Top 40 Places to Visit and Things to Do In Bhutan

Fill the thrill today, visit Bhutan

Monasteries from the past, vibrant Festivals, distinct culture & heritage, landscapes that take your breath away, food that is delicious, spirituality of the highest order – It’s no surprise that Bhutan, a once-remote kingdom, has been named Lonely Planet’s Top Country to Visit in 2020.

Bhutan is divided into 20 dzongkhags, or districts. The number of districts you visit will be determined in part by the number of days you have in the nation. On a typical 5-day trip to Bhutan, you will be able to visit the districts of Thimphu, Punakha, and Paro. If you have 7 days to explore, you can go further to the charm of Gangtey, and if you have 10 days, you can travel to central Bhutan to see the magnificent Bumthang and serene Trongsa.

Speak with one of Druk Asia’s friendly travel consultants, and we’ll put together the best itinerary of the various places to visit in Bhutan based on your interests.

The following are some of the best things to see and do in Bhutan.

Thimphu

Known for its breathtaking natural beauty and unique culture, Thimphu is the administrative capital and largest city of the scenic kingdom of Bhutan

Thimphu, Bhutan’s capital and largest city, is located in the western region of the country. Thimphu is also the country’s political and economic hub, housing the majority of the country’s important political structures. Many locals from rural areas migrate to Thimphu in search of work. This vibrant city has a rustic charm and has a lot to offer to all travellers.

#1 Buddha Dordenma

The Buddha Dordenma is located atop a hill in Kuenselphodrang Nature Park and overlooks the Southern entrance to Thimphu Valley

In Bhutan, Buddha Dordenma, also known as Buddha Point, is a must-see. This 51.5 meter-tall sitting Buddha statue is one of the world’s largest sitting Buddha statues. The Buddha Dordenma statue is composed of solid bronze and gilded with gold paint, and it contains all of the 125,000 smaller Buddha sculptures that have been placed within it; 100,000 of them that are 8 inches tall, and 25,000 of them that are 12 inches tall. Visitors can enter a magnificent meditation hall with gold-painted pillars and a statue of the four-face Buddha. 

While Buddhist murals are artistically painted on the walls. You may also get a good view of Thimphu city from Buddha Point, one for your instagram feed.

#2 Tashichho Dzong

Discover your new trip, explore the capitals fortress

Tashichho Dzong (fortress), often known as Thimphu Dzong, is a magnificent monument located in Thimphu’s northern district. The throne room and offices of the king, the secretariat, and the ministries of home affairs and finance are all housed in Tashichho Dzong, which has been the seat of the government since 1952. 

Tourists are not permitted to see the Royal and government buildings, but they are welcome to visit the monastery and marvel at the dzong’s magnificent architecture. The Bhutanese national flag, which is fluttering proudly outside the dzong, is one of the first things you’ll notice when you arrive. 

If you visit Bhutan between April and July, you will be greeted with a length of vibrant rhododendron blooms along the pathway. If you arrive in March, you could be lucky enough to view the cherry blossoms!

#3 Jungshi Handmade Paper Factory

The Jungshi handmade paper factory uses traditional methods to produce the authentic
Bhutanese paper known as Deh-sho

Pay a visit to the Jungshi Handmade Paper Factory to see how deh-soh, or Bhutanese paper, is manufactured. These deh-soh papers are made in the traditional way, which has been passed down through the years. This old craft is one of Bhutan’s thirteen traditional handicrafts that are still being practiced today. 

The papers are made from the bark of the daphne and dekap trees. Deh-sho papers were first employed in monasteries for woodblock printing, manuscripts, and prayer book writing.

This is an ancient craft that you can try your hand at. Other items, such as stationery and greeting cards, can be found to create one-of-a-kind mementos.

#4 Shopping at The Craft Gallery

A showroom/sales outlet for the products of Bhutanese artisans

Visit The Craft Gallery, a store in Thimphu town, for the best Bhutanese items you’ll discover in Bhutan. The two-story boutique displays some of the finest works of art created by local craftspeople. The Craft Gallery is a project of Queen Mother Sangay Choden Wangchuck’s Gyalyum Charitable Trust.

The Gallery aims to give a sustained stream of revenue to the artists in addition to promoting high quality Bhutanese products. As a result, by purchasing from the Gallery, you are directly supporting non-profit organizations and local craftsmen.

Shawls, honey, needlework products, jewelry, and textiles are among the many local products available. If you’re looking for a one-stop shop for souvenirs for friends and family back home, this is definitely the place to go.

