Places to visit in Bhutan

With tons of monasteries and Buddhist sacred sites, Bhutan is a haven to explore Buddhism and spirituality. From understanding different schools of Buddhism to opening your senses to compassion and peace of mind, the impact that Bhutan can leave you with when you get back home is phenomenal. The more you learn about the Buddha and his teachings, the clearer your thoughts process becomes. Also, with the number of monasteries you will get to visit in Bhutan and the monks you will talk to on your way will give you a glimpse of what peace of mind feels like. 

Apart from monasteries, Bhutan is also for the adventurous souls out there who want to indulge in some river rafting activities or explore the higher altitude mountains of the eastern Himalayas through treks and hikes. For the more intellectuals, the history, heritage and culture of the place will enlighten you with newer aspects and facets of life. The rich flora and fauna of Bhutan also deserve an appreciation, where everything that you see here connects directly to your travel spirit and touches your soul that rarely happens in any other country. When here, don’t forget to visit our top recommendations. Plan a trip and don’t forget to get yourself the Best Travel Insurance for Asia at Thomas Cook.

Or literally translating to Tiger’s lair, the Paro Taktsang is also known as the Tiger’s Nest and is one of the first images you will get to see when you Google Bhutan. The picturesque monastery is nestled between mountain cliffs and valleys and is situated at an altitude of 3,120 meters above sea level. According to legends, Guru Rinpoche flew from Tibet to here on a tigress and hence the name. This is the birthplace of Buddhism in Bhutan and is very significant, sacred and one of the must-visit attractions in Bhutan.

 

Location

Taktsang trail, Bhutan

 

Known for

Being the birthplace for Buddhism in Bhutan, a sacred site, home to one of the oldest monasteries and location of the sacred site on a cliff

 

How to Reach

The Paro Taktsang lies approximately at a distance of 10 kilometers from Paro and you can easily get a cab at from there. The taxi will take you until the last motorable stretch which is either the parking lot or the beginning of the monastery’s path. The remaining distance has to be covered on foot or on a horseback if you feel trekking is quite tedious. 

 

Approximate Cost

From Paro, you can get a cab at approximately Rs. 800. The approximate price for a horse ride is Rs. 1000 per person and you can reach the monastery within 90 minutes. On foot, it takes up to 3 hours depending on the number of breaks you take. 

 

Operating Hours

8:00 AM to 1:00 PM and 2:00 PM to 6:00 PM

 

Any Precautions

Always carry adequate water and snacks to keep up your stamina through the trek. There are eateries and cafes along the way. Carry a trekking stick, a hat, sunglasses and sunscreens and dress conservatively before entering the monastery. Do not photograph within the temple premises and maintain silence. Also, do not take a horse during the rainy season as the terrain gets slippery and risky for a horse ride. 

 

Type

Buddhist Monastery

An extension of its Indian counterpart, the Royal Manas National Park is a nature reserve and a wildlife park that is home to over thousands of species of flora and fauna, including diverse indigenous species. The park was very recently opened to publicand it shares its boundary with the Manas National Park in Assam, India. It is a protected area and houses several endangered species from around the world. Besides, it is also one of Bhutan’s oldest protected areas.

 

Location

Bhutan

 

Known for

Housing several endangered species of fauna and approximately 40 tigers. It is also a transnational biosphere reserve and has animals like Himalayan black bears, Gangetic dolphins, clouded leopards, one-horned rhinoceros, rare golden langurs, and more.

 

How to Reach

Reaching the Royal Manas National Park is quite tedious considering its location and route. From Paro, you need to reach Zhemgang, which is about approximately 130 kilometers. From there, another 3-hour drive will lead you to Gomphu, from where a trail will take you to the Panbang village.

 

Approximate Cost

NA

 

Operating Hours

9:00 AM to 5:30 PM

 

Any Precautions

Carry your camera but ensure your flash is off when taking pictures. Do not wear bright clothes during the safari. It is best to visit during the months of November through March.

 

Type

Animal Sanctuary

RinpungDzong, or the RinchenPungDzong in Paro literally translates to a fortress that is constructed on a heap of jewels. The place is known for its surreal architecture and location on the cliffside. It has made it to Bhutan’s list of tentative UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is home to the government and monastic bodies. Constructed in the 16th century, the place is flocked by tourists for its chapels and construction. Though most chapels in the dzongare restricted from tourism, the place is still worth the visit for the glimpse of the legacy it carries. 

