Bhutan, the “Thunder Dragon Kingdom” is a transcription of the Sanskrit word, “Bhota-anta” meaning ‘End of Tibet’. Tibet and India border this country of South Asia from all sides. The country abounds in culture and diversity. In fact, Bhutan is one of the richest countries in the world, well not in wealth but in the happiness of course. Intrigued, right? We bet it already makes you chalk out a trip plan to Bhutan.
Even today, Bhutan is one of the least known travel destinations in the world. This, however, works to its advantage and Bhutan is slowly coming up with its own unique brand of tourism. The country is dedicated to maintaining the ecological balance and the environment. To put it another way, Bhutan tourism has a cap to the number of tourists at any point in time.
As a matter of fact, the capping makes the whole visa process a complex task. But again Bhutan is the land of happiness and the people are ready to offer all the assistance required. As easy as it gets, a trip plan to Bhutan requires all visitors to be on a pre-arranged tour through one of the hundreds of approved and accredited travel agents.
Ah, all the help that you need, right there!
Bhutan is the land of tradition, culture and virgin beauty. Bhutan tourism is reputed world-wide famous for its striking landscape, cultural spots, mesmerizing mountains, and the cool and crisp mountain air. From nature lovers to pilgrims to busy office goers to adventure-seeking teens, Bhutan has something to offer to each one of you.
On this note, let’s get started and take you on a tour to the top 10 tourist spots of Bhutan.
1. Tiger’ Nest
#1 on your go-to spot when you chalk out that trip plan to Bhutan should without any second thoughts be Tiger’s Nest.
Yes, we are talking about the same Tiger’s Nest that you have seen doing rounds on social media. Be it Facebook profile picture or cover picture, Instagram or even reputed travel magazines, the place always finds a spot.
Legend has it that around the 8th century, Guru Rinpoche flew all the way from Tibet to this very location on the back of a Tiger. Here he spent 3 years, 3 months, 3 weeks, 3 days and 3 hours meditating in a cave. Be that as it may, the temple complex was subsequently built in the 17th century and named the Tiger’s Nest aka Paro Taktsang. For this reason, this place is one of the most religious sites in all of Bhutan.
An easy trek takes all the way up to the Paro valley and is your access key to the panoramic views. This place literally hangs on the cliff as it stands above the lush forest of thousands of species of rhododendrons and blue pine. Surely worth all the hype and effort!
2. Rinpung Dzong
Dzong means fort in the local dialect. The majestic Rinpung Dzong was built in the 16th century. The fort is a classic example of Bhutanese architecture and traditions. The towering walls are another striking feature of the fort.
Temples and shrines line up the entire temple. Make it a point to visit the Monk’s assembly and the sandalwood stupa. Additionally, the fort premises host, ‘Tshechu’, the annual festival. The festivities are carried on from the eleventh day to the fifteenth day of Bhutan’s lunar calendar coinciding roughly with the months of March to April per the English calendar.
Mask dances that depict religious stories form an integral part of the festival. The procession of holy images follows the dance performances. On the last day, before daybreak, a sacred banner comprising eight manifestations of Padmasambhava is displayed in public. In fact, Rinpung Dzong is one of Bhutan’s “tentative” sites in the UNESCO inclusion lists for future World Heritage Sites.
3. Chele La Pass
No #3 on your list, when you chalk out the trip plan to Bhutan, is undoubtedly Chele La Pass. Chele La Pass is probably on the highest motor-able pass in Bhutan, situated at an approximate height of 3,900 meters above sea level.
The pass offers an unobstructed view of the virgin forests of the Haa Valley in Paro District along with a 360-degree view of stunning waterfalls, forests, and gorgeous alpine valleys enveloping it. Even the drive all the way up to the pass is as stunning as it gets. Tibetan prayer flags line up the road. In fact, the flags put up a boisterous display of color flapping away merrily in the wind. It is the local belief that the prayer flags ward off evil spirits and spread piece all over the world.
4. Buddha Dordenma Statue
In the foothills of Thimphu, lies the majestic Buddha Dordenma Statue. The monolithic statue was erected to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the fourth Bhutanese king, Jigme Singye Wangchuck. The Buddha Dordenma Statue, one of the largest Buddha rupas in the world is 52 meters tall with over 125,000 small statues of the Buddha in the interior. The gigantic gold and bronze statue is visible from almost everywhere in the whole of Thimphu.
This colossal statue of Buddha is a prominent architecture in Bhutan tourism symbolizing the dominant religion of Bhutan. Made in the form of the sitting figure of Sakyamuni Buddha, the project cost over 100 million US dollars. The statue paves the way to the Kuensel Phodrang Nature Park. The park was opened to the public in 2011 and covers 943 acres of forested area.
