Best Places to Visit in Bhutan

Best Places to Visit in Bhutan

Explore Bhutan's top destinations: from serene monasteries to breathtaking Himalayan landscapes.

Buddha_Dordenma_Statue_Bhutan_Landscape
WRITTEN BYDarlene Aberin
PUBLISHED ONFebruary 16, 2024

Bhutan, often known as 'The Land of the Thunder Dragon,' is a hidden gem. This small kingdom lies in the Himalayan mountains between India and China. Everyone who visits Bhutan falls in love with it immediately.

The kingdom is quite famous for several reasons. First, it boasts untouched natural surroundings. Second, it upholds thriving Buddhist traditions. Third, it offers stunning architectural designs.

The country's diverse landscapes, from lush valleys to snowy mountain tops, add to its appeal. Bhutan is an unbeatable choice if you're looking for serenity and grandeur. It truly is a unique destination.

Best Places to Visit in Bhutan

During your travels through Bhutan, you'll encounter stunning landmarks, natural beauties, and culturally rich zones. Each unique site shares a piece of Bhutan's fascinating tale.

As a guest, you'll have the chance to discover the enchanting world of this Himalayan kingdom. Here are the best places to visit in Bhutan.

Iconic Monasteries and Dzongs

Bhutan houses many famous monasteries and fortress-like structures called dzongs. They're essential to the nation's history and spiritual customs. Here are some you should see:

Bhutan's Most Famous Attractions

1. The Tiger's Nest, or Paro Taktsang, is a sacred Buddhist monastery that hugs a cliff in
the Paro Valley. It's a top tourist destination. Guru Rinpoche, a vital figure in Bhutanese
Buddhism, is believed to have visited here.

2. Punakha Dzong is a grand 17th-century fortress. It's positioned at the meeting point
of the Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu rivers in Punakha Valley. This architectural wonder was
Bhutan's ancient capital. It serves as the winter home of the central monastic body.

3. Tashichho Dzong sits in Bhutan's capital, Thimphu. It houses the King's throne room,
government offices, and the central monastic body's summer home. Its stunning
traditional Bhutanese architecture and gorgeous gardens make it a must-see.

4. The Rinpung Dzong, also called Paro Dzong, is a key fort hailing from the 17th
century. This architectural delight offers splendid views of the green Paro Valley.

Nature's Marvels and Picturesque Landscapes

Bhutan's natural wonders and scenic landscapes will surely impress you:

Nature's Most Captivating Sites:

1. Jigme Dorji National Park is the biggest protected zone in Bhutan. It's a sanctuary for
diverse wildlife. Remember to look for the rare snow leopard, Bengal tiger, and
clouded leopard.

2. Haa Valley is enclosed by the mighty Himalayas. It's a peaceful destination marked by
fertile fields and lush forests. This location is perfect for nature enthusiasts and hikers.

3. Royal Manas National Park is called Bhutan's showpiece of conservation. It's home to
many wildlife, including the royal Bengal tiger, golden langur, and black bear.

History and Culture Hotspots

To truly appreciate Bhutan's vibrant history and culture, don't miss these spots:

Can't-Miss Cultural Experiences:

1. The National Museum in Paro is located in an ancient watchtower. It gives valuable
insight into Bhutanese history, religion, and craftsmanship.

2. Kurje Lhakhang in Bumthang is a holy site featuring three temples. It's a favored
pilgrimage spot for locals and foreign tourists.

3. Border towns like Phuentsholing near West Bengal, Samdrup Jongkhar, and Gelephu
provide a peek into the nature of Bhutan. You'll also get to peak at Bhutan's
neighboring countries through these locations.

Activities to Do in Bhutan

Exploring Bhutan isn't just about sightseeing. It's a doorway into the nation's customs and everyday existence.

If you're an adventurer, Bhutan's stunning landscapes won't disappoint. If culture interests you, local festivals and cultural spots offer enriching experiences. So, get ready to discover the best things to do in Bhutan.

Trekking and Hiking Adventures

The breathtaking land of Bhutan provides an incredible natural setting. It offers some of the world's most exciting treks and hikes.

Great Hiking Trails:

1. The Druk Path is a six-day trek that leads you on an extraordinary journey from Paro to
Thimphu. This much-loved path immerses you in the breathtaking beauty of Bhutan.
You'll see the country's mountainous landscape and scenic views.

2. The Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary offers another exciting trekking opportunity. Trek
through the untouched wilderness and enjoy incredible panoramas. You can also spot
diverse creatures in their natural surroundings.

