The magical country of Bhutan will greet you with beautiful monasteries, mystical valleys, apple orchards and prayer flags throughout.
A sovereign state in South Asia, Bhutan is also popularly known as 'Land of Thunder Dragon.' It is a landlocked country situated in the Eastern Himalayas. Largely untouched by the modern world, Bhutan is an enigmatic mountain kingdom of green valleys crowned with dzongs (fortresses) and chortens (shrines).
The government of Bhutan is committed to building a sustainable tourism industry that is not only financially viable but also limits the negative cultural and environmental impacts commonly associated with the culture of mass tourism. By establishing a policy of "High Value, Low Impact" tourism, the kingdom of Bhutan seeks to ensure that it attracts only the most discerning visitors with a deep respect for cultural values, traditions and the natural environment. A journey through Bhutan will take you through rich forests, over high mountain passes and to some of the most biologically diverse national parks in the world.
An interesting fact about Bhutan - the general prosperity of the country is measured by the 'Gross National Happiness' index, explained by its four pillars - sustainable development, good governance, cultural preservation and environmental protection. You'll find the Bhutanese welcoming in showing you their deeply Buddhist and traditional way of life.
On your visit to Bhutan the best thing you can do is to tranquilly take in the unbelievable natural wonders and meaningful architecture however it suits you best. Rafting, hiking, and cycling are popular offerings for guests to experience everything this country has to offer. As the country operates a strict entry policy, it's essential that your trip is planned thoroughly. We will use our extensive knowledge to create a carefully arranged itinerary that's tailored to your interests.
Official site: http://www.tourism.gov.bt
October to December is the ideal time to visit Bhutan as the air is clear and fresh with sunny skies. January and February are colder, but from then until April the climate remains dry and pleasant and in late spring the famous rhododendrons bloom spectacularly, flooding the valleys with colour.
Language : Dzongkha
Currency : [BTN] Bhutanese Ngultrum
Timezone : GMT +6:00
Airports : Paro International Airport [PBH]
Annual Number of Visitors : 209,570 (2016)
VISA : http://www.tourism.gov.bt/plan/visa
The northern regions of the country are colder than the more tropical south and it is recommended you pack accordingly. Trekkers will need to bring appropriate warm clothes and comfortable hiking boots (well broken in) preferably with ankle support and weather-proof to complement the weather and rugged terrain. To have a delightful holidaying experience in the realm of mysteries, obey the regular Buddhist customs. Dress sensibly and avoid public displays of affection. Visitors are expected to dress modestly and respectfully especially when planning a visit to the monasteries, Dzongs and other religious institutions.
All Active/Outdoor, All Inclusive, Forest/Jungle, Hiking/Camping, Horseback Riding, Landmarks/Sights, Local Cuisine, Local Culture, Mountains, Off the Beaten Path, Peace and Quiet, Spa, Walking Tours
The festival celebrates the rhododendron flower. The festival features the rhododendron garden walk and exhibition, local culture and cuisines, arts and crafts, traditional games, cultural programs, guided walks and activities. The festival displays different species that are in full bloom in their natural habitat.
Bhutan is home to many species of birds that are in danger of extinction, including the Imperial Heron, which is one of the fifty rarest birds in the world and the rare Black-Necked Crane, which breeds in Tibet and then migrates over the Himalayas to Bhutan during the winter months. Bhutan is a paradise for bird lovers and ornithologists.
Many tourists travel to Bhutan for meditation and retreat tours. Some go for serious meditation programs that last for days while others for solitary retreats for few hours in the high hills and temples where the serenity and beauty of nature can be appreciated in undisturbed silence.
Whether you are looking for a day hike or a gruelling month long adventure, Bhutan has it all. Pristine mountain lakes, imposing glaciers and some of the world’s most endangered species await you in the mountainous amphitheatre of the Himalayas.
Hot Spring Therapy
In Bhutan, hot springs are known as Tshachus and are found all over the Kingdom. The medicinal properties of these hot springs have been used by the Bhutanese people for centuries to cure various ailments ranging from arthritis to body aches and even sinuses. It is a popular tradition among Bhutanese to visit hot springs during the winter months.
My Gakidh Village
My Gakidh Village provides visitors a wonderful experience to see the Bhutanese way of life. This community-based eco-tourism initiative allows visitors to trek through beautiful villages and pristine natural landscape.
Spirituality & Wellness
It’s a country where spirituality is deep-rooted into the lives of people. It is evident from the massive statues, mandala paintings, intricately designed temples and monasteries. Bhutan has many activities available for those visitors seeking a place of solace, rest and recuperation. Whether it’s a session of peaceful, contemplative meditation, a relaxing soak in a mineral hot spring bath or the all natural remedies of traditional medicine, Bhutan has everything that you need to revive and rejuvenate your body and spirit.