#5 Royal Textile Academy

The nation’s first institution dedicated to the conservation of Bhutanese textiles

Bhutanese weaving is an important component of their culture and history. You may learn about the textile tradition, numerous weaving styles, and the subtleties of Bhutanese textiles at the Royal Textile Academy. You will be able to see the various intricate designs seen on Bhutanese textiles as well as learn about the patterns that originated in various areas.

You will be able to appreciate the magnificent traditional costumes, Kira and Gho, that the villagers wear on the street after touring the center.

#6 Simply Bhutan

an interactive ‘living’ museum that gives a quick introduction to various aspects of traditional life in Bhutan

Simply Bhutan is an interactive museum that provides a wonderful guided tour of various facets of traditional Bhutanese living. This place is a great place for your induction to Bhutan.

For example, you’ll learn how to dress in traditional Bhutanese clothing, how to distill ara (rice wine), and enjoy some local butter tea while watching a local dance performance. You’ll also discover how they build their gorgeous homes out of rammed earth.

This museum’s infrastructure mostly depicts old Bhutanese architecture. The museum’s structure is made from reusing old wood, door and window frames, and other elements from demolished houses. Unlike other museums, where you are not permitted to touch or photograph the objects, you are free to do so here.You can also take part in archery and the local dart game known as Khuru.

You will also have the opportunity to meet Pema Tshering, a gifted foot artist with cerebral palsy. Pema does his wood carving and painting with his foot at a little shop inside Simply Bhutan. If you encounter him, don’t be shy about saying hello and supporting his work; he will undoubtedly greet you with his beautiful smile!

#7 Folk Heritage Museum

The Folk Heritage Museum dedicates itself to connecting people with the rich Bhutanese Folk heritage and rural history through exhibits, demonstrations, educational programs and documentation of Bhutanese rural life

The Folk Heritage Museum is housed in a three-story typical house from the nineteenth century. Visitors can see traditional Bhutanese lifestyles and artifacts in a typical household at the museum. In a typical Bhutanese home, you’ll find a collection of household products, tools, and equipment.. 

The museum perfectly replicates the rural location and atmosphere of a traditional household, with paddy, wheat, and millet fields, a traditional water mill with mill stones that is over 150 years old, and traditional kitchen gardens and hot stone baths that are famous throughout the country. After the visit, you will definitely have more information regarding the  local culture, customs and traditions.

#8 Motithang Takin Preserve

The takin, Bhutan’s unusual national animal

The Takin Preserve is a wildlife reserve area for Takin, the national animal of Bhutan. It’s also commonly known as the Takin Enclosure/Takin Zoo. The mini zoo was converted into a preserve when it was found that the Takin refrained from inhabiting the surrounding forest even when set free. 

The declaration of Takin as the national animal was based on a local myth dating back to the 15th century. Takin, a gnu goat that resembles an ox but is more closely related to a sheep, is supposed to have been created by the great Tibetan saint Drukpa Kunley, also known as the “Divine Madman.”. For most locals, Takin is said to be one of the most queer-looking animals that they have ever seen.

Tips: After visiting the Takin Preserve, request for your guide to bring you to the BBS Tower. Just a 5 to 10 minutes drive to the upper part of the road will lead to Sangaygang BBS (Bhutan Broadcasting Station) Tower at 2,685 meters. There you can have a splendid bird’s eye view of the entire Thimphu town. You will get to see a lot of colourful prayer flags surrounding the BBS tower.

#9 Centenary Farmers Market

The Thimphu market sells local produce and produce from India.

The Centenary Farmers Market in Thimphu, often known as the weekend market, is Bhutan’s largest domestic market. Farmers used to sell their produce in the open air under rows of tents before the market opened in 2008. Now it’s a two-story structure with over 400 stalls that allows farmers from all over the country to display their produce while also encouraging others to support local agriculture.

On Thursday and Friday, vendors from all across the region arrive in Thimphu and stay till Sunday evening. During these three days, when the market is most active, is the ideal time to examine the market. It’s also a great way to meet locals and learn about the ingredients used in Bhutanese cuisine.

#10 Bhutan Postal Museum

The postal museum captures the story of the evolution of communication, transportation and postal services in Bhutan

The Bhutan Postal Museum houses the world’s largest photo book and the strangest collection of Bhutanese stamps, which would pique any philatelist’s interest. There are five galleries in the museum that trace the development of the Bhutanese postal system, from the earliest mail runners to Bhutan’s often unusual and highly collectable stamps.

