Top Things to Do in Bhutan
The tranquil ‘Kingdom’ which is officially called Bhutan is a South Asian country that lies in the eastern end of the Himalayas. It shares its borders with China in the north and with India from its eastern, western, and southern sides. Bhutan is a simple yet mesmerizing land that somehow manages to touch your soul. Top Things to Do in Bhutan depends entirely on individuals’ interests. However, we have compiled the following for your reference.
The soothing climate and breathtaking views add to the beauty of Bhutan. While you travel through Bhutan you will find high mountains crisscrossing by networks of swift rivers. The extraordinary geographical diversity and the diverse climate conditions play an important role in contributing to Bhutan’s outstanding range of biodiversity and ecosystems, which are worth seeing. You can walk into the rich and vibrant culture still living in dances & songs, festival & legends.
To make your Bhutan vacation a remarkably memorable one, we have compiled Top 25 Things To Do In Bhutan. Enjoy your Bhutan Tour by adding these top things to do in Bhutan , all in a pristine natural setting of majestic mountains.
1. Join The Festival of Bhutan: Experience the Mysticism of the Himalayas
The festival in Bhutan usually takes place for 3 to 5 Days. The tapestry of colors, rainbow-hued mask dancers against the striking white monastery, decorated singers make the Bhutan Festival worth witnessing. The best place to experience Gross National Happiness in action.
The dates and duration of the festivals vary from one district to another but they always take place on or around the 10th day of the month according to the Bhutanese calendar. Check out Bhutan Festival Calendar to choose a festival that coincides with your visit to Bhutan. During Tshechu, the dances are performed by monks as well as laymen wearing ornate costumes and masks; each aspect of dance has a symbolic meaning. Bhutanese believe that one gains merit by attending any of these festivals. Some of the festivals are observed to purify the souls and ward off evil spirits, not necessarily with religious mask dance. Moreover, it is also a yearly social gathering where the Bhutanese people, dressed in all their finery, come together to rejoice, taking a break from their everyday lives.
2. Tiger Nest Hike
A visit to the Kingdom of Bhutan is never complete without a mention of the majestic Taktsang, the Tiger Lair. Seemingly perched in an impossible granite cliff face, the glorious Taktsang temple rises about 900meter from the valley floor at Paro.
There are lots of myths and magic associated with the Taktsang monastery. Guru Rinpoche, the prime deity of Bhutan, and the one who brought Buddhism to Bhutan have flown to this monastery on the back of the winged Tigress. The Tigress is supposedly the manifestation of female Dakini.
While the hike could be a bit strenuous, the view at the top is simply out of ordinary. There are pony rides available if one wishes to escape the uphill climb. Or you have the option to go to the cafeteria (halfway to Taktsang) from where you can get a good view of Tiger Nest. You can take some photographs and return them.
3. Camping-Bumdra Trek: Feel the Aroma of Pristine Environment
“Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain but all the happiness and growth occurs while you are climbing it”. This quote itself narrates the beauty of the mountains, the adventurous journey, and the joy of camping on the hilltop.
Bumdra Camping spot rests at an elevation of 3800 m. The trek starts at Sangchen Choekhor Shedra and ends at Ramthangkha (Basement of Tiger Nest). It takes about 4 to 6 hours to reach the Bumdra camping site. The terrain can be challenging due to steep ascents and sharp descents along the route. You will be traversing through the alpine forests and high altitudes. But the difficulty will be rewarded with picturesque views of snow-covered peaks, star-lit skies. It also provides you with an ample of opportunity to commune with nature.
Once at the campsite, you can freshen up and enjoy the tranquility of the place.
Next day you can visit the holy Bumdra monastery and if energetic then you can take a walk to the sky burial.
While returning you can come out through the Tiger nest route. You can also stop at Tiger Nest for some time.
There are many secluded monasteries along the trail which are off-beaten and worth visiting.
The best time to go for this trek is Mid-February to May, September , October and November. Going to a spiritual place like Bumdra Monastery will ignite the spark of peace which is inside you.
4. Spiritual & Wellness: Take stock of the deeper meaning of our lives
Spirituality not only enhances your levels of happiness but also increases your focus. It also provides you with the cosmic view of things to the deeper meaning of lives. And which place in the world can be better than Bhutan to give you the taste of Spiritualism?
Bhutan is the last Vajrayana country. Bhutan has nothing better to offer than spiritualism. The dotted monasteries hidden within the folds of the Himalayas, the sound of the bell, the fluttering prayer flags are conducive to someone seeking solace in Bhutan. Check out our Bhutan Spiritual Tour to transform imagination into reality.