Next on our list of top ten tourist spots in Bhutan is Chomolhari, a must-visit when you make that trip plan to Bhutan. In fact, Chomolhari trek that starts at Paro, is one of the most challenging treks of Bhutan. However, the grueling trek is worth every ounce of sweat when you lay eyes on the panoramic views the valley has to offer.
Specifically, the Chomolhari Temple that is situated on the south side of the mountain (at 4,150 meters above sea level) is the cherry on the cake. Another hidden gem in just an hour’s walk is the Tseringma Lhatso, or “spirit lake”, one of Bhutan’s highest lakes. The trek is a true test of stamina and determination and takes about 7 to 15 days to complete, depending on the pace of the trekker. The perfect time for the trek is from late March to the middle of June.
Straddling the borders of Tibet and Bhutan, the mountain is the source of both the Paro River and the Amo River. The Bhutanese Buddhists believe it to be the home of the female protector goddesses who protects Bhutan and its people from evil demons.
6. Motithang Takin Preserve
Motithang Takin Preserve is one of the most popular tourist spots in Bhutan. By and large, travelers from all across the world consider this reserved area as their trip highlight in the entire trip plan to Bhutan. Interestingly, the Takin is a rare animal and is very similar to the goat family. The Takin habitats the eastern Himalayas region and are also found in Northwest Myanmar & northwest India.
Legend has it that the Takin was created by infusing a goat’s head with the skeleton of a cow in the 15th-century. The animal sure has a protracted nose, large head, and strong torso. Bhutan tourism takes good care of the Takins by preserving the species around the 8.4 acres of rainforest area instead of confining them to a zoo. It is important to realize that the Bhutan government is in fact against the confinement of animals.
7. National Museum of Bhutan
The National Museum of Bhutan tops the list of tourist attractions in Bhutan tourism. The museum was built in 1968 and set above the famous Rinpung Dzong to exhibit the famous Bhutanese art. Today the museum houses about 3,000 pieces of art exhibiting approximately 1,500 years of the cultural heritage of Bhutan. From contemporary paintings to ancient statues, the museum has it all.
The National Museum of Bhutan also doubles as the photo gallery and stage for the Bhutanese dance ceremonies. The evening is even more spectacular as the museum lights up to put up an excellent foreground in front of an even more enthralling background. The whole feel and charm of the place definitely make put it in the ‘list of must-visit places’ when you make that trip plan to Bhutan.
8. Punakha Suspension Bridge
Punakha, the winter capital of Bhutan, home to the Punakha Dzong, is also a very popular destination because of the Punakha suspension bridge. The 160 meters suspension bridge is built over the Po Chhu River. This makes it one of the longest suspension bridges in Bhutan. The bridge connects Punakha town with Punakha Dzong.
Prayer flags adorn the bridge on both sides. The scene is a delight to the eyes and also in sync with the signature Bhutan tourism style. The bridge is indeed a treat both for the eyes and heart. Walking on the suspension bridge with the strong gusts of winds rocking all through will surely be the highlights of the entire trip.
9. Haa Valley
Haa Valley, a dreamy village only 13 miles away from the India-China border, connects major Bhutanese villages like Chhukha, Paro, and Samtse. The valley stretches over an area of 1,700 square kilometers.
The place is serene and still remains untouched by the grips of commercialization to this date. Spend some warm hospitable time in basic homestays and soak in the culture of the local folklore.
The area houses quite a few temples and fortresses some dating back to almost 100 years. While you chalk that trip plan to Bhutan, make it a point to visit the Dobji Dzong. The top floor offers you surreal views of the valley below.
10. Namgay Artisanal Brewery
You cannot afford to miss a visit to the Namgay Artisanal Brewery when you chalk that trip plan to Bhutan. This microbrewery literally lands you in a food coma as it brews some of the local flavors of Bhutan. The rich flavors are sure to tickle your tongue and leave you wanting more. The brewery produces and sells Bhutan Dark Ale and the Bhutan Red Rice Lager. The rice paddies of Paro supply the red rice for manufacturing the Bhutan Red Rice Lager.
Well, we believe that these top 10 tourist spots of Bhutan have printed the prettiest picture in your mind. However, no words can do justice to this ‘land of happiness’. Go ahead and chalk out that ultimate trip plan to Bhutan. Immerse in nature and feel the true happiness that magic land called Bhutan has to offer. Hit us up if you on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram if you need any help with planning a trip to Bhutan. We will help you #MarkAndEmbark on a journey of a lifetime.Top 10 Tourist Spots of Bhutan- All There is To Explore!