One of the coolest things to do in Bhutan is to get your own legal stamps from the General Post Office for 500 ngultrum (about 7 US dollars). Contains 12 stamps with a total value of 30 Ngultrum, 45 Ngultrum and 50 Ngultrum.

Go ahead to pick up some postcards and start sending some greetings and share some Bhutan love with your family and friends! Imagine the pleasant surprise of your family and friends when you send them a postcard with your face on the stamp!

#11 National Memorial Chorten

one of its most iconic monuments in the region

The National Memorial Chorten is a prominent stupa constructed in 1974 in honor of His Majesty Jiqme Dorji Wangchuck, the father of modern Bhutan and the country’s third king. With its golden spires and bells, the stupa is a conspicuous landmark in the middle of Thimphu city. The Memorial Chorten, also known as the Jangchub Chorten, is a Tibetan-style chorten with a classical stupa pattern and a pyramidal pillar crowned with a crescent moon and sun.

The distinctive feature of the chorten is the outward flaring of the rounded part giving it a pyramidal shape of a vase. Do always remember to circumambulate in a clockwise direction while you are there as with any religious structures in Bhutan. You can see many elderly Bhutanese hanging out near the large prayer wheels, catching up with one another or offering prayers with the prayer beads clutched on their hands.

#12 Dochula Pass

The pass is a popular location among tourists as it offers a stunning 360 degree panoramic view of the Himalayan mountain range.

At an elevation of 3,100 meters, the Dochula Pass connects Thimphu with Punakha. The eldest Queen Mother, Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck, created 108 memorial chortens or stupas in honor of 108 Bhutanese soldiers who died in the struggle against Assamese militants in 2003. It is one of the must-see places to visit in Bhutan.

Near the monastery is a small shrine called Druk Wangyal Lhakhang, which was established in honor of Bhutan’s fourth king, His Majesty Singye Wangchuck, who spearheaded the combat that led to the country’s victory.A Dochula Druk Wangyel Festival is conducted yearly on December 13th in the open area in front of the temple to commemorate the occasion.

This scenic spot is definitely a photography haven for the photo enthusiasts. If you are lucky and the sky is crystal clear, you can even see the gorgeous himalayan mountains from the pass including Gangkar Puensum, the highest mountain in Bhutan.The temperature will be particularly cold throughout the winter season, so remember to bring your jacket! The pass may even be snow-covered at times.

#13 Have a drink and chill at Mojo Park

The place has great live music with cheap food and alcohol

If you’re wondering if there’s nightlife in Bhutan, Mojo Park is one of the most popular pubs, attended by both locals and visitors. If you want to sit out with some chilled beers and watch local live musicians, this unassuming pub provides a pleasant atmosphere.

Craft beers, cocktails, and mojitos are also available. The pub sits in the heart of Thimphu and is open seven days a week, even “dry Tuesdays,” when the sale of alcoholic beverages is prohibited. If music and mingling are your thing, make your way to Mojo Park for a fantastic night in Thimphu.

Punakha

The main district/dzongkhag for rice production

Punakha was the capital of Bhutan and the seat of government until 1955, when it was relocated to Thimphu. Punakha is also the main district in Bhutan for rice crop production. When visiting Punakha, you will be met by stunning views of paddy fields and rice terraces. The district’s beautiful landscapes and historical sites make it one of the most popular tourist destinations.

#14 Chime Lhakhang (Fertility Temple)

Chimi Lhakhang, a dedication to Lama Drukpa Kuenly who subdued a demoness with his mighty penis.

Chimi Lhakhang (also known as Chimi Lhakhang or the Fertility Temple) is one of Bhutan’s must-see attractions! Tourists and couples from all over the world come to seek fertility blessings at the temple. This holy temple is affiliated with Drukpa Kuenley (“the Divine Madman”), a prominent Tibetan saint noted for his odd and unconventional teachings that challenged preconceived notions of Buddhism.

He is famous for guiding others to enlightenment and subduing demons with his phallus. For these reasons, you see phalluses as a symbol all over the country, from souvenirs to wood sculptures and wall paintings.

You would normally start your stroll from Sopsokha Village, where you can see shop buildings in traditional Bhutanese architecture, before reaching the temple. A few handcraft businesses provide phallic symbol souvenirs in a variety of colors, styles, and sizes! To reach the entrance of the monastery, you will have a pleasant 20-minute journey from the village, passing through a vast mustard and paddy field.

#15 Pho Chu Suspension Bridge

a masterpiece of engineering work dating back to the era of Zhabdrung Ngwang Namgyal in 1637

If you’re not afraid of heights, the Punakha suspension bridge, Bhutan’s longest suspension bridge, is a must-see. It’s the ideal place to shoot all your OOTD photos with lush green slopes as backgrounds. The 160-metre-long bridge spans the vast and turbulent Pho Chhu River.