 

Location

Paro, Bhutan

 

Known for 

Being a reflection of an era of architectural excellence and for being the venue for an annual festival conducted during Bhutanese lunar calendar’s second month. 

 

How to Reach

Located very close to the city of Paro at around one kilometer, you can take a cab or simply walk down to the place from the city. There is a quality ascend to the top of the Dzong so you have to make sure you can make it to the top without any trouble. You need to cross a suspension bridge over the Paro river to gain entry to the place from where the place becomes very idyllic.

 

Approximate Cost

Entry Free

 

Operating Hours

8:00 AM to 6:00 PM

 

Any Precautions

Carry water and snacks if you feel difficulty in climbing up to the top. Take frequent breaks and appreciate the architecture as you make your way up. Dress conservatively and carry a camera.

 

Type

Landmark

The National Museum of Bhutan stands as a testimony to art’s timelessness. Home to some exquisite Bhutanese art, the National Museum is the present’s bridge to the past and a glimpse to the country’s rich cultural and traditional background. 

 

Known for 

Possessing over 3,000 pieces of art by Bhutanese craftsmen and preserving over 1,500 years of Bhutan’s heritage. The museum also houses bronze sculptures and paintings.

 

How to Reach

From the main city of Paro, the museum is located at a distance of approximately 4 kilometers via the Dop Shari Valley. Taxis ply from the city to the museum and can cost you approximately Rs. 300 to 500. 

 

Approximate Cost: 

Entry Free

 

Opening Hours

9:00 AM to 4:30 PM and up to 3:30 PM during the winters

 

Any precautions

Cameras are not allowed inside the museum and the place remains closed on national holidays.

 

Type

Museum

Why you should attend this event

This is perhaps one of the biggest and grandest festivals celebrated in Bhutan. Locals in their new attires visit the capital for the festivities and head to the fortress, where stages for dancing are set up and people perform their traditional dances and customs. It happens during the month of September.

 

Who should visit?

If you love to study diverse cultures and public gathering and festivities excite you, there is no better event in Bhutan than the ThimphuTshechu.

Why you should attend this event

If there is one festival that offers a glimpse of the nomadic lifestyle of the locals, it is the Haa summer festival. Happening in one of the most picturesque valleys in Bhutan, the event marks the gathering of the locals over dance, sports, music and local food. It happens in the month of July.

 

Who should attend this festival?

Those looking forward to taking part in the festival can attend this and participate in some of the sports like yak riding and try their hands on indigenous cuisines and delicacies during this festival.

One of the best things to do in Bhutan is trekking. We can constantly keep shedding light on how beautiful the mountain ranges of Himalayas are the extent to which the holy mountains are significant to the place. Yet, there will be nothing like visiting the mountains personally and feeling the soil and snow beneath the feet first-hand. That’s why we suggest you get on some of the most renowned Himalayan trails of the region and experience the fresh and frosty air, be amazed by the gigantic peaks of the mountain range, stumble upon the Himalayan wildlife, pass on via glacial waters and evolve as a person from within. From day hikes to over 15-day trails, you can find your match here in Bhutan. 

 

Location

Druk Path Trek, JomolhariLayaGasa, NabjiKorphu, MerakSakteng

 

For

Groups of friends and solo travelers

 

Difficulty Level

Moderate to Difficult

 

Approximate Cost

Depends on the duration and the tour operator. Approximate prices starting at Rs. 20,000.

 

Why you should do it

Bhutan is home to one of the magnificent facets of the Himalayas which are inaccessible in India. You have to gain access to them and get to see them personally only from Bhutan. If you can’t do it here, you can’t do it anywhere.

 

Tips

Read the instructions of your tour operator carefully and make a note of everything you need to bring for the treks. Ensure if they will provide sleeping bags and climbing gears or if you have to make your own arrangements. Go ahead only if you are physically fit and undisturbed by altitude changes.

If you have done river rafting in the Indian states like Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, you would definitely want to seek the thrill of riding through the glacial waters of international frontiers. In Bhutan, you will be rafting on the waters of Mo Chhu River, traversing through picturesque gorges, valleys and mountain views. Depending on your travel operator, you can choose between a 10-kilometer and a 16-kilometer trail.

