The land of the “Druk Tsenden” or the Thunder Dragon Kingdom as locals call it is one of the smallest picturesque countries in the world. Tucked away 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 take a look at the best spots 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 Himalayan country offers it all for the wanderers. And if the view doesn’t cut it for you, the love and genuine care of the people. Your Bhutan travel itinerary must 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 mix of Bhutanese tradition, culture, and its intertwining with nature. The city itself is at an elevation of over 2500 meters. So expect a lot of mountain ranges in and around every corner.
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Notable places to visit include the Folk heritage Museum, Buddha Point, Farmer’s market, and the Dochula and Taking Preserve range.
The best way to get to the city is to catch a bus or a private car as the nearest drop destination is Paro Airport which is 54 km away from the capital.
We did start the list with the capital of Bhutan. But people willing to explore deep into the Bhutanese culture should start their itinerary right from Paro itself.
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The most famous being the Last Shangri La of the world, the Tiger’s nest. Locally known as the Paro Taktsang, this centuries-old monastery is situated at the edge of a cliff at an elevation of 2950 meters. Getting there also isn’t easy as you’ll have to gear up for at least 2 hours of trek.
In addition to that, the Zuri Dzong Fort and the Chele Pass are other notable places to visit in Paro. As you will visit this place, you’ll see a deep connection to Buddhism as the locals hold most of these places with sacred reverence. So be careful not to break the age-old customs in these places in any way.
Getting around Paro is quite easy as there are rental cars right from the airport with adjacent accommodation inns.
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The Trongsa valley is situated at the center of 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's hard to imagine that artists perfected this craft with limited means back in the day.
Beyond the mesmerizing Dzong, there is a breathtaking view of the luscious Himalayan range. The Trongsa valley is also dubbed the balcony of Bhutan as visitors will get a nearly unobstructed view of the nearby mountain range.
The valley is situated 230 km south of the Paro airport. Due to its intricate position, it's better to take public transport to the city.
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Just like Kashmir valley is called the Switzerland of the East, so is the Bumthang Valley. Except here, the Bhutanese winter reminisces the glacial winter of the Swiss alps. The valley has a vast open area surrounded by snow-white clouds all around. And not to mention several Dzongs.
Akin to the Swiss alps, there are several treks available through the rough terrain of Bumthang and Jakar valley.
And if not anything else, you might as well visit the city for its world-renowned cheese.
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The best time to visit Bumthang valley is in the early winter. Peak winters often shroud the city in every direction. It takes about 9 hours to get to Bumthang valley from Paro airport.
Mount Chomolhari is not for the average leisure tourist. This sacred mountain situated in the southwest near Kanchenjunga is one of the hardest trails in all of Bhutan. Naturally, travelers coming here are experienced hikers seeking thrill and the opportunity to see the mighty Kanchenjunga from up close.
As a holy site, there are some rules and regulations which every tourist must adhere to. The location of the mountain is close to the airport just one hour drive away.
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If you want to experience all of Bhutan in a single place, then there is no better place than the cultural capital – Wangdue Phodrang. The district of Wangdue Phodrang is the second largest in the country and is one of the few places where you will get to experience a tropical climate.
The People of Wangdue Phodrang have unified themselves with nature with natural preservations being at the heart of the district's cultural efforts. The district is soon expected to be inaugurated as part of UNESCO's World Heritage Sight.
Tourists can check out the adjacent villages in the district. In addition to that, the district Dzong and Sha Radap temple can be a great spiritual visit.
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The district of Wangdue Phodrang is a 2.5-hour drive away from the Paro international airport.
Jigme Dorji National Park
Jigme Dorji National Park is one of five national parks scattered across Bhutan. While national parks are aggregated as wildlife sanctuaries, the Jigme Dorji national park truly embodies the Bhutanese version of the wild wild west.
The national park encompasses around 4315 sq km area at an average elevation of 1500 meters. There are a total of five treks within the park and it also houses over 30 wildlife species. So if you want to experience Bhutanese biodiversity, then a visit to the Jigme Dorji national park is a must.
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And lastly, there’s 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 bliss which boasts impressive architectural design with white and red detailing.
The valley is a 3.5-hour drive from the capital city and offers a temperate climate year-round. It’s a must-visit if you’re considering a laid-back and scenic tourist spot in all of Bhutan.
A country that has one of the highest life expectancy, carbon negative status, and a GDP that’s measured in happiness, Bhutan is everything you can expect from an ideal nation. The people here hold their culture and tradition in the highest esteem, making it the perfect mix of modernity and tradition. A visit to Bhutan will surely be an experience of a lifetime.
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So far, we have discussed the best tourist places to visit in Bhutan. Hope our discussion will guide the outdoor enthusiasts to have amazing travel experiences in Bhutan.