Welcome to Bhutan, The Land of Thunderbolt!
You are about to enter a land of mysticism amidst the majestic Himalayas that is still untouched by modern influence. Also known as the Last Shangri-La, Bhutan is filled with picturesque valleys, rare fauna and flora.
Bhutan is a land that remains frozen in time and it is the world’s only carbon negative country. Bhutan tourism is restricted to high quality, low impact experiences which are pre-planned with approved itineraries and providers.
Now that you are keen to go and explore Bhutan, why not learn about some of the must-see spots and major attractions of this the last Himalayan kingdom?
Here are some of the major tourist attractions of Bhutan:
1. Tiger’s Nest in ParoParo is one of the most popular destinations in Bhutan, and its key attraction is the Tiger’s Nest, also known as Taktsang Monastery. The complex contains a cave temple inside the monastery.
This is the sacred monastery of Guru Rinpoche, a Buddhist master from the 8th century, also known as the “Second Buddha.” From here you can enjoy the panoramic views of the Paro valleys with the serene, mysterious beauty of lush green mountains veiled in mist.
2. Punakha Dzong in PunakhaThe second largest dzong in Bhutan is another key attraction, and reflecting the beautiful traditions of the Buddhist culture. The brilliant structure carries intricate paintings and sacred relics of Tibetan Buddhism.
This site contains the sacred remains of the tertön Pema Lingpa, a Bhutanese saint, and Ngawang Namgyal, the bearded lama from the 17th century who unified Bhutan into a nation state with a spiritual and legal code of duality.
3. Dochula Pass near ThimpuThis beautiful memorial pass was made to honor Bhutanese soldiers who lost their lives against insurgents from India. The Dochula Pass consists of beautifully built 108 Stupas and temples against the backdrop of the Gangkar Puensum peak.
The many tourists who visit the Dochula Pass can also enjoy views of the sacred peaks of the Himalayas such as Druk Wangyal Lhakhang temple and Chomolhari.
4. Trongsa Dzong in Trongsa districtAnother must-see spot in Bhutan is Trongsa Dzong which lies at a strategic junction that connects to Bumthang, Gelephu and Punakha. Known as one of the best Buddhist monasteries, it indeed makes a picturesque view.
The monasteries are topped with red roofs and whitewashed walls and make a striking contrast with the lush flora that surrounds it. Apart from sightseeing, one can enjoy exploring the local shops and mingle with the gleeful local crowds.
5. Gangtey Valley in Wangdue Phodrang DistrictThe Gangtey Valley is completely flat without any trees and thus creates an impression of a vast space. It is indeed one of the most stunning valleys in the Himalayas and makes for a rare experience in Bhutan.
A popular trek to the valley passes through the villages of Gogona and Khotokha, taking you through meadows, forests, and fields. You can also visit the historical Gangtey monastery, and if you are here during the winter, you’ll catch a glimpse of the graceful Black-necked Cranes.
6. Chomolhari in Thimpu
Tourists flock to Chomolhari for the famous Chomolhari trek, which is looked upon as one of the most challenging treks in Bhutan.
The arduous trek at an altitude of about 5, 000 meters, is a must for the adventure enthusiasts backpacking in Bhutan who are rewarded by splendid vistas of glacial lakes and snowcapped mountains.
7. Motithang Takin Preserve in ThimphuMotithang Takin Preserve is situated in the Motithang district in Thimphu. This is home to the famous species of takin, a cross between an antelope and a goat, the national animal of Bhutan. It is must for many travelers to visit the zoo-converted-reserve when traveling to Bhutan.
Takins are a source of traditional medicine, and the health of the animals was on a decline due to inbreeding. It is not a long trip and indeed a worthwhile one as you get to see those beautiful animals and the countryside.
8. Jakar in Chokhor ValleyAlso known as Chamkhar, Jakar is a famous attraction which is chiefly known for its trading center. Chakhar Lhakhang, the small temple here marks the site of the “Iron Palace” of Indian monarch. The famous dzong is the largest in Bhutan, and it will take one several days to cover most of the surrounding valleys.
Other key attractions in Jakar include Lhodrak Kharchu Goemba, Wangdichholing Palace and Bumthang Brewery. The only commercial cheese factory in Bhutan can be found here in the Chamkhar.
9. Wangduephodrang in Punakha
Wangduephodrang happens to be the last town on the central highway in Bhutan. The famous place is located in south Punakha and is covered with rich pastureland that is just perfect for cattle.
Wangduephodrang sits at the summit of a hill that lies at the union of Punakha Chhu and Tang Chhu rivers. The town is also famous for stone carvings and excellent bamboo products plus slate.
10. Phobjikha Valley in central BhutanTourists especially visit Bhutan during the months from late November to January to get a view of the migratory “Black Necked Cranes.” These cranes are definitely worth a visit and arrive here from Tibet. Enjoy the splendor of this valley as well as those majestic birds. Be a part of the local Black-Necked Crane festival that is held to celebrate the arrival of the endangered Cranes. The festival is held in the enclosure of Gangtey Gonpa, Phobjikha Valley.
Apart from Black Necked Cranes, the valley boasts of rich faunal biodiversity and wildlife such as barking deer, Himalayan black bear, leopards, sambar, and foxes.