5. Homestay Experiences: Be a Local
If you want to experience authentic Bhutan, Homestay is one of the best options you can go for. There is nothing more authentic than getting up with the crowing of the crows, milking cows, learning the art of preparing traditional tea Suja, and savoring the locally brewed alcohol, Ara, fried in eggs.
Moreover, at Bhutan homestay, you will get personalized service as you become the center of attraction of the hosts of the family. If you are one of those who miss home-cooked meals while traveling then you should give it a try to stay at the homestay for once. You get the opportunity to meet the local people which is indeed much more beneficial for you as locals can tell you various other historical places to visit around, which even Google fails to detect.
Staying at the homestay can be a very enriching experience for you and will give you a glimpse of Bhutanese day-to-day way of living.
6. Shopping for Traditional Textiles
When you have traveled all the way to the Kingdom of Bhutan, there is no question that you will want to take home a few Bhutanese souvenirs for yourself and your loved ones. The ABC Bazaar or the Authentic Bhutanese Craft Bazaar in Thimphu offers various ranges of gifts and souvenirs ranging from Bhutanese textiles, paintings, wooden bowls, traditional masks, hand stitched purses and bags to Bhutanese badges. Be sure to visit the bamboo huts of Authentic Bhutanese Craft Bazaar along with other Places to visit in Thimphu.
7. Try Bhutan’s Traditional Herbal & Stone Baths
An itinerary list number that is increasingly becoming quite popular is the many traditional spa therapies available in Bhutan. Hot-stone bath is a very popular form of medication practiced in Bhutan. A large wooden trough of about 4-4.5 feet length, one and half feet breadth and 2-2.5 feet height (usually vary) is filled with fresh cold spring water. Red hot mineral stones are immersed from one end. Hot-stone-bath is effective when the water temperature is relatively high. It is also believed to cure diseases like joint pains, stomach disorder, skin disease and other minor diseases.
8. Jigme Dorji National Parks: Feel the diversity of Nature
Jigme Dorji National Parks is one of the most famous and largest protected areas of 4,349 sq. km. This biologically rich area of the Eastern Himalayas starts from forests and ends in ice glaciers on the northern-west border of the country. Jigme Dorji National park is 7000 m above sea level and is named after the King of Bhutan Jigme Dorji Wangchuk. It should be on the top of your bucket list if you love to visit adventurous places. Glaciers and lakes are scattered among the mountains making this an exotic place.
Peaks like Jomolhari, Tsherimgang, and Jichu Drakey are well known and considered pious landscapes in Bhutan. Its alpine region consists of many flowers like blue poppy, edelweiss, orchids, and rhododendrons. Rare species of animals like Snow Leopard, Takin, Tiger, Balck Bear, Blue Sheep, Royal Bengal Tiger, and Red Panda. Bhutan’s most famous trekking routes lie in the Jigme Dorji National Parks.
In order to get the best of Bhutan National Parks we suggest you to take up few days Trekking Tours like Laya Gasa Trek or Jomolhari Trek. However, if you are not a trekking person you can ask your tour operator to include a short hike to Jigme Dorji National Parks from Dodena in the North of Thimphu or a hike to Tango or Cheri Monastery.
9. Farm Lunches: Enjoy Organic Meals
Bhutan is the only 100% organic nation in the whole world. The farm lunches organized in the various areas of Bhutan are special for the travelers specifically because the food which reaches their tables are organic and consists of almost 0% of fertilizers. Many farm lunches are also organized on the farm to give a feel of freshness to the tourists. Often these meals are organized in the presence of farmers where they describe the procedure of growing these vegetables and the obstacles faced by them in doing so. These collaborative lunches give an insight to the tourists about the culture and the farming methods followed in Bhutan. Based on the ‘the primary nine grains ‘ of Bhutan”, Bhutanese food includes many unique flavors and ingredients such as wild foraged bitter cane as well as a range of fermented foods.
There are several other restaurants and hotels as well which also offers fresh food directly came from the farms. Bhutan is famous for fruits like peaches, plums and pears. Apart from these other fruits which are grown in Bhutan are apples, apricots, Nashis and cherries. The vegetables which you should include in your plate when you visit Bhutan are Bamboo shoots, Fiddlehead Fern, Bhutanese Spinach, Mushroom and Bitter gourd.
10. Check Out Dzongs and Monasteries of Bhutan
Check out Dzongs and monasteries in your Bhutan tour. The castle-like Dzongs, with their gently tapering walls, classic lines, large courtyards and beautiful galleries, are among the finest examples of Bhutanese architecture. You should at least add one of the Dzongs of Bhutan in your Bhutan Tour Itinerary. You may find out that religion has an overwhelming influence in Bhutanese architecture.