Traditionally, the bridge was built to allow the lamas of Punakha Dzong to access the surrounding villages. Admiring mother nature while standing on the bridge with the wind brushing at you and the fluttering prayer flags brings an indescribable sensation of tranquility and peace.

#16 Punakha Dzong

Punakha Dzong was built at the confluence of two major rivers in Bhutan, the Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu,
which converge in this valley.

This majestic dzong (fortress) is the country’s second oldest and largest dzong. It was once known as Pungtang Dechen Phodrang Dzong, or “The Palace of Great Happiness.” Because of its stunning design and historic history, the Punakha Dzong is one of Bhutan’s major attractions.

Before being relocated to Tashichho Dzong in Thimphu, the monument served as the seat of the Bhutan Government. In fact, until 1955, the Punakha district served as Bhutan’s ancient capital. In 2011, the stronghold hosted the royal wedding ceremony of the fifth monarch, His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, and Queen Jetsun Pema.

If you visit Bhutan in May, you will be able to see some spectacular jacaranda blooms in the fortress courtyard. The dzong is also situated between the Pho Chhu (female) and Mo Chhu (male) rivers, making it extremely picturesque and insta worthy.

#17 Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Nunnery

perched on a hilltop overlooking the beautiful Punakha valley and Wangduephodrang valley.

The courtyard of Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Nunnery overlooks the magnificent Punakha and Wangduephodrang valleys. The nunnery was built to serve as a college for the training of nuns, and it now houses approximately 120 nuns. The two-story complex is a showcase of Bhutanese architecture at its finest, skillfully built by local artisans.

The structure also serves as a meditation center for nuns and teaches them life skills such as Thangka art, embroidery, tailoring, and sculpting. You can participate in meditation sessions and watch the sisters’ spiritual practices at the nunnery. The temple also has Bhutan’s highest Avalokiteshvara statue, measuring 14 feet tall. At the enclosure, there is also a striking chorten resembling Nepal’s Boudhanath Stupa.

18. Whitewater rafting in Punakha

The rugged, untamed waterways of Bhutan will not disappoint the adventurous seekers

If you are an adrenaline junkie or thrill seeker, you can try the whitewater rafting in Punakha. It’s a great pastime to enjoy with your friends and family. You will be rafting along crystal clear rivers and will be able to see the majestic Punakha Dzong as you pass by.

Rafting requires no prior experience as long as you don’t mind getting a little wet at the end. Everyone, including young children and grandparents, can enjoy white water rafting. What better way to spend a vacation than soaking in Bhutan’s gorgeous scenery on a raft while taking images that will last a lifetime!

 

 

 

Paro

Paro is known for its beautiful religious sites and this blue temple has to be the most beautiful of them all

Paro is a significant district in Bhutan with many sacred sites and historical buildings. It is also where the one and only international airport for the country is located. It is the perfect blend of ancient and modern charm.

#19 Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest)

Paro Taktsang (Dzongkha: སྤ་གྲོ་སྟག་ཚང་, also known as the Taktsang Palphug Monastery and the Tiger’s Nest), is a sacred Vajrayana Himalayan

This prominent Bhutanese monument is well-known around the world! In fact, a visit to Bhutan is believed to be incomplete without a trip to this spectacular temple towering 2,600 feet above the valley floor. Seeing this magnificent monastery for yourself will make you wonder just how this architectural miracle was accomplished in the 16th century! 

Depending on your fitness, the walk up and down Tiger’s Nest might take anywhere from 3.5 to 9 hours. It is best to start your hike early in order to escape the midday heat. For a smooth hiking trip, remember to pack light and comfy shoes. And, of course, enjoy the breathtaking scenery along the route and snap plenty of photos to capture your experiences!

Many locals of all ages, including toddlers as young as two years old, will be seen ascending the Tiger’s Nest. Parents with newborns on their backs or the elderly with walking sticks are common sights. They will undoubtedly act as an incentive for you to make your way to the summit!

#20 Paro Dzong

Paro Dzong, officially known as Rinpung Dzong, ‘Fortress of Heap of Jewels” was built in 1644 under the order of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal

Paro Dzong, also known as Rinpung Dzong, or “Fortress of the Heaps of Jewels,” is a well-known monument in the Paro district. You can also see it when your flight arrives at Paro International Airport.  The dzong was built in 1644 under the instruction of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel. 

