Places to visit in Bhutan

Places to visit in Bhutan

places to visit in bhutan

Thimphu ( Altitude 2350 metres)

Thimphu is the capital and the largest city of Bhutan. The capital has an interesting combination of tradition and modernity, and includes some of the most advanced and remotest parts of the kingdom. It is the only capital city in the world that does not have traffic lights. It is the main center of Commerce, Religion and Government in the country. It is most modern city of Bhutan and has abundance of restaurants, internet cafes, nightclubs and shopping center. It is one of the few cities of Bhutan having ATM facilities.

Memorial Chorten

Also known as the Thimphu Chorten, it is situated in the center of Thimphu City. It is in a form of Stupa built in 1974 to honor the third Druk Gyalpo, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. It is built in Tibetan Style pattern on design of Classical Stupa. The Chhorten depicts images of wrathful deities with their female consorts. Every morning till night old people and young people circumambulate the Chhorten. It is popularly known as “the most visible religious landmark in Bhutan”

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Changangkha Monastery

Changangkha Lhakhang is one of the oldest monasteries in the Thimphu valley. It was built in the 15th century by a descendant of Lama Phajo Drugom Zhipo, the man who spread the Sect Drukpa Kagyu in Bhutan. The main statue at the temple is of Avalokiteswara (the eleven-headed Buddha manifestation with 1000 arms and 1000 eyes). The temple courtyard offers good views over the city of Thimphu.

things to do in bhutan

National Zoo

: Popularly known as “Takin Reserve”, is one of the few places in Bhutan where we can see Takin, the National Animal of Bhutan and a unique combination of Goat and an Antelope

things to do in bhutan

National Library

The National Library was established in 1967 to preserve many ancient Dzongkha and Tibetan texts. (9am – 4pm, Closed on Sunday, Monday & National Holidays)

BBS Tower

It offers panoramic view of Thimphu Town and is situated at an elevation of 2,685 m. The place is perfect to have view of whole Thimphu valley and is also an ideal place for photography. In order to reach the Point, one has to walk through hundreds of colorful prayer flags that dot the hill overlooking the Thimphu valley.

things to do in bhutan

Folk Heritage Museum

It is a traditional house replicating a farmhouse giving an insight to the Bhutanese lifestyle, and artifacts from the rural households. The museum also organizes regular demonstrations of rural traditions, skills, habits and customs as well as hosting educational programs for children. The house design and many of the artifacts are also reminders of rural Bhutanese life. One should carry a torch (flashlight) as some of the rooms are quite dimly lit.

things to do in bhutan

National Textile Museum

This museum is worth a visit to get to know the living national art of weaving. Exhibitions introduce the major weaving techniques, styles of local dress and textiles made by Bhutanese. (Everyday 9am – 4pm & Saturday 1pm – 4pm, Sunday 10am – 3pm, Closed on Monday & National Holidays)

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Institute of Zorig Chusom

 It is a Premier institute of traditional arts and crafts in Thimphu established with an objective of preserving “thirteen arts and crafts of Bhutan”. It is commonly known as Arts & Crafts School or Painting School. One of the 13 Arts is Tshem Zo which is the art of working with needles, threads and other necessary items to make clothes, boots, thangkas, and other items used for decorations and other household needs. (Everyday 2pm – 4pm & Saturday 9am – 12noon, Closed on Sunday & National Holidays)

 

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National Institute of Traditional Medicine

This institute was established in 1978. It prepares and dispenses traditional herbal and other medicines. There is an impressive laboratory and production facility that manufactures quality products. All kinds of pills, tablets, ointments and medicinal teas from here are distributed to regional health-care units around the country.

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Jungshi Handmade Paper Factory

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It is a 1 km drive from main city of Thimphu to the factory. The factory manufactures the traditional Bhutanese paper using the bark of two tree species in the manufacture of traditional paper the Daphne tree and Dhekap. The entire process of traditional manufacturing of the handmade paper can be observed. It was previously operated by the government. Now it is run by a private entrepreneur.

 

Kuensel Phodrang

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It is a gigantic Buddha Dordenma Statue located atop a hill in Kuensel Phodrang Nature Park. One can get good view of Thimphu Valley from here. The construction was completed on September 25th 2015 to celebrate their 60th anniversary of fourth king Jigme Singye Wangchuck.