Read more on Dzongs of Bhutan, the architectural treat of Bhutan
11. Get on the Trekking Trail : Into the Wilderness
Hop off your vehicle and take a trek through some of Bhutan’s most beautiful trails. The 5-day Drukpath Trek, 9-day Jomolhari Trek, and epic 24-day Snowman Trek are some of the highlights of trekking in the mystical kingdom of Bhutan. But if your trip to Bhutan is a short one then try some of the shorter day hikes around the capital like trails to Wangditse and to Phajoding which are equally exhilarating. Or you can retrace the holy path walked by divine madman by following the Divine Madman Trail.
12. Meet the Nomads of Bhutan: Best Things to Do in Bhutan
Merak and Sakten present Bhutan travelers with the unique opportunity to see two of the least known valleys in the kingdom. There are many things to do in Merak and Sakteng. Some includes
- Take a trek to the sacred mountain of Jomo Kuengkhar in Merak
- Witness the yak dances unique to the region
- Catch a performance of the famous nomadic opera, Ache-Lhamo
- Experience the stark wilderness and the simple generosity of the Brokpa people
- Learn how their traditional garb is still fashioned from yak skin
- Listen to timeless tales of the yeti which form an inseparable part of Brokpa lore.
Journey into the hidden valleys of Merak and Sakteng and discover the exquisite eastern wilderness of Bhutan
13. Bhutan Cultural Experience: Discover Unique Culture
Bhutan is “The Last Shangrila’-a paradise on earth. Our geo-location keeps us physically isolated from the rest of the world, thus making us a natural ‘Cultural Haven’ .
Once you are in Bhutan you need to experience a few of Bhutan’s rich culture and traditional heritage. Some of them can be:
Interacting with locals and monks
Visiting Dzongs and witnessing Bhutan’s rich cultural heritage
Trying out Bhutanese Outfit
Rural life experience
14. Try Bhutanese Archery
A tourist’s stay in Bhutan can often feel like being in a living museum. That is until you watch a spirited archery match where the locals use a bow and shoot at a distance more than a local farmer’s field. Archery is the national sport of Bhutan and is one outdoor activity you must not miss trying, you might have to work on your aim though.
Learn more about Bhutan Archery Festival
15. Royal Bhutan Helicopter : Heli Scenic Tour & Mountain Biking Tour
Heli Scenic Tours
The following are the top heli-scenic tours that you can enjoy while in Bhutan
1. Paro Valley Tour (30 mins Tour)
2.Thimphu Tour(30 minute helicopter ride)
3.Black Necked Crane Tour(60 minute helicopter ride)
4.Snow capped Mt.Jomolhari Tour (1 hour helicopter ride)
5.Majestic Himalayan Mountain Tour (2 hour helicopter ride)
6.Dagala Couple Tour (30 minute helicopter ride)
7.SnowMan Trek (3 hour helicopter ride)
Check out the details and the cost here
Heli Scenic Biking Tours
Experience Bhutan’s epic rural region by mountain bike with our Royal Bhutan Helicopter Tour. Get the bird’s flight view of the cycling ground from the helicopter before you ride down through the elevated alpine landscapes. There are a variety of trips downhill to suit every proficient mountain biker. Bhutan Best Inbound Tour will take you on an unforgettable back country riding adventure. There’s a ride to suit every mountain biker and if there’s not something that excites you, get in touch with us to create a personalized tour just for you.
16. Meet the monks on the hilltop
There are more than 10,000 Stupas and 2000 monasteries in the kingdom of Bhutan. Some are National treasure like Tiger Nest, Bumdra Monastery , Aja Nye and Singye Dzong.
The hermitages that are built within the fold of mountain are marvel to see. Spiritual seekers will find various of spiritual sites throughout Bhutan. Some are within easy reach and other require bit of the trek or climb.But it is fulfilling to reach top of the monasteries that marks Bhutan Landscape. And once there you can enjoy the company of little monks and the wisdom of authentic Buddhist monks.
17. Visit The National Institute of Zorig Chusum)The Thirteen Arts
Witness the magic of traditional Bhutanese Arts and craft coming to life at National Institute of Zorig Chusum. It is a school where the student learn the thirteen Arts and Craft. Zorig Chusum refers to the thirteen traditional visual arts and crafts that have been practiced for generation and passed down the ages.
The arts are expressed through painting, carving, calligraphy, sculptor, carpentry, Black smithing, pottery, weaving, masonry etc.
This is also one place where you can take camera with you and take pictures.
18. Explore Haa Valley
A visit to Haa is an opportunity to immerse into an old age tradition and Nomadic lifestyle of Bhutanese herders. This has remain unchanged by time and uncorrupted by modernity. Haa is nature’s veritable paradise on earth. You will definitely experience no small measure of moments of awe at the beauty of surreal landscape.