It was previously utilized as a fort to defend Paro valley against Tibetan incursions. This ancient fortress is closely situated near Paro town and is easily accessible. It now contains the monastic body as well as the district government offices, as do other dzongs.

Thousands of people travel to the courtyard of the dzong in their best clothes to participate in the annual Paro Tshechu (masked dancing festival), which is normally held in March.

Paro Dzong was also used in scenes from Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1993 film Little Buddha.

#21 Kyichu Lhakhang

One of Bhutan’s oldest temples was purportedly built to halt a giant female ogre
from preventing the spread of Buddhism across Tibet

Kyichu Lhakhang (also known as Lho Kyerchu or Kyerchu) is Bhutan’s oldest and most magnificent temple. It is also regarded as one of Bhutan’s most beautiful worship destinations and a precious pearl. Prior to the renovation, the original temple was claimed to have been built overnight and was a small monument. This magnificent temple has a rather quiet and serene atmosphere that promotes a contemplative space.

You will undoubtedly feel more calm and relaxed after visiting this sacred sanctuary. Many elderly people can be seen circumambulating the temple whilst spinning the prayer wheels. Outside the courtyard, there is also a mystical orange tree that is claimed to give fruits all year!

#22 Experience Hot Stone Bath at Aum Choden Homestay

Hot Stone Baths are an ancient Bhutanese tradition and are a popular form of medicinal practice

Showering oneself with a hot stone bath is perhaps one of the most authentic Bhutanese experiences you can have in the Land of the Thunder Dragon! Aum Choden Homestay is a 108-year-old two-story traditional Bhutanese residence. It exudes a rustic appeal that will leave you feeling rejuvenated.

Those who choose to immerse themselves in the local culture may soak in a medicinal hot stone bath. Locals typically soak in hot stone baths once or twice a week, and it is believed that the hot stone bath has healing effects.

Stones are roasted over a fire and placed in a wooden bath tub. Some medical conditions, such as stomach aches, hypertension, arthritis, or joint pains, can be treated by a medicinal hot stone bath.Aside from hot stone baths, there are activities such as archery, darts, trying on traditional costumes, Gho and Kira, and watching demonstrations of Bhutanese food.

#23 Chele La Pass

the highest motorable point in Bhutan, sitting 3,988 metres (13,083 ft) above sea level

Chele La Pass, at 3810m (13,000ft), is Bhutan’s highest mountain pass, located between Paro and Haa valley. The route to the pass takes you through either the Paro or Haa valleys, both of which are densely forested. If you’re fortunate and the skies are clear, you can see Mount Jomolhari, Jichu Drake, and other peaks from the pass.

The greatest time to visit Chele La pass is in the spring, from March to June, when lovely rhododendrons greet you along the way. However, during the winter season, you may enjoy breathtaking views of the snow-capped mountains. The breathtaking mountain views and lush green valleys will undoubtedly captivate you.

Haa Valley

Haa Valley is cozily nestled amid the lofty mountains of Western Bhutan.
Surrounded by the districts of Paro, Chhukha and Samtse

Haa is one of Bhutan’s most beautiful and unspoiled areas, with undisturbed natural beauty. It is one of Bhutan’s smallest districts and least populated valleys. Haa is also known as the Hidden Land of Rice Valley. If you’re seeking a peaceful getaway, Haa valley is a terrific place to unwind and embrace some tranquility.

#24 Exploring Haa Valley

Haa is a narrow valley at the height of 9000ft but a very peaceful place

You can take a walk along the Haa Chu river, which passes through the valley’s heart. Haa valley also has a couple of wonderful picnic sites and is a great spot to go bird watching. You will also go through Bhutanese villages, across rice fields, and see traditional wooden dwellings. Rice, barley, and wheat are the main crops grown in Haa valley.

Haa valley is also a hiker’s and trekker’s paradise, with some of the best trekking and mountain biking routes organized around this area. The Haa Summer Festival, which is normally held in July, is one of the most popular festivals for the Haa tribes, nomads, and residents.

Gangtey / Phobjikha valley

The wonders of Phobjikha valley

Gangtey, also known as Phobjikha valley, is a U-shaped valley with breathtaking views and an abundance of yaks that travel from higher altitudes in search of warmth from the freezing weather. Including its bright blue skies and chilly weather, winter is the ideal time to visit Gangtey. The weather can also be rather severe at times.

Make sure to pack some thick winter clothing to keep you warm. Aside from winter, Gangtey is also a great spot to visit in the spring (March – May) because of the gorgeous blooming in the valley and the wonderful weather conditions.

