Greetings, fellow adventurers! Bhutan beckons you and your family for an epic adventure! Get ready for a thrilling journey in the Land of the Thunder Dragon with our hand-picked selection of 18 exciting family activities. It’s time to make memories that will last a lifetime!
What Makes For The Perfect Family Trip?
There are so many different ways to define the perfect family trip! Perhaps you’re looking for a destination that provides ample space for your family to relax and bond, or you’re after a place packed with exciting new experiences to try together.
And what about catering to both kids and adults? Whether sparking wonder in the little ones or feeding the sense of exploration in the grown-ups, there’s something for everyone.
Alternatively, you might seek a peaceful and serene destination, allowing you to recharge and reconnect with nature. Or, you could be on the hunt for a place that imparts valuable life lessons and cultural insights for current and future generations.
Whatever your family’s preferences, Bhutan has it all and more!
This enchanting destination offers a little something for everyone. From experiencing the magic of a living, breathing culture amidst modern times to instilling a sense of pride in one’s heritage, Bhutan is a true gem that promises a good time, a relaxed vibe, and peace of mind above all else.
There is a famous saying – don’t listen to what they say… go see! And that definitely goes for Bhutan.
Bhutan is a popular destination that has become an important influencer in promoting the environment and happiness. Not only that, but it is also one of the most life-changing and transformative places to visit – an experience that should be on everyone’s bucket list!
In fact, Lonely Planet recently recognized Bhutan as the top country to visit, and it’s easy to see why.
Families with school-age children, in particular, will love immersing themselves in all that Bhutan has to offer. This enchanting country is bursting with activities and attractions that will keep children’s sense of wonder and curiosity alive.
So pack your bags, grab your loved ones, and prepare for an unforgettable family adventure in this enchanting land with these thrilling 18 family activities.
1. Witnessing The Majestic Views Of The Himalayas
Bhutan is a beautiful country nestled in the Himalayas, with awe-inspiring mountain ranges that offer breathtaking views to its visitors. Among these peaks, the Himalayas stand tall and proud, offering an unforgettable experience that will leave a lasting impression on anyone who sees them.
For those seeking to witness the magnificence of the Himalayas in Bhutan, a visit to the Dochula Pass is highly recommended. At over 3,000 metres high, this stunning pass offers awe-inspiring views of the snow-capped Himalayas (weather permitting, of course).
As you explore the summit, you’ll encounter 108 beautiful Buddhist shrines known as chortens and vibrant prayer flags fluttering in the wind.
Take a moment to catch your breath and enjoy a hot cup of coffee in the lovely cafeteria while soaking in the breathtaking views.
In the winter, the area is covered in snow, offering plenty of opportunities for snow play, and there are also open spaces perfect for hiking and enjoying the great outdoors with your kids. This is truly a view you won’t want to miss – get ready to be amazed!
2. Take Part In Bhutan’s National Sport
Experience the thrill of Bhutan’s national sport by playing archery during your visit to the Kingdom. Archery is the national sport of Bhutan and is deeply rooted in the country’s culture and traditions.
Visitors can join in the excitement of archery by visiting one of the many archery ranges scattered throughout the country. These ranges allow visitors to try their archery skills and compete against locals in a friendly and relaxed environment.
Playing archery in Bhutan is a unique experience as it involves traditional Bhutanese bows and arrows, significantly different from the modern equipment used in most other countries. The bows are made from bamboo and can measure up to 6 feet in length, and the arrows are decorated with brightly coloured feathers and have a unique design.
Visitors will also get a chance to experience the lively and energetic atmosphere of an archery match, which often involves singing, dancing, and friendly banter between teams. The matches can be enjoyed with traditional Bhutanese food and drinks, often served during breaks.
The goal of archery in Bhutan is not to win or lose but to play and have fun. As you learn to play, soak up the Bhutanese hospitality and immerse yourself in traditional song and dance.
3. Embark On A Trek To The Tiger’s Nest Monastery Or Enjoy Shorter Scenic Hikes
No visit to Bhutan is complete without exploring the magnificent Tiger’s Nest Monastery, which symbolises the country’s rich cultural and spiritual heritage. Constructed in 1692 to commemorate the arrival of Buddhism to Bhutan, it is revered as the country’s most sacred site.
