Places to visit in Bhutan
The top places to visit in Bhutan depend upon individual preferences and it is solely a personal choice. However, here is our list of the top 10 places to visit in Bhutan from a great many places to visit in this distinctive Himalayan kingdom.
Bhutan is an exotic travel destination with diverse places of attractions. However, only a few make it here. Everyone has their own reasons to visit Bhutan. Some are lured by the bewitching Himalayas and seek to trek the serene mountains. While others are intrigued by the unique cultural heritage. Yet some others come in search of inner peace and meditation.
Most travelers spend their time in Bhutan exploring the western region of Thimphu, Paro, and Punakha valley. While there are many remarkable cultural and historical places to discover here, there are places to venture beyond like the village of Laya village at an elevation of 3,800 meters above sea level.
Here are some of the Best Places to visit in Bhutan, including the popular heritage-infused places of Thimphu, Paro, and Punakha.
Thimphu : Bhutan’s capital city
Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan, is sprawled along the bank of Wangchu (Thimphu River) encompassed by high mountains. Thimphu is rich in culture and history and has many interesting historic places to explore. It is also home to Bhutan’s Royal Families, the seat of government, and the office of the King of Bhutan. The colorful Thimphu festival is held at Tendrel Thang of Thimphu Tashichho Dzong.
If you are in Bhutan, Thimphu is a must-visit place.
The other places to visit in Thimphu include the Textile Museum, Craft Bazar, Buddha Dordenma, National Memorial Chorten, Changangkha Lhakhang, and the busy and colorful centennial farmers’ market.
Besides the steeped in culture and history, Thimphu also has numerous rejuvenating hiking trails to explore. Some of the most popular ones are:
- Hike through Buddha Dordenma Trail to Changangkha
- Hike to Tango and Cheri Monastery
- Wangditse Hike
- Hike through Jigme Dorji National Park.
2. Paro: The Top Place to visit in Bhutan
Set at an elevation of 2,300 meters Paro is the entry point for most journeys into Bhutan. Paro is a melting pot of visual treasures, just waiting to be discovered by your eyes. The verdant paddy field, the thatched mud house, the meandering river, and dotted monasteries on the hilltop are something you cannot miss while on your trip to Paro. All these guarantees you a getaway that rejuvenates you to the core and brings you closer to nature. It lets you appreciate the beauty of this majestic country.
The valley is home to one of the most famous pilgrim sites of Bhutan, Tiger’s Nest Monastery, there are other hiking trails and many other sightseeing places.
The Places to visit in Paro include the Paro Dzong, the National Museum housed in a fortress of Ta Dzong, the Drukgyal Dzong, Hike to Zuri Dzong, and in the evening you can chill at Namgay Artisinary Brewery for different flavors of Bhutanese beer.
3. Punakha: The Golden Valley
Punakha valley has a beauty of its own. The warm golden valley, flowing aquamarine river, typical Bhutanese villages, and all-year pleasant weather make it a must-visit place in Bhutan.
Punakha is the ancient capital of Bhutan until 1955. Some of the amazing places to visit in Punakha are:
i) Punakha Dzong:
The stunning example of Bhutanese architecture, sitting majestically at the fork of two rivers, Punakha Dzong portrays the image of a medieval city from a distance.
ii) Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten
iii) Wolokha Nunnery or Sangchhen Nunnery
iv) Nalanda University
v) Talo Monastery
vi) Chimi Lhakhang
4. Gangtey Valley: The most scenic place to visit in Bhutan
Gangtey valley is also popularly called Phobjikha valley. A 3-hours drive from Punakha valley will take you to the magical land of Phobjikha valley. It is a home to Black Necked Crane that has made Phobjikha its winter home for centuries. The bird flies in from Tibet in October and November and leaves just before spring.
The place is blessed with beautiful walking trails. The other significant landmark in Phobjikha is the famous Gangtey Gompa monastery, built in the 17th century. It is a remarkable place for nature lovers.
5. Bumthang Valley: Feel The Country Air
Bumthang is a picturesque valley marked by traditional houses, open meadows, temples, and fields laden with apples, buckwheat, and barley. The place gives you the authentic feel of rustic charm.
It is also labeled as the spiritual heartland of the kingdom of Bhutan. A strong aura of spirituality pervades the atmosphere of Bumthang. At auspicious times of the year, the valley reverberates with the chants of monks in red robes. Some of the well-known temples
The place is surrounded by beautiful villages and the famous Owl Trek also begins from Bumthang.
The valley is famous for the production of honey, cheese, apples, and the yatra
Some of the places to visit in Bumthang are:
i) Jambay Lhakhang: One of the 108 monasteries built by King Songtsen Goenpo in the 7th century to subdue evil spirits in the Himalayan region.
ii) Kurje Lhakhang: Dedicated to Saint Guru Padmasambhava who was supposed to have meditated here in the 8th century.
iii) Jakar Dzong: which was initially built as a monastery in1549 and like any other administrative Dzong, it is used for civil and monastic administration.
iv) Mebar Tsho (Burning Lake): The sacred lake for the Bhutanese where Terton Pema Lingpa has discovered religious treasures in the late 15th century.
v) Ogyen Choling Heritage Manor, a museum in the far village of Tang.