#25 Experience Black-necked Cranes Festival

They are the subject of Bhutanese folktales and songs, and are painted on the walls of temples throughout the country

The black-necked cranes festival is held every year on November 11, which also happens to be the birthday of the fourth king, His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck. It’s a spectacular event organized in the courtyard of Gangtey Goemba (Monastery) to commemorate the arrival of the endangered and majestic bird from the Tibetan Plateau.

The black-necked cranes are among the world’s rarest cranes, and they migrate to the Phobjikha valley throughout  the winter months from October to February. The black-necked crane is cherished as a sign of longevity, and it is honored and safeguarded by local people.

The black-necked crane festival is one of Bhutan’s most well-known events, showcasing Bhutanese cultural history through masked folk dances and songs while also raising awareness about conservation issues.

#26 Gangtey Goemba

an important monastery of Nyingmapa school of Buddhism, the main seat of the Pema Lingpa tradition

Gangtey Goemba, also known as Gangtey Monastery, is a lovely temple located on a mountaintop with breathtaking views of Phobjikha Valley. Pema Lingpa, one of Bhutan’s most famous treasure finders, constructed the shrine in 1963.

Not only do residents visit this humble and simple temple, but black-necked cranes can be seen circling it clockwise three times a year (when they arrive and before they depart from their winter residence). How sacred and mystical!

#27 Gangtey Nature Trail

immerse yourself in the alluring beauty of the Phobjikha Valley

In comparison to Tiger’s Nest, the Gangtey Nature Trail is a comparatively easy 4km hike. It takes 1.5 to 2 hours to finish and is one of the most popular options for tourists who prefer taking leisurely walks in nature. It also begins immediately below the Gangtey monastery, making it one of Bhutan’s shortest nature routes.

The journey will take you downwards through the pine forest to Semchubara, a small traditional village. The road will continue through the valley’s principal marshes before arriving at Khewa Lhakhang. You’ll be travelling through some of the valley’s most beautiful scenery. You can also see majestic black-necked cranes flying across the valleys if you visit during the winter season.

#28 Ten Khor Yuetshe Trek

ideal for those who wish to soak up the quaint surroundings of the Phobjikha Valley in a relaxed manner

This stroll takes you through a cluster of beautiful rural villages at a leisurely pace. As you travel through the stunning valleys and vast open plains of Bhutan, you will be able to observe traditional Bhutanese rural life. This trail is slightly longer than the Gangtey Nature Trail, and it will take you about 2-3 hours to complete.

Instead of following the path leading down the valley, this trail continues on a dirt road upwards into the first left side valley, where it will lead you into Jangchu Kemba Village. From there, you’ll descend through the marshland at Khewa Lhakhang on a path that takes you to charming settlements.

Bumthang

Bumthang literally translated as ‘beautiful field’ is one of the most historic districts in Bhutan where some of the oldest and most venerated Buddhist temples are founded including Jambay Lhakhang.Bumthang, commonly known as Jakar, is a central Bhutanese district. Buddhism was introduced to Bhutan for the first time here.

The district comprises four valleys: Chokhor, Tang, Chhume and Ura. Bumthang is also famous for the production of wheat, buckwheat, dairy products and potatoes. You can witness plenty of apple orchards and dairy farms.

#29 Kurjey Lhakhang

Three ancient temples, the Guru Lhakhang, Sampa Lhundrup Lhakhang, and Ka Gon Phor Sum Lhakhang, are enclosed by 108 chorten walls and nestled on the side of a hill. This vast temple complex is immersed with religious importance. The upper level of Kurjey Lhakhang has 1000 tiny statues of Guru Rinpoche, which serve as the main attraction.

 It is also said that behind a wall on the floor leads to a meditative cave that is prohibited for public access where Guru Rinpoche meditated for three months in the 8th century. Near the temple’s entrance is a massive cypress tree that is said to have sprouted from Guru Rinpoche’s walking stick.

#30 Jambay Lhakhang

According to legend, this temple was one of the 108 temples built in a single day by Tibetan King Songtsen Goenpo in 659 AD to pin down the body of a demon. According to legend, Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo constructed a series of temples around the Himalayas to help pin down the various parts of the ogress.

Four of them were built to pin down her shoulders and hips; four more on the elbows and knees; and four to hold down her hands and feet. It was believed that Jambay Lhakhang was built to pin down the left knee of the ogress. The one storey complex is famous for its annual festival Jambay Lhakhang Drup as much as for its legends. The festival is held to honour Guru Rinpoche who consecrated the Jambay Lhakhang temple.