Tashichho Dzong

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It is a 1 km drive from main city of Thimphu to the factory. The factory manufactures the traditional Bhutanese paper using the bark of two tree species in the manufacture of traditional paper the Daphne tree and Dhekap. The entire process of traditional manufacturing of the handmade paper can be observed. It was previously operated by the government. Now it is run by a private entrepreneur.

 

Weekend Market

things to do in bhutan

It is a gigantic Buddha Dordenma Statue located atop a hill in Kuensel Phodrang Nature Park. One can get good view of Thimphu Valley from here. The construction was completed on September 25th 2015 to celebrate their 60th anniversary of fourth king Jigme Singye Wangchuck.

Paro (Altitude: 2,280 Metres)

The beautiful valley is home to many of Bhutan’s oldest monasteries & temples. The country’s only international airport situated is in Paro. The valley is also home to Mount Jhomolhari (7300 meters.) situated at the northern end of the valley whose glacier, water forms the Pa Chu which is flowing through the valley. The valley has many isolated small villages and is known for red rice.

 

Ta Dzong

It is an ancient watch tower overlooking Rimpung Dzong built in 1951 which is now converted into national museum. It has an amazing collection of art, antiques and religious Thangkas. The round building is said to be in the shape of a conch shell. It has 2.5m-thick walls and was completed in 1656. Inside you can see Thangkas (Tibetan Buddhist painting on cotton, or silk usually depicting a Buddhist deity, scene, or mandala) depicting important saints and preachers. (9am – 4pm, Closed on Sunday, Monday & National Holidays)

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Rinpung Dzong

This “fortress of a heap of jewels” was built by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1646. It houses Paro Monastic Body and also has the offices of civil administration of Paro. The Annual Paro Tshechu is held here. It is one of the finest examples of Bhutanese Architecture. Here you can see intricate wood work, large beams fitted into each other and held together without nails. The Tower of the Dzong is one of the most beautiful in Bhutan with its magnificent wood work.

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The Ruin of Drukgyel Dzong

The Dzong was built in 1646 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to commemorate the victory over the Tibetan Invaders. This fort is fifteen minutes’ drive from Zhiwaling and set on a hill with a spectacular view of the valley. It provides a wonderful architectural insight to the structure of forts in Bhutan. The Dzong was destroyed by fire in 1951 and is now preserved as a heritage site. The Dzong is situated in Drukgyel, overlooking the beautiful village with Mountain Jomolhari in the background. Drukgyel is also the starting point of Bhutan’s most famous trekking routes.

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Kyichu Lhakhang (Monastery)

It is one of the oldest monasteries in the country built in the 7th century by the Tibetan King Songsten Gampo. The story goes that a giant demoness lay across the whole area of Tibet and the Himalayas and was preventing the spread of Buddhism. To overcome her, King Songtsen Gampo decided to build 108 temples, which would be placed on all the points of her body. According to the legend, he established a temple here on the left knee of an ogress in order to subdue her. This is one of the oldest monasteries in Paro district. There’s a belief that the two orange trees here in Kyichu Lhakhang miraculously bears fruits throughout the year.

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Taktsang Monastery

 It is the abode of gods and monks situated at an altitude of 3100m on the Upper Paro Valley, Bhutan. As per the legend, Guru Padmasambhana (Guru Rinpoche), the tantrum mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan, came in the form of Dorje Droloe riding a flying tigress to subdue the demon that was obstructing the spread of Buddhism in the Himalayas. On the left side of the monastery is the retreat place where the famous Tibetan Yogi Mache Lhabdenma attained enlightenment. During the hike, one can see you’re likely to see locals displaying handicrafts for sale along the route to the monastery—evidence of individual enterprise rarely seen until the past few years. The hike is moderate to strenuous. It is also known as “Tigers Nest”.

