The Land of “Druk Tsenden” or the Kingdom of the Thunder Dragon as the locals call it, is one of the smallest scenic lands in the world. Nestled at the foot of the Himalayas, Bhutan has a robust tourism sector which accounts for the majority of its foreign income. In this article, we examine the best places to visit and fun things to do in Bhutan, the land of dragons.
Top 8 Tourist Destinations in Bhutan
The Land of the Thunder Dragon is blessed with natural beauty and scenic spots. From local cuisines to breathtaking highlands, this small country in the Himalayas offers everything for wanderers. And if the view isn’t for you, the love and sincere attention from the people. Your Bhutan travel itinerary should include the following places.
The royal capital Thimphu
The first place to start the Bhutan itinerary should definitely be the royal capital. The place brings a unique blend of Bhutanese tradition, culture and intertwining with nature. The town itself is at an altitude of over 2500 meters. So expect lots of mountain ranges in and around every corner.
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Notable places to visit include the Folk Heritage Museum, Buddha Point, the Farmer’s Market, and the Dochula Range and Taking Preserve.
The best way to get into town is by bus or private car, as the nearest destination is Paro airport, 54 km from the capital.
We started the list with the capital of Bhutan. But people wishing to deeply explore Bhutanese culture should start their itinerary from Paro itself.
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The most famous being the Last Shangri La of the world, the Tiger’s Nest. Known locally as Paro Taktsang, this centuries-old monastery sits on the edge of a cliff at an altitude of 2950 meters. Getting there is not easy either as you will need to gear up for at least 2 hours of walking.
In addition to this, Zuri Dzong Fort and Chele Pass are other notable places to visit in Paro. By visiting this place, you will see a deep connection with Buddhism as the locals hold most of these places with sacred reverence. So be careful not to violate the centuries-old customs of these places.
Getting around Paro is quite easy as there are rental cars right at the airport with adjoining hostels.
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The Trongsa Valley is located in central Bhutan. The place is famous for the Trongsa Dzong which is the largest and one of the oldest monasteries in the region. The Dzong is shaped like a flying dragon with its intricate design and unique pattern. It is hard to imagine that artists perfected this craft with limited means at the time.
Beyond the mesmerizing Dzong, there are sweeping views of the lush Himalayan range. The Trongsa Valley is also nicknamed the balcony of Bhutan as visitors will have an almost breathtaking view of the nearby mountain range.
The valley is located 230 km south of Paro airport. Due to its complex position, it is best to take public transport to get to town.
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Just as the Kashmir Valley is called the Switzerland of the East, so is the Bumthang Valley. Except that here, the Bhutanese winter is reminiscent of the glacial winter of the Swiss Alps. The valley has a wide open area surrounded by snow-white clouds all around. And without forgetting several Dzongs.
Similar to the Swiss Alps, there are several treks available through the rugged terrain of Bumthang and the Jakar Valley.
And if nothing else, you might as well visit the city for its world famous cheese.
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The best time to visit Bumthang Valley is in early winter. Peak winters often shroud the city in all directions. It takes about 9 hours to drive to Bumthang Valley from Paro airport.
Mount Chomolhari is not for the average tourist. This sacred mountain located in the southwest near Kanchenjunga is one of the most difficult trails in all of Bhutan. Naturally, travelers who come here are experienced hikers looking for thrills and the chance to see the mighty Kanchenjunga up close.
As a sacred site, there are certain rules and regulations that every tourist must abide by. The mountain location is close to the airport just an hour away.
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If you want to experience all of Bhutan in one place, there is no better place than the cultural capital – Wangdue Phodrang. Wangdue Phodrang district is the second largest in the country and is one of the few places where you can experience a tropical climate.
The people of Wangdue Phodrang have united with nature, with natural preservations being at the heart of the district’s cultural efforts. The district is soon to be inaugurated as part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Tourists can visit the adjacent villages of the district. Besides that, Dzong district and Sha Radap temple can be a great spiritual visit.
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The Wangdue Phodrang area is a 2.5 hour drive from Paro International Airport.
Jigme Dorji National Park
Jigme Dorji National Park is one of five national parks scattered across Bhutan. While national parks are clustered into wildlife sanctuaries, Jigme Dorji National Park truly embodies Bhutanese version of the wild Wild West.
The national park covers an area of about 4315 km2 at an average altitude of 1500 meters. There are a total of five hikes in the park and it is also home to over 30 wildlife species. So, if you want to experience Bhutanese biodiversity, a visit to Jigme Dorji National Park is a must.
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And finally, there is Punakha Dzong. According to history, this place is considered the ancient capital of the kingdom of Bhutan. The Dzong here is known as the Monastery of Happiness which has an impressive architectural design with white and red details.
The valley is a 3.5 hour drive from the capital and offers a temperate climate all year round. This is a must visit if you are planning a laid back and scenic tourist spot in all of Bhutan.
A country that has one of the highest life expectancies, a negative carbon status and a GDP measured in happiness, Bhutan is everything you would expect of an ideal nation. The people here hold their culture and tradition in high regard, making it the perfect blend of modernity and tradition. A visit to Bhutan will surely be an unforgettable experience.
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So far we have discussed the best tourist places to visit in Bhutan. I hope our discussion will guide outdoor enthusiasts to have amazing travel experiences in Bhutan.