#31 Jakar Dzong

 a picturesque location overlooking the Chokhor valley; the current structure was built in 1667.

The Bumthang district’s dzong is Jakar Dzong, also known as Jakar Yugyal Dzong. It’s in the Chamkhar (Chokhor) valley of Bumthang, on a ridge above Jakar town. The name Jakar refers to a white bird, therefore Jakar Dzong is known as the Fortress of White Bird. A white bird is supposed to have flown and perched on the ridge where Jakar Dzong is located. This was interpreted by a lama as a good omen.

 Traditionally, the Dzong played an important role as the fortress of defence of the eastern districts. It was also the seat of the first king of Bhutan.In comparison to other fortresses in the country, the fortress has two distinguishing traits. The Utse (central tower) is 50 meters tall, and the castle includes two parallel walls, united by reinforced towers, that give water to the population in the event of a siege.

#32 Burning Lake Mebar Tsho

one of the most sacred sites in the region as it is related to the renowned
religious treasurer (Terton) Terton Pema Lingpa

This beautiful freshwater lake is also a popular attraction in Bumthang. This picturesque lake is surrounded by colourful prayers flags and there is a small altar dedicated to Pema Lingpa, the famous treasure revealer. It is said that Pema Lingpa jumped into the lake and re-emerged with a chest and a scroll of paper with a butter lamp on his hand. The locals also offer butter lamps at the lake during special occasions. 

There are also stacks of tsa tsa (small conical clay moulds) that can be found around the lake area. Tsa tsas are believed to carry spiritual power and are often engraved with Buddhist symbols and sometimes contain human ash or bone. Each tsa-tsa is an ancient prayer for the well-being of a beloved human – living or departed. The locals believe that these miniature stupas evoke the same powers as the largest stupas. You can also see tsa tsas outside the fortresses, chorten or temples.

#33 Bumthang brewery and cheese factory

Take a sip of the famous red panda beer – Hefeweizen style beer brewed by Bumthang Brewery, Ltd. in Bumthang, Bhutan

The micro-brewery and Swiss Farm in Bumthang was founded by a Swiss national, Fritz Maurer in 1996. Fritz married a Bhutanese and went on to set up the first of its kind brewery in Bhutan, producing draught beer, apple cider, wine, apple brandy and juice. This is also the brewery that produces the famous Bhutan beer “Red Panda Beer”, an unfiltered, preservative free brew. The beers are prepared in an old school manner. 

Aside from the brewery, there is also a swiss farm that produces a variety of swiss cheese and is the only commercial cheese factory in Bhutan. Fritz Maurer is also credited for the introduction of the use of modern farm equipment, green technology that is fuel efficient and smokeless wood stoves that are widely used in Bumthang and Bhutan today. Both the brewery and cheese factory are located next to each other, so feel free to pop over for some beer and cheese when you are in Bumthang.

#34 Yathra weaving centre

art of weaving is a profound metaphor for understanding the workings of the universe and our place in it

Yathra is a colourful wool weaving with intricate patterns native to Chumey valley in Bumthang. Traditionally, every household in Chumey owned a backstrap loom and young girls were taught how to weave. Yak and sheep wool were used for the weaving due to the thick fabric that is ideal for the cold weather in Bumthang.

You can see women skillfully weaving the intricate designs on their backstrap loom at the Yathra Weaving Centre in Zugney and witness the dyeing of wool using natural dyes. The women in communities weave throughout the year as it is their main source of income. Thus, yathra products are uniquely souvenirs from Bumthang.

Trongsa

Trongsa provides a strategic central location to control Bhutan and for centuries it was the seat of the Wangchuck dynasty of penlops (governors)

Trongsa, formerly known as Tongsa, is the capital of Trongsa district located in central Bhutan. Historically, Trongsa district is one of the most important districts as it was the headquarters for the eastern region and the seat of the Trongsa governor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

#35 Trongsa Dzong

The Trongsa Dzong, which was built in 1644, used to be the seat of power of the Wangchuck dynasty before they became rulers of Bhutan in 1907

The magnificent trongsa dzong is easily noticeable from anywhere in town. This historic fortress was established in 1644 and served as the home of the Wangchuck Dynasty before they became Bhutan’s rulers in 1907. Historically, the King of Bhutan first became the Trongsa Penlop (governor) before becoming the Crown Prince.

This magnificent dzong, built on a spur above the Mangdi Chuu river canyon, is Bhutan’s greatest stronghold. The dzong is one of the most outstanding in the country due to its scale, strategic position, and grand architecture.