If you want to get the feel of rustic Bhutan, then nothing can be more enthralling than Eastern Bhutan. It encompasses all of the country’s natural beauty as well as wonderful cultural places with a deep history ingrained in it.
The best place to visit in Eastern Bhutan would be Merak and Sakteng, the land of Brokpas, and observe their unique cultural heritage. Now there is a road that takes you to the right at the doorstep of Merak Village.
The other interesting place to visit would be Gom Kora. In sheer sanctity, it is in the league of the Taktshang in Paro, Sengye Dzong in Lhuentse and Kurjey Lhakhang in Bumthang. In terms of historical antecedents, it is perhaps unequaled. It would be doubly blessed if your holiday can coincide with the Gom Kora Festival where history and mythology help to bring alive much of Bhutan’s Culture and Tradition.
Another interesting place to visit in Eastern Bhutan would be Dramitse in Mongar. The place is popular for Dramitse Ngacham or the “Dance of the Drums of Dramitse,” which was created in this Lhakhang in the 16th century. It is also on the esteemed UNESCO World Heritage list.
Paro Taktsang is one of the most famous Buddhist sacred temples and a monastery which is situated at the cliff of the upper part of Paro Valley in Bhutan. This temple was built in the year 1692 around the cave of Taktsang Senge Samdup cave which holds a special significance in the history of Bhutan as Guru Padmasambhava has meditated in it for three years, three months, three weeks, three days, and three hours in the 8th century. Guru Padmasambhava was the first person who introduced Bhutan to Buddhism. In today’s time, Paro Taktsang is one of the thirteen Taktsang or “tiger lair” caves in which the monk has meditated.
Taktsang Goenba also is known as the Tiger’s Nest Monastery. The path of this appealing Buddhist monastery is wide and starts from the bottom of the mountain. There is a renowned Taktsang Cafeteria which is the favorite spot for the hikers to take pictures of this magnificent shrine. It takes about 5 to 6 hours to complete this trek. A facility of the horse is also available for those who get tired in the middle of the trek but it is suggested to complete it by itself because the amount of satisfaction and contentment you will get will be enormous.
You haven’t visited Bhutan if you have not been to the Tigers’ Nest monastery, so be sure to include this in your Bhutan Tour plan.
Situated at an altitude over 3,500 meters lies the exotic valleys of Laya. It is the home to Layaps, the small highland tribe of Bhutan. This small nomadic indigenous group of people survives on livestock and also on Cordyceps.
While polygamy is a prevailing practice as well, marriage among Brokpa couples is a convergence of practical consideration and sacred responsibility, with elaborate rituals to seal the union. Women are particularly well-known for their singing and they love to perform from their wide repertoire of festive songs dedicated to gods and goddesses, as well as the universal themes of nature, youth, and old age. Visiting the village of Laya will take you back to the time where men and nature lived in harmony. The best time to visit Laya would be during the Royal Highland Festival. Check the itinerary for Bhutan Royal Highland Festival Tour.
Please note there is no road that connects to Laya Village, so you need to prepare yourself for a two days trek to visit this exotic place. After all, a difficult road takes you to a beautiful place.
9. Dodeydra Monastery
Dodeydra monastery is a hidden jewel on the high mountains of Bhutan. It takes about 3 hrs to reach this hidden monastery.
The early history of Bhutan abounds with narratives of the great deeds of Buddhist masters. These stories often defy logic and modern interpretation. But such was their sway over the pool of beliefs and customs. Thus they became the very bedrock of Bhutanese culture and tradition. Dodeydra has its own history and mythology help to bring alive much of Bhutan’s culture and traditions.
The sacred monastery sits precariously within the folds of mountains. The small hermitage, the red-robed monks, and the serenity of the place are a must-visit if you’re looking for solace.
You can also choose to experience the monastic life away from the onslaught of globalization, here at Dodeydra Monastery. Read our blog on Dodedrak monastery hike
Dochula pass is located about 15 Km from Thimphu town and takes about 45 minutes drive. The 108 Druk Wangyal Chortens on the top of the mountain pass where the ridges are draped in the colorful prayer flags provide the scenic view. Also, you can choose to hang prayer flags along with your wonderful aspiration. So while you are gone, your aspiration is left behind.
On a clear day, you can get a stunning 360-degree panoramic view of the Himalayan mountain range. The view is scenic on clear winter days. The snow-capped mountains forms a majestic backdrop to the tranquility of the 108 chortens gracing the mountain pass. There is the coffee house near the pass wherein you can sip in hot coffee and enjoy the view of towering Eastern Himalayas.
For tourists, this is an ideal location to capture beautiful pictures of the Himalayan mountain range . The beauty of which is heightened at sunrise and sunset. The annual Dochula Festival is also held at this place.