Cultural Experiences and Festivals

Bhutan's cultural sites and festivals offer deep insights into its culture. It will transport you to the heart of the nation's rich Buddhist customs.

Must-Experience Cultural Sites:

1. Tsechu is Bhutan's most significant religious event. It's celebrated yearly in various
towns. Watch vibrant traditional mask dances and take part in holy ceremonies. You
can also pay respects to cherished Buddhist relics.

2. Visit the Tango Buddhist Institute and Choki Traditional Art School. It will allow you to
understand Bhutan's deep spiritual connection. You'll also appreciate the craft that
sustains its artistic legacy.

Local Cuisine Exploration

Sampling Bhutan's exclusive cuisine is another highlight. It's a crucial part of experiencing the country.

Must-Try Bhutanese Dishes:

1. Your Bhutanese food journey isn't complete without trying Ema Datshi. It's a spicy chili
and cheese stew that's soothing and heartwarming.

2. Jasha Maru is another must-taste delight. This tempting spicy chicken curry is a real
treat. It offers a genuine flavor of Bhutanese home cooking.

Plan When to Visit Bhutan

Choosing the ideal time to visit Bhutan is crucial to truly enjoying this unique Himalayan kingdom. Certain times of the year reveal Bhutan's vibrant colors and stunning nature. Let's explore the best time to visit Bhutan.

Spring (March to May)

From March to May, Bhutan enjoys spring, one of the best seasons to visit. This time offers sunny weather, perfect for exploring comfortably. Bhutan's landscapes burst into life with bright, blooming flowers. Among them, the gorgeous rhododendron stands out.

Benefits of Visiting in Spring:

  • Ideal temperatures for outside activities
  • Vibrant blooming flowers
  • Clear skies for a fantastic view of the Himalayas

Keep in Mind:

  • Spring is a popular tourist season, so you should book your travel and stay in advance
  • Possibility of occasional rain showers

Fall (September to November)

Fall, September to November, is another excellent time for a Bhutan visit. The skies are usually clear, unveiling breathtaking views of the mighty Himalayas. With pleasing weather, it's great for countryside exploration and outdoor adventures.

Benefits of Visiting in the Fall:

  • Clear skies offer excellent visibility of the Himalayas
  • Pleasing weather for sightseeing and outside activities
  • Bhutan's famous festivals, like Thimphu Tsechu and Paro Tsechu, happen in this season

Keep in Mind:

  • Fall is a busy time for tourists, so planning and booking your trip and accommodation early is a good idea.

By planning your Bhutan trip during spring or fall, you'll experience pleasant weather. You'll also get to see eye-catching surroundings and unique cultural experiences. But remember, these peak tourist times require advanced planning. It will help you secure the best travel and stay options.

Organizing Your Visit

Some important tasks need your attention when getting ready for your Bhutan trip. These include renting a car in Bhutan and choosing accommodations. By handling these in advance, your trip can run smoothly, allowing you to kick back and enjoy your time.

Renting a Car in Bhutan

Traveling within Bhutan can hold some unique challenges that you should consider:

  • Bhutan's hilly landscape can sometimes make driving unpredictable.
  • The availability of car rentals in Bhutan can be limited.

We advise hiring a local driver and guide through a reputable Bhutanese tour company. This ensures a safer travel experience. Plus, your guide's local knowledge will enrich your Bhutan adventure.

Driving Guide in Bhutan

One of the many ways to experience Bhutan's beauty is by traveling through its scenic roads. It's an unforgettable experience but requires planning and preparation to ensure a smooth journey. Ensure you're well-informed about local rules and regulations for driving in Bhutan.

Getting an International Driving License (IDL)

If you want to self-drive, an International Driving License in Bhutan is necessary. This document is a translation of your original driver's license that allows you to drive in different countries. Before starting your travel, ensure you have applied and received your IDL from your home country.

Remember, having an IDL eases your journey, but always follow the local driving guide in Bhutan. Drive safe and enjoy the mesmerizing beauty of Bhutan.

Choosing Accommodation

Bhutan provides a range of lodging options to match different tastes and budgets:

Luxury Hotels

For a more lavish experience, Thimphu offers numerous luxury hotels:

  • Taj Tashi is known for world-class amenities and unmatched guest service.
  • Himalayan Tashi Phuntshok Hotel is famous for providing extravagant comfort and top-tier amenities.

Boutique Hotels

If you prefer a unique, cozy hotel experience, consider Bhutan's boutique hotels:

  • Zambala Hotel River View is known for personalized service and stunning river views.
  • Namseling Boutique Hotel is appreciated for its unique interior and friendly hospitality.
  • Ludrong Hotel offers a blend of traditional Bhutanese design and modern conveniences.