To reach this awe-inspiring site, you’ll need to embark on a steady two-hour climb to an elevation of 10,000 feet above sea level. Don’t worry if you have young ones with you – ponies are available along the trail to transport them halfway up.
Despite the climb, the journey to Tiger’s Nest is one of the highlights of any family vacation in Bhutan. You’ll experience breathtaking views and immerse yourself in the peaceful and spiritual aura of the surroundings.
But if the hike to Tiger’s Nest seems too daunting, families can also explore other hikes that are short and steep.
The Trans Bhutan Trail, for example, is an incredible trek worth highlighting. Despite its length of 400 kilometres, visitors can customise their experience by choosing to walk specific sections of the trail.
Beginning or ending in the charming town of Trashigang, the Trans Bhutan Trail traverses the heart of the country, spanning all the way to the breathtaking western region of Haa. Moreover, this trail is open to tourists for the first time in its 60-year history, creating an opportunity for a new world of adventure and exploration.
As you traverse the trail with your guide, you and your family will have the opportunity to learn about the many fascinating mammals that call Bhutan home. Keep an eye out for these incredible creatures, as you may even be lucky enough to spot some of them in their natural habitat.
It’s a must-do activity that will create cherished memories with your family for years to come.
4. Explore The Punakha Dzong And The Suspension Bridge
One of the most beautiful sites in Bhutan is Punakha Dzong, located just two and a half hours drive from Thimphu.
As the second oldest dzong in Bhutan, Punakha Dzong has served as a fortress for administrative and monastic functions, and it is considered the most stunning dzong in the country. It holds a special place in Bhutanese history, as all of the country’s kings have been crowned within its walls.
Today, Punakha Dzong is the winter residence of Je Khenpo, the head abbot of Bhutan, and about 1,000 monks.
After exploring the Punakha Dzong, your families can take a leisurely stroll across the covered Bazam Bridge. With a length of 160 metres, it offers stunning views of the valley and the glacier-fed river below.
But the excitement doesn’t end there – if you’re up for a thrilling adventure, go rafting in the Po Chu and Mo Chu rivers of Punakha. What sets it apart is that it takes you right past the Punakha Dzong, offering views you can’t get from land. It’s a unique and memorable way to experience the beauty of Punakha.
5. Embark On A Hike To Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten
Just a short 25-minute drive from the Punakha Dzong lies a wonderful adventure that should not be missed. After crossing the picturesque suspension bridge, you and your families can take a leisurely walk alongside stunning terraced rice paddies before reaching the Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten.
This beautiful hike takes an hour or less and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes.
Along the way, visitors can witness Bhutan’s traditional way of life by seeing farmers working in the fields using traditional methods such as ox and plow. Depending on the season, the trail to Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten may offer locally grown produce for sale.
Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten was commissioned in 2004 by the beloved and esteemed Her Majesty The Queen Mother (Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuck) to promote peace and harmony. Upon entering, you will be awe-inspired by the intricate sculptures and artwork.
The climb up the steep stairs to the top level is worth it for the breathtaking views of the Punakha Valley. Be sure to step out onto the roof of Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten for an unforgettable panoramic experience.
6. Experience Bhutan’s Vibrant Festivals
Bhutanese culture is rich in symbolism and mysticism, and its roots are deep in Buddhist rituals. Tantric practices, masks, choreography, and music are all part of the fabric of Bhutanese dance.
One of the most famous Bhutanese dancers is Pema Lingpa, who is said to have performed celestial Buddhist dances that appeared to him in his dreams.
There are three types of dances performed in Bhutan: religious dances performed by monks, secular dances performed by lay people, and oracle dances performed by oracles.
With over 150 festivals throughout the year, families can find the perfect one to attend by checking the festival calendar on the Department of Tourism’s website. It’s a great way to experience the culture and traditions of Bhutan!
7. Embrace Bhutanese Culture Through Weaving
Weaving in Bhutan is a craft and an art form passed down from generation to generation. Bhutanese textiles’ intricate patterns and designs reflect the country’s history, traditions, and beliefs. Bhutanese weavers use traditional handlooms and natural fibres to create beautiful textiles that are sought after by collectors and tourists alike.