While Bhutan is one of the smallest countries in the world, its cultural diversity and richness are profound. As such, strong emphasis is laid on the promotion and preservation of its unique culture. One of the most distinctive features of the Bhutanese is their traditional dress, unique garments that have evolved over thousands of years. Traditional Bhutanese meal consists of rice, a dish of Ema Datshi, the country’s favourite dish of chili and cheese, pork, beef curry or lentils.
Blessed with enchanting landscapes, fascinating trekking trails, and terrains that are both rugged and unexplored, Bhutan favors the road warriors, daredevils, and adventurers. The terrain is incredibly rugged and there are huge variations in altitude. The northern regions of the country consist mostly of snowy mountains and glaciers but range from subalpine conifer forests to broadleaf forests in the central region and dense subtropical forests in the south. This wide-range of climatic conditions allows for an unparalleled array of vegetation and wildlife to thrive within Bhutan.
The most distinctive characteristic of Bhutanese cuisine is its spiciness. Chillis are an essential part of nearly every dish and are considered so important that most Bhutanese people would not enjoy a meal that was not spicy. Rice forms the main body of most Bhutanese meals. It is accompanied by one or two side dishes consisting of meat or vegetables.
Set amongst the majestic Himalayas, Bhutan is the perfect location for all manner of exciting activities including Hiking, Trekking, Kayaking, Mountain Biking and Fishing. Whether it’s rafting down crystal clear, glacier-fed rivers or trekking through lush, virgin forests, Bhutan offers a one-of-a-kind experience for travelers seeking adventure in an unspoiled and unexplored environment.
Bhutan’s festivals are grand events where entire communities come together to witness religious mask dances, receive blessings and socialize. Tshechu is a religious festival, meaning “tenth day”, held annually in various temples, monasteries and dzongs throughout the country.
Situated in the extreme West of Bhutan, Paro is a prime tourist destination, which attracts thousands of visitors every year. This picturesque region is one of the widest valleys in the kingdom and is covered in fertile rice fields and has a beautiful, crystalline river meandering down the valley. Accentuating the natural beauty are the elegant, traditional-style houses that dot the valley and surrounding hills. There are over 155 temples and monasteries in the area, some dating as far back as the 14th century. The country’s first and only international airport is also located in the region.
Situated at a distance of 72 kms from national capital Thimphu, Punakha is a picturesque region spread over the valleys of Pho Chu and Mo Chu rivers. The journey through picturesque serpentine roads with the valley on one side and the mountain wall on the other is simply breathtaking. Situated at an altitude of 1,200 m, Punakha was the capital of Bhutan before shfting the base permanently to Thimphu. The first thing that will delight you in Punakha are the two rivers that pass by the town. The green valleys lying behind the town forms a perfect backdrop for nature lovers and shutterbugs.
Thimphu is the Kingdom’s capital and also the most modern city with an abundance of restaurants, internet cafes, nightclubs and shopping centres. This bustling city is the main centre of commerce, religion and government in the country. The culture of Bhutan is fully reflected in Thimphu in respect of religion, customs, national dress, the monastic practices of the monasteries, music, dance, literature and media.
Haa is one of the smallest Dzongkhag in the country. This tiny region is one of the most beautiful and isolated areas in the kingdom, adorned with pristine alpine forests and tranquil mountain peaks. Located in South West of Paro, Haa is the ancestral home of the Queen Grandmother and the illustrious Dorji family. The wooded hills of Haa provides an ideal location for hiking and mountain biking.
Gasa, the northernmost district of the country adjoins the districts of Punakha, Thimphu and Wangdue Phodrang and with Tibet to its north. This starkly beautiful region with elevations ranging from 1,500 to 4,500 m experiences extremely long and cold winters and short but beautiful summers. Gasa has become a tourist destination because of its pristine forests and the exceptionally scenic location of its Dzong. Gasa is famously known for its inhabitants, the Layaps, and for the Snowman Trek – one of the most challenging treks in the Himalayas.
Wangdue Phodrang has extremely varied climatic conditions ranging from subtropical forests in the south to cool and snowy regions in the north. It’s one of the largest dzongkhags in the country and most of Wangdue Phodrang District is environmentally protected. With its diverse climates and rich natural resources, Wangdue Phodrang Dzongkhag is home to many rare and exotic animals like Red Pandas, Tigers and Leopards. There are also large numbers of rare birds such as the Black Necked Crane, White-Bellied Heron and the Spotted Eagle.
