating village towns, beautiful silk and embroideries, temples and dzongs, and everything picturesque. The East-West Junction in Trashigang, which is termed as the ‘Jewel of the East, is a must-visit place in eastern Bhutan. The Trashigang Dzong or the Fortress of the auspicious hill, Trashiyangtse (the 1500 sq metre forest region of the National butterflies), Mongar, Lhuntse, Khoma Village, Samdrup Jongkhar, are some of the best tourist destinations in the eastern region of Bhutan.
Eastern region is usually untouched by too much of tourism and is home to the minority ethnic groups, some of which comprises of less than 1000 people. So, in case you wish to get a glimpse of the best of local traditional arts & crafts, the eastern region of Bhutan should be there in your itinerary.
Amazing weather at all times
Rich cultural history
World's first carbon negative country
Roads can be unsafe
A threat of natural hazards such as landslides and earthquakes
The Buddhist history of Bhutan is known with certainty as a written history was maintained after Mahayana Buddhism was introduced into the country in the 7th century by the King Songtsen Gampo. Widespread conversion to Buddhism was witnessed during this period. For the next thousand years, Bhutan existed as a series of rival monarchies in separate mountain valleys, but Buddhism remains, to date, the integrating factor.
Read more on the History of Bhutan.
Traditional hotels, cottages and guest houses are easily available with all the essential amenities and facilities. There are a few luxury hotels, but these are very expensive. You can also enjoy a stay amidst the calm and serene environment of the Buddhist monasteries. You might not find a lot of smaller hotels being listed online.
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