As a tourist family activity, weaving in Bhutan provides an opportunity to connect with the country’s rich cultural heritage, learn new skills, and create memories to last a lifetime.
The weaving process is slow and methodical, requiring patience, concentration, and attention to detail. Weaving in Bhutan is usually done in a family setting, with family members, especially women, working together to create a piece of cloth.
Tourists can visit weaving centres or artisans’ homes to learn about the process of weaving and its significance in Bhutanese culture. They can observe the weavers at work, learn about the different types of looms and fibres used, and try their hand at weaving under the guidance of a skilled weaver. Tourists can purchase woven textiles as souvenirs and support local artisans and their families.
8. Exploring The Buddha Dordenma
The Buddha Dordenma is a giant statue of Shakyamuni Buddha that stands at 169 feet and is made of bronze and gilded in gold. It is located atop a hill overlooking the Thimphu valley and is visible everywhere in the city. The statue is one of the largest Buddhas in the world and was built to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the fourth king of Bhutan.
Exploring the Buddha Dordenma as a tourist family activity offers a unique opportunity to connect with Bhutanese culture, learn about Buddhism, and enjoy breathtaking views of the Thimphu valley.
Visitors can climb the hill to the statue or take a cable car to the top, which is an adventure in itself. Visitors can learn about the history of Bhutan, the significance of the Buddha Dordenma, and the role of Buddhism in Bhutanese society. They can also interact with locals and learn about their way of life.
In addition to the statue itself, the Buddha Dordenma complex has several other attractions worth exploring. Visitors can walk around the beautiful gardens and take in the stunning views of the Thimphu valley. They can also visit the meditation hall and participate in meditation sessions, which Buddhist monks conduct.
9. Exploring Gangtey Valley’s Magnificent Black Neck Cranes
The black-necked crane is a rare and endangered bird that migrates to Bhutan from Tibet and China during winter. The Gangtey Valley, located in central Bhutan, is one of the few places in the world where these cranes can be seen during winter migration. The valley is an important habitat for these birds and a designated conservation area.
Visitors can watch the cranes fly over the valley or land in the nearby fields to feed. They can also take guided tours of the conservation area to learn about the cranes’ habitats and the conservation efforts to protect them.
The Gangtey Valley is also home to the Gangtey Monastery, an important religious site for Bhutanese Buddhists. Visitors can explore the monastery, learn about its history and significance, and even participate in meditation sessions conducted by the monks.
Visiting the Gangtey Valley to see the black-necked cranes is seasonal from November to mid-February. During this time, the valley is transformed into a winter wonderland with snow-capped mountains, frozen lakes, and misty valleys. The breathtaking scenery provides a perfect backdrop for a family adventure.
10. White Water Rafting Adventure in Punakha
Punakha is a district in central Bhutan known for its stunning rivers, majestic mountains, and historic Punakha Dzong. The Mo Chhu and Pho Chhu rivers that flow through Punakha offer some of the best white water rafting in Bhutan, with rapids ranging from Class II to Class IV.
The guided tours are safe and suitable for all skill levels so that the whole family can enjoy the adventure together.
White water rafting in Punakha is a seasonal activity available from March to May and September to November, which are the best times to visit Bhutan.
The weather is pleasant, and the rivers are at their best during these months. This family activity is perfect for adventure seekers who want to experience the beauty and excitement of Bhutan while making unforgettable memories with their loved ones.
11. A Visit to Motithang Takin Reserve
The Motithang Takin Reserve is a sanctuary for the Takin, located on the outskirts of Thimphu. The reserve provides a natural habitat for these animals, and visitors can observe them in their natural environment. The reserve is also home to other animals, such as sambar deer, barking deer, and serow.
Visiting the Motithang Takin Reserve is an excellent family bonding activity in Bhutan. It offers a unique opportunity to learn about Bhutan’s rich wildlife and natural heritage while enjoying the stunning scenery.
The reserve has well-maintained walking trails that take visitors through the forest, offering glimpses of the animals and the surrounding landscape. The guided tours of the reserve provide information about the Takin’s habitat, behaviour, and significance in Bhutanese culture.
