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Top 12 Things to do in Bhutan

Punakha suspension bridge

Bhutan is a country roaring in the honor of its ancient culture, traditions; intact cultural monuments and unharmed environment. Bhutan is renowned as the Land of Thunder Dragon. Bhutan blesses you with a calm environment away from the hustle and bustle of other major cities around the world. Imagine a place where red hot chili is not used as a seasoning but as the main element of the food; where people still believe and follow the traditions passed to them from 7th or 8th century; where a king abdicated for the sake of his people and where happiness values more than economy. The place where your imagination comes true is Bhutan. The Last Shangri-La as it is said has its magical potion to leave anyone speechless and spell bound. Here are some things you shouldn’t miss while you’re in Bhutan:

Table of content

1. Hike up to Tiger’s Nest
2. Visit Buddha Dordenma Statue
3. Visit Chimi Lhakhang temple
4. Spot Takin at Motithang Takin Preserve
5. Admire sacred relics at Punakha Dzong
6. Archery – National sport of Bhutan
7. Honor Bhutanese soldiers at Dochu La Pass
8. Suspension bridge over Pho Chhu river
9. Indulge in the local cuisine
10. Farmhouse dinner and hotstone bath
11. Celebrate with festivities
12. National Museum

1. Hike up to Tiger’s Nest

The popularity of Tiger’s Nest aka Paro Taktsang can be defined as when you search for Bhutan in Google, the first picture you see is of this amazing monastery clinging on a side of a cliff. It hangs on a cliff 900 m over the Paro Valley. It takes about 3 to 5 hours to complete the hike. This is also a good way to test your stamina and challenge yourself. The view you get after reaching is the best reward for your hard work. It is just a 20 minutes drive from Paro.

2. Visit Buddha Dordenma Statue

Standing 51 m tall, this statue of Buddha can be seen from almost every part of Thimphu. Around this huge statue of Buddha, there are 1, 25,000 small Buddha statues. It regally sits on the top of a hill above. It symbolizes Buddhism as the dominant religion of Bhutan. You can see people praying around the statue. Visiting In early morning rewards you with photogenic view of this statue.

3. Visit Chimi Lhakhang temple

Also called The Temple of Fertility, this temple is dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kunley aka ‘Divine Madman’. It lies at the confluence of Thimphu, Punakha and Wangdue Phodrang. Here, childless couples visit in the hope to beget a child. They are blessed with a wooden phallus. On the way to this temple, there are paddy fields which make the trip to this temple more beautiful.

4. Spot Takin at Motithang Takin Preserve

The national animal of Bhutan is an odd looking species of goat which resembles the beast from ‘Beauty and the Beast’. It seems as if someone joined the body of a cow with head of a goat. Legends also have a similar story about it. Previously a zoo, animals were freed as Bhutan was against their confinement. But Takin refused to leave the immediate area which is why it was made a preserve. Except Takin, few sambars and barking deer are also seen here.

5. Admire sacred relics at Punakha Dzong

Lying royally at the confluence of Mo Chhu and Pho Chhu in the old capital, this dzong is one of the finest examples of Bhutanese architecture. There are great collections of ancient paintings, shrines and statues with an amazing view of Dzong as clear sky as backdrop. This religiously and historically fortress looks lovelier when purple Jacaranda blooms around it.

6. Archery – National sport of Bhutan

The national sport of Bhutan, archery has been gaining more popularity both inside and outside the country. It is believed that archery helps in socialization among people while the archers have more concentration for a sound mental health. Archery tournaments are widely organized in all levels mostly during holidays and festivals (tshechu). Try your concentrating power and also get a chance to interact with the locals.

7. Honor Bhutanese soldiers at Dochu La Pass

This pass lies on the way from thimphu to Punakha and gives 360 degrees panoramic view of the majestic mountains on a clear day. There are 108 memorial chortens in the honor of Bhutanese soldiers who were killed in 2003 battle. It is called Druk Wangyal Chortens which is located at the top of this pass. A small temple opposite to the chortens called Druk Wangyal Lhakhang has paintings on the wall explaining Bhutan as a place where ancient traditions meet modern technology.

8. Suspension bridge over Pho Chhu river

This is one of the oldest suspension bridges in Bhutan. As Punakha Dzong lies at the confluence of Mo Chhu and Pho Chhu, this bridge is the only way to reach there. It can give you a mini heart attack when it swings a bit more due to the wind by the flowing river. You’ll be thrilled while crossing this bridge with its beauty as it is draped by prayers flag and it’s sure that you’ll get an awesome picture for your instagram.

9. Indulge in the local cuisine

Ema Datshi is a finger licking combo of cheese, meat and red chilies that will leave you in sweat. Tibetan dumplings or popularly called momo is also a must taste cuisine. You can add a separate charm to the dish with the locally prepared alcoholic beverage Ara. For those who are not choosing alcohol, try butter tea. Restaurants in Bhutan also serve Indian, Chinese and Continental food. The Bhutanese cuisine is more fun to be eaten at a local’s home than in a restaurant.

10. Farmhouse dinner and hotstone bath

What’s greater than living a life in a Bhutanese lifestyle? A farm house dinner takes you closer to Bhutanese culture and hospitality. The hot stone bath is the best way to relax and let go off all your stress. The water can be taken to any temperature by adding the hot stones or by adding cold water. A hot stone bath is demanding activity by your body while a farmhouse dinner is a complimentary to your taste buds.

11. Celebrate with festivities

Bhutan is also called the Country of Dancing Monks. Bhutan loves to celebrate festivals. It has annual tshechus at different Lhakhangs and Dzongs. The peaceful towns become vibrant with the excitement of tshechu. The monks from different monasteries gather at one place and perform. Some dzongs are opened only during these festivals. Still you cannot take pictures inside the dzongs.

12. National Museum

The sole purpose of the national museum is to exhibit the valuable paintings, shrines and statues of the country that shows the history of Bhutan. From ancient paintings to modern thangkas, this museum has more than 3000 masterpieces. The best place to study the history of Bhutan along with the flora and fauna. The museum also displays traditional costumes, armours and things used in daily life of Bhutanese people. It provides an insight of Bhutan.

Places to visit in Bhutan

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