 

Location

Mo Chhu River

 

For

Groups of friends and solo travelers

 

Difficulty Level

Moderate to Difficult

 

Approximate Cost 

Approximate prices starting from Rs. 3,000 per person

 

Why you should do it

To feel the rapids and the swirling of waters on inflatable boats. It is a rejuvenating experience and something you will be proud of accomplishing when in Bhutan. It is fun and the views of your surroundings are unparalleled.

 

Tips

Leave any valuable items including wallets, cameras and travel documents on the shore and go empty on the water. You are bound to get wet. Wear the life jackets and listen to the instructor. Unless you have a GoPro, consider leaving your cameras behind. If possible, ask for good deals if you are more in numbers.

One of the best places to devour some authentic Bhutanese delicacies is the Babesa Village Restaurant. With its cozy ambiance, the restaurant is welcoming and serves the best of local delicacies. With a sit-down table style, you will eat in a Bhutanese house turned into a restaurant, making your meal all the more special. Head to the place for some soul-stirring food. The place is veg-friendly as well. 

 

Must Eat

Seaweed soup, glass noodles, butter tea, pork ribs and stir-fried vegetables

 

Approximate Cost for Two

Approximately Rs 600

 

Address

Thimphu Express Way, Thimphu, Bhutan

 

Contact

+975 17 16 36 60

 

Opening Hours

10:00 AM to 10:00 PM

Probably one of the most-rated restaurants in Bhutan, this place is definitely a crowd puller and a fan favorite. Known for its authentic Bhutanese and Asian cuisines, the place is also vegetarian-friendly with vegan options as well. The place is located in Paro and if you ask your hotel about the restaurants you can visit for good food, their list won’t end without My Kind of Place finding a mentioning. If you are with your family, date or your friends, go to this place for a gastro-delight.

 

Must Eat

Tibetan bread, salads, dumplings, buckwheat and chicken curry

 

Approximate Cost for Two

Approximately Rs. 800

 

Address

Main street, Paro 12001, Bhutan

 

Contact 

+975 77 41 17 84

 

Opening Hours

9:00 AM to 10:00 PM

In the prime area of Thimphu rests a place renowned for its live music gigs and a happening nightlife. On weekends, local bands from around Bhutan come and perform at the place called Mojo Park which is one of the best places to party in Bhutan. Visited by locals and tourists alike, this is different in its setting from other night clubs in the market and offers a laidback vibe, ending up as a great place to hang out with friends.

 

Must Try

Beer and cocktail selections, rice wine

 

Opening Hours

11:00 AM to 11:00 PM

 

Location

Thimphu, Bhutan

Popular for all good reasons, Space 34 is the perfect place to dance, drink and have a great evening after treacherous treks and hikes to the mountains. With live bands performing in the place, you have an amazing dance floor, a live music bar and a smoking bar for that perfect evening. Sophisticated, the place is for tourists and locals and is known for its ambiance during the weekends. 

 

Must Try

Cocktail selections and finger food

 

Opening Hours

9:00 PM to 1:00 AM

 

Location

Thimphu, Bhutan

Location

Thimphu’s Weekend Market, Chhogyal Lam, Thimphu, Bhutan

 

Timing

7:00 AM to 8:00 PM on Saturdays and Sundays

 

Known for

Though crowded to the core, the place is organized like no other. Located very close to the Changlimithang Stadium, the market sells handicrafts, incense sticks, saffron, spices, dried fish, fatty pork strips, wild honey, jackfruits and more.

 

Bargaining

You can bargain to an extent during the peak season. But try not to as they are indigenous producers setting up stalls only during the weekends.

For those of you who love to read, this is the perfect shopping paradise in Bhutan. Charming at every levels, this is beyond a bookstore and is an avenue for readers to talk and discuss literature, popular culture and all things books. 

 

Location

Near Main Traffic Circle, Hogdzin Lam, Thimphu, Bhutan

 

Timing

10:00 AM to 8:00 PM

 

Known for 

Books, book clubs, discussions on literature and an attached café

 

Bargaining

No bargaining at the Junction Bookstore. You can drop the books you have read here if you want.

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