12. Discovering The Beauty Of The Himalayas On A Horse Ride In Bhutan
Horse riding is a traditional mode of transportation in Bhutan and an excellent way to explore the rugged terrain and unique scenery.
The horse riding trail will take visitors through the picturesque countryside, with stunning views of the Himalayan mountain range, verdant valleys, and meandering rivers. The guided horse ride tours offer a unique opportunity to explore the hidden beauty of Bhutan away from the beaten path.
The horse ride is suitable for visitors of all ages and skill levels, and the guides will provide all necessary equipment and safety gear. The horses are well-trained, gentle, and used to carrying riders through rough terrain.
Riding horses through charming villages, historic temples, and scenic farmlands is an excellent way to witness the traditional Bhutanese way of life and create unforgettable memories with loved ones.
13. Discovering The Secrets of Bhutanese Cuisine
Learning to make traditional Bhutanese family recipes is an excellent bonding activity for families visiting Bhutan. Bhutanese cuisine is a unique blend of spicy, savoury, and sour flavours. The food is typically made with local ingredients like red rice, yak meat, and buckwheat and seasoned with chilies, ginger, garlic, and other spices.
The dishes are delicious and healthy, making it a great way to introduce your family to new tastes while enjoying quality time together.
There are plenty of cooking classes available in Bhutan, where families can learn how to make traditional Bhutanese dishes like ema datshi (a spicy chili and cheese dish), momos (dumplings), and paksha paa (pork with radish).
In these classes, families will learn how to make dishes from scratch, including the preparation of the ingredients and cooking techniques. They can even enjoy the meal they have prepared together as a family, making it a memorable experience.
It’s a great opportunity for families to experience Bhutanese hospitality and connect with the local people on a personal level. They will also take home a new skill and share their newfound love for Bhutanese cuisine with their friends and family.
14. A Biking Adventure In Bhutan’s Mountain Trails And Local Villages
Biking through the mountain trails of Bhutan allows families to experience the country’s stunning natural beauty up close. They can explore beautiful valleys, ride through pine forests, and pedal up to some of the country’s most famous monasteries, all while enjoying the fresh mountain air.
It’s a unique way to explore the country’s hidden gems, and biking provides a sense of adventure and freedom that is sure to appeal to families of all ages.
Your families can stop at local villages and interact with the friendly Bhutanese people along the way. The villages offer a glimpse into traditional Bhutanese life, and families can learn about local customs and traditions.
The locals are always happy to welcome visitors and share their culture, so biking through local villages is an excellent opportunity to connect with the Bhutanese people and learn more about their way of life.
15. Crafting Personalised Souvenirs of Bhutanese Arts and Crafts
Visitors can explore Bhutan’s 13 traditional arts and crafts, known as the ‘Zorig chu sum.’ These arts and crafts include painting, wood carving, carpentry, sculpting, textile weaving, ornament making, and bamboo weaving, to name a few.
Families visiting Bhutan will love getting hands-on experience in creating these traditional Bhutanese arts and crafts. They can customise their own souvenirs to take back home, a perfect way to cherish their visit to Bhutan for years to come.
For families looking for a more contemporary experience, the first contemporary art studio in Bhutan, VAST (Voluntary Artists’ Studio Thimphu), offers weekend art classes led by senior artists.
These classes allow participants to learn the basics of drawing and work their way through other mediums, such as acrylics, oil pastels, and watercolours. Visitors will be guided by local artisans who will teach them the skills and techniques required to create their unique pieces.
The best part about creating your personalised souvenir is that you can make it truly unique for you and your family. Visitors can personalise their art pieces by choosing their designs, colours, and materials, making it a truly special and one-of-a-kind souvenir to take back home.
16. Experience The Breathtaking Beauty Of Bhutan From The Air
A helicopter ride in Bhutan is an exhilarating experience, and the stunning scenery will take your breath away. As you soar high above the ground, you will be treated to panoramic views of Bhutan’s awe-inspiring landscapes.
You will fly over steep valleys, sparkling rivers, and pristine forests and see some of the country’s most famous landmarks from a new perspective.