Miracles of nature in all its grandeur and unspoilt virginity are more than abundant amidst these luscious trees. It is a wander to see towering, mesmerizing peaks that almost touch heavens. This place can very well be the appointed zone of your Himalayan reincarnation. It takes you away from the infernal bustle chaos that define the towns & Cities, into the sacred essence of its deep rooted spirituality and mysticism. Visiting Haa would be the Top Things to do in Bhutan.
20. Day Hikes
Bhutan has the most beautiful walking trails for day hikes. You can see natural wonders that lie along the trails. The hills, mountains, and cliffs- take in the magnificent scenery of the uninhabited mountains.
You may discover secluded monasteries , crystalline brooks ,high above the clouds; you can grab the real nature’s spirit while on Bhutan Day Hikes. Check out our blog here to know more about Bhutan Day Hikes
21. Join the Retreat Center in Bumthang
A 6 Km drive from the Chumey town of Bumthang will take you to a beautifully located Retreat Center at Bumthang. The Center is located within the folds of pine forest and bountiful nature; one of the best place to visit in Bhutan. You can get the good view of snow capped mountains and it is also a perfect place to watch the sunrise and sunset.
Retreat center Bumthang was initiated by Pema Lingpa Foundation in July 2019. The main objective of the Foundation is to discuss and practice various topics on Buddhist philosophy and basic human values.
There are many spiritual and wellbeing services availaible here.
- Guided Meditation by authentic Buddhist master
- Performing Religious Ceremony
- Guided Hiking along ancient routes
The guest can also participate in hosting prayer flags, meet with Buddhist philosophy.
22. Checkout Nightlife in Thimphu Bhutan
The Night Life in Bhutan, especially in Thimphu has gone through a whirlwind of changes in the recent past. Of course there are the usual old hangouts, but of late, many new nightclubs and pubs have opened up. Adding more zest and choices to the nightlife in Thimphu. What’s new in the scene ? Plenty !!!
Popular Night Clubs in Thimphu
The popular club, Space 34 has now shifted to a new location. with the regular patrons in tow. They have upgraded themselves to a bigger space opposite to Bhutan National Bank. Another club, “MUSE” is also newly opened and has the experience of it’s own. And will strive to offer alternatives to party goers. Ace Club, Zomsa and the Viva City are other clubs adding to the whole kaleidoscope of the clubbing experience in Thimphu.
The weekend club or pub go hand in hand with the music scene, be it local or international music. Bhutanese music of late has become very popular in karaoke bar and Drayangs (live show dance performance and songs).
Karaoke & Bars in Thimphu
Come weekend and the insomniac, young and the restless have an array of places to choose from. For the matured and mellowed crowd who prefer to listen to live band while they enjoy their drinks; Tiger Lounge and Mojo Park are the places to visit. The stage at Mojo Park is presents artists, both local and international (mainly from India). For amateur like us who still prefers to be at the center stage, we highly recommend Tiger Lounge where you can karaoke to your favorite Bhutanese, Hindi or English songs.
Both places located in the main town, are the hot spots where there are high chances of spotting Bhutanese celebrities, be it singers that are currently the flavor of the season, or seasoned actors from the Bhutanese silver screen. the places mentioned here here is a good sample of the places to go and relax, sing, dance or just enjoy a drink with friends. Depending on your mood and budget Thimphu offers an array of places to choose from to while away your weekend.
23. Visit to Centennial Farmer’s Market
Visit the Centennial Farmer’s Market to experience the bustling market place during the weekends. Farmer’s from all over the country bring their produce here to sell for good price. Everything Bhutanese and locally produce can be seen on display for sale. From yak cheese to incense made from high mountain shrubs. This is one place we highly recommend tourist to visit to feel the pulse of local Bhutanese people.
24. Visit Bhutan Postal Museum & Get Personalized Stamp
Bhutan postal museum is located, in the capital Thimphu. The museum tell the story’s of Bhutan’s progress through the lens of evolution. The story is told through anecdotes and artifacts.
The museum also boasts of a great collection of stamps, which depicts images, personalities and events revered in country. The stamps paint a good picture of history of Bhutan, in addition of being aesthetically appealing to all philatelists. The post office also avails an opportunity for its customer to personalize Bhutanese stamps, whereby they can have their own picture on it.
25. Adventure: Rev up the adrenaline
The jagged and unforgiving mountain landscape of Bhutan makes it a haven for adventurer. To unplug the thrill seeker in you include mountain biking, white water rafting and kayaking in your Bhutan Tour itinerary.
The waters of Punatsangchhu river in Punakha district is best suited for gentle river rafters. The view across the banks are unsurpassed as you row pass golden fields and old manor houses. For more serious breed , the Tour of the Dragon, an annual cycling event is the ultimate show stoppers.