Paro Taktsang is a prominent Himalayan Buddhist sacred site and the temple complex is located in the cliffside of the upper Paro valley. Sacred mountainside monastery with ornately designed temples & art, plus legendary meditation caves. Tiger’s Nest is an awe-inspiring temple and was constructed upon a sheer cliff face, hundreds of meters above forests of oak and rhododendrons and the valley floor. The monastery has four main temples and residential shelters. Eight caves are there and four are fairly easy to access. The buildings are interconnected through rock stairways and steps with a few wooden bridges.
Rinpung Dzong, Paro
Rinpung Dzong is a large dzong – Buddhist monastery and fortress – of the Drukpa Lineage of the Kagyu school in Paro District. It houses the district Monastic Body and government administrative offices of Paro Dzongkhag. Rinphung Dzong was consecrated in 1645 by Shabdrung Nawang Namgyal on the site of smaller fort. Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries it served as a bastion against invasion from the north. It is regarded as one of the finest Bhutanese architecture – with intricate wood work, large beams slotted into each other and held together without nails.
National Museum, Paro
National Museum of Bhutan is a cultural museum in the town of Paro in western Bhutan. Established in 1968 in the renovated ancient Ta-dzong building, above Rinpung Dzong under the command of His Majesty, the King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, the third hereditary Monarch of Bhutan.
Kyichu Lhakhang, Paro
Kyichu Lhakhang is an important Himalayan Buddhist temple situated in Lango Gewog of Paro District in Bhutan. This is a great and one of the oldest temples in Paro that sits on a hill surrounded by a nice garden, other stupas and big prey wheels. The sounds of the prayers with the scenic view around and the clean fresh air creates the perfect part of the Bhutan journey.
Tashichho Dzong, Thimphu
Tashichho Dzong is a Buddhist monastery and fortress on the northern edge of the city of Thimphu, on the western bank of the Wang Chu. The beauty of this fortress can be seen from heights of different places in Thimpu.
Gangteng Monastery, Thimphu
The Gangteng Monastery, generally known as Gangtey Gonpa or Gangtey Monastery, is an important monastery of Nyingmapa school of Buddhism, the main seat of the Pema Lingpa tradition.
Folk Heritage Museum, Thimphu
The Folk Heritage Museum or Phelchey Toenkhyim is a museum in Thimphu. One can have experience of Bhutanese food in the restaurant.
Clock Tower Square, Thimphu
The Clock tower itself isn’t anything special but it right in the centre of the small city with some shops, restaurants and basic amenities.
Bhutan Post Office Headquarters, Thimphu
A guide from the post office will take you through a brief and interesting history of the country and how the postal system developed and captured Bhutan’s development. You can have your picture taken and they are made into stamps which you can use to send your postcards.
Choki Traditional Art School, Thimphu
Choki Traditional Art School is the only privately run charitable institute that provides traditional arts & crafts training to the underprivileged youths of Bhutan. The school provides free tuition, food and lodging facility and promotes the rich cultural heritage of Bhutan.
National Memorial Chorten, Thimphu
Visitors will find elderly Bhutanese people circumambulating the Chorten throughout the day. Chorten literally means ‘Seat of Faith’ and Buddhists often call such monuments, the ‘Mind of Buddha’. The chorten is an extraordinary example of Buddhist architecture and artwork with its gorgeous paintings and intricate sculptures. The chorten is a large white structure crowned with a golden spire. It is located close to the center of Thimphu city and is one of its most iconic monuments.
The Centenary Farmer's Market, Thimphu
Located below the main town, near the Wangchhu River, Thimphu’s weekend market is by far the largest domestic market for the farmers in Bhutan. Farmers come from all over the country to sell their farm products in the market. With its wide assortment of fresh, organic produce, the Farmer’s Market has become a favourite spot for tourists and a recreational place for people from all walks of life. Nearby, Kuendeyling Bazaam, to the west bank is a collection of stalls selling clothing, textiles and handicrafts.
Buddha Dordenma Statue, Thimphu
This massive statue of Shakyamuni measures 51.5 m in height, making it one of the largest statues of Buddha in the world. The statue is made of bronze and is gilded in gold. 125,000 smaller Buddha statues have been placed within the Buddha Dordenma statue; 100,000 8-inch tall and 25,000 12-inch tall statues respectively. Each of these thousands of Buddhas have also been cast in bronze and gilded. The throne that the Buddha Dordenma sits upon is a large meditation hall. The Buddha Dordenma is located atop a hill in Kuenselphodrang Nature Park and overlooks the Southern entrance to Thimphu Valley.
Simtokha Dzong, Thimphu
The name Simtokha literally means “Atop a Demon” and the legend associated with the dzong’s construction tells us that it was built in order to subdue an evil spirit that was harassing travelers in the region. The dzong is quite distinctive as its Utse or central tower has 12 sides. A large statue of Yeshay Gonpo (Mahakala), the chief protective deity of Bhutan, is housed inside the Utse. Another interesting aspect of the dzong is that it contains the bed chambers of both Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel and Jigme Namgyel two of the most important figures in Bhutanese history.