Budget-Friendly Options

Budget-conscious travelers will find a wealth of guesthouses and homestays. These types of accommodations offer affordable stays. Plus, they give you an authentic taste of Bhutanese hospitality and culture.

Cultural Etiquette

When you visit Bhutan, it's important to be respectful of their ways and customs. This way, you can enjoy the beautiful culture and have a great trip.

How to Dress

Wearing the right clothes shows respect for Bhutanese customs:

  • Always dress simply and not too flashy. Women should avoid clothes that show too much skin, and men should not wear shorts or shirts without sleeves.
  • When you go to religious places, cover your shoulders and legs, and always remove your hat.

Visiting Holy Places

Bhutan has many special religious places:

  • Take off your shoes when you enter a temple or other holy spots.
  • Be polite, and don't touch or point at holy objects.
  • Walk around temples and holy things in a clockwise direction.

Taking Pictures

In Bhutan, it's important to be careful when taking pictures, especially in holy places or during special events:

  • Know the rules about taking photos or videos. Some places do not allow it, and others need special permission.
  • Always ask if it's okay before you take pictures of people or someone's belongings.

Talking with Bhutanese People

Being kind to local people is a big part of visiting Bhutan:

  • People in Bhutan are friendly and nice. Be polite and kind to them as well.
  • Think about what you say and do. Something you think is okay might upset someone from Bhutan.

By following these simple rules, you'll have a better trip and get closer to the people and culture of Bhutan. When you respect their ways, you become part of what makes Bhutan special.

Safety Tips

Even though Bhutan is peaceful and safe, travelers need to be alert. Taking necessary safeguards can help avoid any surprises or health troubles during your visit.

Exploring Remote Areas

Bhutan’s untouched landscapes can be breathtaking, but it has its challenges too:

  • Always go with a local guide if you want to explore remote or less-visited areas. The trails can be tough and confusing.
  • It's better not to go out alone at night in lonely places. Places with no or poor lighting can lead to accidents.

Health Considerations

The high altitude in Bhutan may affect your health:

  • To dodge altitude sickness, drink lots of fluids and avoid too much hard work.
  • Carry important medicines and a first-aid kit. They are travel must-haves.
  • Take all the needed health steps and shots before traveling to Bhutan.

Emergency Contact Information

Being ready for emergencies is part of safe traveling:

  • Always keep handy the emergency contact details of your country’s embassy, the nearest hospital, and local police.
  • If your embassy has a registration program for trips, go for it. It can be a big help in emergencies.

Though Bhutan is generally safe, smart travel involves certain considerations and preparations. This promises a fun and secure visit to splendid Bhutan.

Sustainable Travel Practices

Bhutan loves nature, and you can too when you visit. Do things that protect nature and the people who live here.

Fun and Green Activities

Pick activities that go along with Bhutan's love of nature:

  • Take part in green tours that help save nature and support the local people who work to save it.
  • Go for family-friendly walks, treks, and hikes that don't harm the environment.
  • Learn about the animals that live there to enjoy your time without disturbing anything.

Limit Your Waste

Help Bhutan limit waste:

  • Bring and use refillable water bottles, hygiene items, and shopping bags instead of one-time-use items.
  • Throw your waste in the right spot, and separate things you can recycle from things you can’t.
  • Do not litter in the city or the countryside, especially when hiking or visiting nature hotspots.

Help Local Businesses and People

Part of green travel is helping local businesses and communities:

  • Buy gifts and other items from local shops and artisans to help them live well.
  • Eat at local restaurants and markets to taste real Bhutanese food and help local businesses.
  • Stay at places like homestays and green hotels, where the money goes directly to the local community and helps keep their culture alive.

By choosing green travel, you make your trip better and help protect Bhutan's environment and people.

Conclusion

Bhutan is a special place that will amaze you with its beautiful sights and rich culture. It has famous monasteries, strong fortress-like buildings called dzongs, and stunning nature. Bhutan mixes its spiritual history with its natural beauty in a unique way.

When traveling in Bhutan, you can rent a car with a guide or walk through lovely scenery. This will help you really get to know this charming country. There are many places to stay, from fancy hotels to comfortable homestays, so you'll be sure to find somewhere nice that fits what you like.

To have a great and careful trip, consider staying safe and healthy. Also, join in with Bhutan's efforts to look after the environment. Bhutan is more than just a place to visit. It's a chance for a deep and unforgettable adventure.

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