 

Other things to do in Bhutan

#36 Trying out Bhutanese traditional costume, Kira and Gho

The national dress of Bhutan is called the gho for men and kira for women. It was introduced during the 17th century by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel to give the Bhutanese a unique identity

Everywhere you walk in the country, you will see natives proudly wearing their traditional clothes. It’s no wonder that many visitors to Bhutan wish to bring home a set of Kira or Gho as a souvenir.

During your trip, you can learn to wear the traditional costumes, Gho and Kira and find the best spot for a photoshoot session. Though it is said that getting a bad shot in Bhutan is impossible! It doesn’t matter where you point your camera, you’re guaranteed to get a postcard-worthy shot.

*If you are travelling with Druk Asia, you will be given a set of traditional costumes upon your arrival. The costume is to be returned to your guide at the end of the trip.

#37 Have a game of archery

Archery in Bhutan is a local and distinctive martial art that has been used for both fun and fighting for centuries

Archery was made the national sport in Bhutan 1971 when Bhutan became a member of the United Nations. Archery is a huge element of Bhutanese culture, and you can always find guys playing archery with their mates all around the nation.

If you want to practice archery, just let your guide know and he or she will be able to fit this into your schedule. There are numerous locations in Bhutan where archery can be practiced.

#38 Indulge yourself in Bhutanese Food

 Bhutanese cuisine is influenced by Chinese, Tibetan and Indian culture.
Don’t be surprised to see mountains of rice being served

When you visit Bhutan, you should prepare your stomach to savor the delicious Bhutanese cuisine. Bhutanese people adore chilies, so if you enjoy spicy food, rejoice! Because Bhutanese take their chillies seriously, you’ll be offered ema datshi (chilli cheese) virtually every day.

Ema datshi is also Bhutan’s national dish. Even if you aren’t a fan of spicy foods, you should give it a try at least once! After that, you might want to hydrate yourself with some butter tea. Other cheese dishes include kewa datshi (potato cheese) and shamu datshi(mushroom cheese).

Shakam (dried beef), phaksha paa (sliced pork), ezay (chilli condiment), and vegetables such as ferns, turnip, spinach, pumpkin, and radish are all traditional Bhutanese foods. Vegetarian food is also easily available throughout the country.

#39 Attending a Tsechu (masked dance festival)

Tshechu are annual religious Bhutanese festivals held in each district or dzongkhag of Bhutan on the tenth day of a month of the lunar Tibetan calendar

Festival season is unquestionably one of Bhutan’s biggest events. The Mask Dance Celebration, also known as Tshechu, is Bhutan’s most important religious festival.It is held annually in the monasteries and dzongs from all the 20 districts in the different months of the year to honour Guru Rinpoche who brought Buddhism to Bhutan in the 8th century. A Tshechu typically lasts for four or five days. 

It is observed on the tenth day of the Tibetan lunar calendar, which corresponds to Guru Rinpoche’s birthday. As a result, the exact dates of the Tshechu differ from year to year in different areas. The most popular Tshechu for tourists are in Paro during spring (Feb – May), as well as in Thimphu and Bumthang during autumn (Sep – Nov).  Thousands of residents will be dressed to the nines in their finest attire for the celebration.

40. Trekking in Bhutan

Bhutan trekking or tours will take you on a journey through the country’s ancient history

Bhutan is undoubtedly a paradise for hikers and trekkers as it is home to many breathtaking mountains. Due to the excellent climate, spring is the most popular season for trekkers to visit Bhutan. You can also go trekking in the winter if you want to avoid the crowds and have a more solitary experience.

Bhutan’s Himalayan mountains include Jitchu Drake, Jomolhari, Kangphu Kang, and Gangkhar Phuesum(the world’s highest unclimbed mountain) . The following are some of Bhutan’s most popular trekking trails.

Would you be interested to learn more about Bhutan, you can msg or call us on whatsapp and our travel advisor (+975 1714 0163) will be glad to assist you answering all your questions and guide you in planning your ideal getaway to Bhutan with us.

On arrival in Bhutan, your personal local english speaking guide will be there to receive and welcome you. You will be greeted by our traditional handwoven colorful scarves and a free sim card with an internet package so you can call your friends and family to say you have arrived in one of the happiest countries in the world. 

Since you are here, read a little of some of our engaging blogs we have for you. 

Have a good one. 

To learn more about Top places to visit in Bhutan please visit us; www.drukheritage.com

Are you struggling to plan an ideal holiday? Click the link to learn about step by step guides to planning your ideal holiday.

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