Tango Buddhist Institute, Thimphu
This monastery also serves as a working university that teaches various topics related to the country and the religion. The place is peaceful and you can see lot of monks going around.
Changangkha Lhakhang, Thimphu
This popular temple, perched like a fortress on a ridge above central Thimphu, hums with pilgrim activity. It was established in the 12th century on a site chosen by Lama Phajo Drukgom Shigpo.
Jungshi paper factory, Thimphu
It is located approximately 1 km from Thimphu City. The factory uses the bark of two tree species, the Daphne tree and Dhekap tree, in the manufacture of traditional paper. Visitors can observe the entire process of producing handmade paper using ancient traditional methods that have been practiced for generations. You can even try your hand at this ancient craft and make some paper of your very own as a souvenir. Deh-sho paper was originally used by monasteries for woodblock and manuscript books and also for writing prayer books.
Jangtsa Dumgtseg Lhakhang, Paro
Jangtsa Dumgtseg Lhakhang is a Buddhist temple in Jangtsa, Paro. It is located on the edge of a hill between the Paro valley and the Dopchari valley, across the bridge from Paro. The Buddhist iconography depicted in the Chorten is considered a unique repository of the Drukpa Kagyu school. According to a local legend, the Lhakhang was built by the saint Thangtong Gyalpo to subdue a “serpentine force” that was located at the foundation of the chorten. Another legend says that Lhakhang was built on the head of a demoness.
Drugyel Dzong, Paro
Drugyel Dzong or The Fortress of the Victorious Bhutanese is worth visiting. This dzong was constructed by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1646 to commemorate his victory over marauding Tibetan armies. Though the fortress was destroyed by fire in 1951, the ruins remain an impressive and imposing sight.
Dobji Dzong, Paro
Dobji Dzong is considered to be the first model Dzong in Bhutan. The name Dogar, which means white border, is a reference to the “Five White Boulders” in the village of Dogar. The Dzong was built in 1531 by Ngawang Chogyal, the brother of Chojie Drukpa kuenley, who is popularly known as the “Divine Madman”.
Punakha Dzong, Punakha
It is the Palace of Great Happiness and is one of the most important historic sites in the kingdom of Bhutan. The Buddhist Dzong that stands on the river bank offers a stunning view of its scenic surroundings. Punakha Dzong is also the witness of the coronation of first Bhutanese King Ugyen Wangchuk. Another thing that will attract you at Punakha Dzong is a traditional wooden cantilever bridge that connects the dzong with the other side of the Mo Chhu river.
Ritsha Village, Punakha
The soil of Punakha valley is blessed by the Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu rivers. The high fertility of the soil makes Punakha the biggest rice growing region in Bhutan. Situated at the foot of a hill, Ritsha is a typical village that beautifully showcases the rural image of Bhutan. You will get to see houses made of mud standing on foundations of stone. All houses in this Bhutanese village are two-storied and you will find gardens and rice fields within the compound of every house.
Gasa Dzong, Gasa
The fortress is unique with a circular shape and three watch towers that are placed at strategic points. The beauty of the dzong is heightened during clear days with a view of Mt. Gangboom. Locally known as the Tashi Thongmon Dzong, the fortress served as a defending barrack in the 17th century. It was named after the region’s protecting deity Tashi Thongmon.
Laya Village, Gasa
It is amazing how a small pocket of ethnic groups survived for so long in the northern part of the country. Anyone on the Snow Leopard trek or the grand Snowman Trek will converge through Laya. Let your adventurous spirit take you on a trek to Laya. Situated at an altitude of 3,800 meters, this village will mesmerize you with its unique culture.
Phobjikha Valley, Wangdue Phodrang
This valley is the habitat of the rare and endangered Black Necked Cranes that roost there during their annual migrations. Every year the Black Necked Crane Festival is held in Phobjikha in order to protect and spread awareness of the cranes. The festival includes songs and masked dances.
Dochu La Pass
Dochu La is famous as a view point and while looking downwards from there, you will feel like standing above the clouds. Dochu La is the site from where you can get the first glimpse of the Eastern Himalaya. Dochu La is located at an altitude of 3,100 m between Punakha and Thimphu.
National Institute for Zorig Chusum, Thimphu
This institute teaches 13 different local arts to the students. One can spend some time to understand the local arts.
Chele La Pass
Located at 3,810 m. between the valley of Paro and Haa is Chele La, the highest road pass in the country. The drive to Chele La is through dense spruce and larch forests. Depending on season, one will encounter various sights such as frozen river, waterfall, rhododendron forest and yaks grazing peacefully.