The Royal Bhutan Helicopter Services Limited (RBHSL) operates Helicopter tours in Bhutan. Founded primarily for emergency medical evacuations, the company now offers private helicopter hire to tourists and visitors.
If you’re planning a family picnic, a helicopter ride with the RBHSL is a fantastic way to make your picnic extra special. You can choose a picturesque location and enjoy a delicious meal amidst the stunning views of Bhutan’s landscapes. The experience of dining amidst such serene and picturesque scenery is something you’ll cherish for a long time.
17. Playing Traditional Bhutanese Darts with Your Kids
Introducing your kids to this fun-filled community sport, such as Khuru (Bhutanese dart), can be an exciting way to keep them entertained while getting them some fresh air and exercise.
It is played with wooden darts with a sharp metal point thrown at a wooden target about 50 metres away and is often accompanied by singing and dancing. The game can be played in any open space, and you’ll find friendly locals more than happy to teach your family how to play.
The target is made up of two wooden planks that are placed vertically, with a narrow gap in the middle. The board has four concentric circles painted on it, each circle worth different points and the innermost circle worth the most points.
Playing Khuru requires skill, concentration, and accuracy, making it a fun and challenging game for families to play together.
18. Stay In A Local Guesthouse With A Bhutanese Family
Staying in a local guesthouse with a Bhutanese family is a unique and rewarding experience that tourists can enjoy in Bhutan. This activity is perfect for families who want to immerse themselves in the local culture and learn more about the Bhutanese way of life.
Bhutanese guesthouses are typically family-run establishments that offer visitors a chance to experience traditional Bhutanese hospitality. By staying in one of these guesthouses, families can taste what it’s like to live in a Bhutanese home and experience the warmth and friendliness of the Bhutanese people.
The family will typically welcome visitors with a traditional Bhutanese meal and may even invite them to participate in cultural activities such as dancing or singing.
Children will especially enjoy staying with a Bhutanese family, as they will have the chance to play with local kids and experience life from a different perspective. They can learn about Bhutanese games, try on traditional clothing, and even learn how to cook Bhutanese food.
Staying in a local guesthouse also allows families to explore the surrounding areas and experience the natural beauty of Bhutan. The family can recommend local attractions or arrange guided tours to nearby sites, such as ancient monasteries, stunning mountain peaks, or vibrant markets.
It is an activity suitable for families with children of all ages and will highlight any trip to Bhutan.
19. Learning The Traditional Bhutanese Motifs And Symbolism
A mandala is a geometric design that represents the universe in Buddhist culture. Coloured-rice mandalas are a popular form of art in Bhutan and are used in religious ceremonies and for decoration in homes and public spaces.
By creating their mandala, children can learn about the importance of this art form in Bhutanese culture and how it reflects the country’s spiritual beliefs.
Families can start by learning about traditional Bhutanese motifs to create a coloured-rice mandala. These include animals, flowers, and other symbols representing different aspects of Bhutanese culture.
Once they have chosen their motifs, families can create stencils to trace onto a piece of paper or cloth. Then, they can fill in the designs with colored rice, using different colors to bring out the details and make the designs more vibrant.
Creating a colored-rice mandala is a great family activity that encourages creativity, teamwork, and cultural understanding. Children can learn about the different colors, their symbolic meanings in Bhutanese culture, and the stories behind the traditional motifs.
The activity also teaches them the importance of mindfulness and patience, as creating a mandala requires focus and attention to detail.
The activity is educational and fun and provides a unique way to experience the rich culture of Bhutan. It’s an excellent addition to any family itinerary for a trip to Bhutan.
In a nutshell, Bhutan is the perfect destination for families who want to experience a unique and unforgettable vacation.
Proper planning is essential to make the most of your family vacation to Bhutan. Fortunately, Druk Heritage offers a range of customizable travel packages that cater to your family’s specific needs and preferences.
Our expertise in Bhutan’s culture and tourist destinations can help you design an itinerary that meets all your family’s interests.
The country’s stunning beauty, unique culture, and family-friendly activities await you, and Druk Heritage is ready to help you make your Bhutanese dream a reality.
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