Bhutan is having a well-deserved moment, and we are here for it!
Bhutan map and flag
Must-see cities, towns and landmarks
The capital, Thimphu, which lies in a valley and is surrounded by tall mountains and beautiful farmland. The riverside town of Paro, which you fly into, and which has many sacred sites and historic buildings, including the impressive Rinpung Dzong (a monastic fortress). The small town (and previous capital of Bhutan) Punakha, whose enormous and beautifully preserved seventeenth-century Palace of Great Happiness sits at the confluence of two rivers.
The Buddha Dordenma is a three-storey-high, steel statue that sits high above the city of Thimphu on a spur. Its surrounded by a dozen (much smaller) golden Buddhist goddesses. The site also offers a fantastic panorama of the city and its surrounds, and is a starting point for many great biking routes. Punakha Dzong is an enormous monastic fortress that sits tucked amongst rounded, forested mountains at the confluence of the Mo and Cho Rivers. Every spring purple jacarandas offer a splash of colour against the white walls of the fortress. It's one of the most famous monasteries in the country, a model of traditional architecture, and most definitely worth a visit! Punakha Suspension Bridge is a 160 m-long, iron-chain bridge that connects Punakha to the rest of the valley. It's a gorgeous bridge that offers wonderful views up and down the valley. Taktshang Hermitage (or Tiger’s Nest) just outside the city of Paro. This cliffside monastery is where Guru Rinpoche, the father of Bhutanese Buddhism, is supposed to have landed on the back of a tigress. you reach it by hiking up through the forest. A total must when in Bhutan!
If you want to visit just one museum to learn about the history and development of Bhutanese culture, we suggest you make it the National Museum of Bhutan in Paro.
Landscapes and wildlife
Jigme Dorji National Park in the northwest is a mountainous area with beautiful glaciers that's a hiking and trekking paradise. Its wildlife includes black bears, leopards and red pandas, among others. It's the most easily accessible park, being close to Paro and Thimphu. Royal Manas National Park in the south is considered by the Government to be the "conservation showpiece of the Kingdom". It's home to Bengal tigers, Asian elephants, gaurs (Indian bisons), pygmy hogs, and golden langurs, among many others. Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary in the far northeast ranges from 1,500 to 6,000 m. It's home to the astonishing Ludlow's Bhutan swallowtail butterfly as well as many important birds.
Amazingly, 50% of Bhutan is national parks!
Snow, clouded and Indian leopards Black panthers Tibetan wolves Bengal tigers , which have the largest teeth of any cat species Himalayan black bears , which can weigh up to 180 kg just before hibernation Ussuri dholes , a beautiful, reddish subspecies of Asian wild dog Asian wild cats , like the leopard and golden cats Red pandas (also called red cat-bears ), which are impossibly adorable and only distantly related to giant pandas Bhutan takins (gnu goats), which are the national animal of Bhutan and can best be seen at Motithang Takin Preserve just outside of Thimphu Different types of langurs (Old World primates), such as the golden langur, which is highly endangered Himalayan blue sheep (or bharals) – the males have horns shaped like an upside-down French moustache Various types of beautiful and stately deer , like muntjac, black musk and sambar deer Many other types of unusual ungulates (hoofed animals), both large and small, like Himalayan serows, Himalayan gorals and gaurs (Indian bisons)
Hikes and adventure activities
multiday treks day hikes biking through the country white-water rafting archery lessons
Raft on the Mo Chhu
Hike to Tiger's Nest
Try your hand at archery
Dagala Thousand Lakes trek
Markets and shops
The Authentic Bhutanese Crafts Bazaar (or ABC Bazaar) in central Thimphu, where you can find about 100 bamboo stalls all selling locally made goods Paro's weekend market , a small and traditional market where you can purchase Bhutanese foods like chugo (dried yak cheese), Tsirang honey and khoo (dried jellied cow skin).
Lunga Handicraft in Chang Lam, Thimphu, which sells monastic trumpets, beautiful carpets and bamboo boxes, among other things Gagyel Lhundrup Weaving Center , also in Thimphu, which sells beautiful handwoven fabrics Choki Handicrafts , which sells items produced at the famous Choki Traditional Art School – you can find paintings, thangkas and wooden boxes
We encourage you to plan your Bhutan trip to align with one of the festivals if possible. The festivals are full of amazing colour, ceremony, masks, dances and ritual.
The three-day Thimphu Tschechu , the biggest festival in the country. Colourful masked dances and religious rituals are performed inside of Tashichho Dzong. The Punakha Drubchen , which involves a recreation of the dramatic battle that took place between Tibet and Bhutan in the 1600s. Volunteers reenact the battle that saw the Bhutanese beat back Tibetan invaders. The festival is followed directly by Punakha Tshechu, so you can actually attend two festivals if you visit at this time! The Black-Necked Crane Festival in central Bhutan, which aims to celebrate and bring awareness to these endangered birds. The festivities take place in the courtyard of Gangtey Gonpa, in Phobjikha Valley, and there are wonderful crane-themed songs and dances.
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