Chele-La-Pass

Chele-La-Pass, at an elevation of 13,088 ft., is considered to be one of the highest motorable pass in Bhutan. About an hour’s drive from Zhiwa Ling it passes through lush valleys, pine and rhododendron forest. The pass provides stunning views of the sacred mountain Jomolhari and Jichu Drake.

things to do in bhutan
things to do in bhutan

Punakha (Altitude: 1,310 Metres):

Punakha served as the capital of Bhutan until 1955. It’s the winter seat of the Je Khempo (Chief Abbot) & the monk body. It has a temperate climate & its rich fertile valley is fed by the Pho Chu & Mo Chu rivers. It is one of very few places in Bhutan which offers Rafting facilities

 

Dochu-La-Pass

It is the most known pass in Bhutan and is about 30 km drive from the Capital City Thimphu on the way to Punakha/Wangdue Phodrang. It lies at an elevation of around 3,150 Metres. On a clear day, spectacular view of the mighty Himalayas mountain ranges can be seen. From here you can admire the sterling view of snow-capped Himalayas and the hundreds of “broadcasting” prayer flags. During winters, road to Dochula pass is covered with mild snow. Prime attraction to visit Dochula pass is 108 chortens / stupas built under the patronage of Queen Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk.

things to do in bhutan

Chimi Lhakhang

It is a very popular temple built in 15th century and revered temple that lies on the periphery of the fertile valley of Lobesa, where the borders of Thimphu, Punakha and Wangdue Phodrang districts meet. Being dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kuenley, the Divine Madman, the temple is popularly considered to be a temple of fertility. The Lhakhang has a row of prayer wheels and its exterior walls are embedded with slates carved with images of saints. Images of Shabdrung, Sakyamuni Buddha and Chenresig are also deified in the monastery.

things to do in bhutan

Punakha Dzong

The Punakha Dzong was known in ancient times as the Druk Pungthang Dechhen Phrodang or “the palace of great happiness”. It was built in 1637 at the confluence the Pho Chu and Mo Chu Rivers. This gigantic Dzong was damaged 6 times by fire, once by flood and once by an earthquake. It is the second Dzong to be built in Bhutan and was the seat of government when Punakha was the capital of Bhutan. Today, the Dzong is the winter home for the clergy. Closed in winter months when the monk body is in Punakha. The annual Punakha Tsechhu (Festival) is held here.

things to do in bhutan

Wandgue Dzong

things to do in bhutan

It’s an easy drive to the very impressive 17th century Wangdue Phodrang dzong, home of over 200 monks and a monastic school. The Dzong is the largest wood roofed dzong in Bhutan and the style and architecture is very grand.

Gantey Gompha & Phobjika Valley

things to do in bhutan

Situated south of the road and east of Wangdue Phodrang, is Gantey Gompa, an old monastery dating back to the 17th century. The gompa, on the valley floor, is the village of Phobjika. This is the winter home of the famous black-necked cranes. The cranes migrate from the high plains of the Tibetan plateau in winter to the milder climate of Phobjika.

Trongsa (Altitude: 2,300 Metres):

Trongsa forms the central hub of the kingdom & historical place from where attempts at unifying country were launched. It is also known as the Vanguard of the Warriors. The first and Second Kings of Bhutan ruled Bhutan from Trongsa. The Crown Prince normally holds the position of the Trongsa Penlop before ascending to the Throne.

 

Trongsa Dzong

things to do in bhutan

It is the seat of power over Central and Eastern Bhutan. It was built by Chogyal Minjur Tempa and was later enlarged at the end of the 17th century by Desi Tenzin Rabgay. Trongsa Dzong is the ancestral home of the present Royal Family. The first two hereditary kings ruled Bhutan from this Dzong. It is built on many levels into the side of the hill and can be seen from every approach to Trongsa showcasing its strength as a defensive stronghold

Ta Dzong

things to do in bhutan

Perched above the Trongsa Dzong, this is a watch tower which once stood guard over the Trongsa Dzong from the internal rebellion. It’s now being turned into a heritage museum. Some of the important items on display includes, a bronze statue of Pema Lingpa (which is said to be made by himself),a sacred image of Sung Joenma Dorji Chang (Self spoken Vajradharna), age old dance and ritual costumes, ancient prayer books, paintings, textiles, etc.

Bumthang (Altitude: 2,600 Metres)

This fascinating valley is the religious heartland of the nation & home to some of the oldest Buddhist temples & monasteries. Its gentle sloping hills offer plenty of walking opportunities to the many temples that dot this valley. The valley is also famous for its production of honey, cheese, apple & Yathra- a woolen material that has multiple uses. Literally, Bumthang directly translates to “beautiful field”. “Bum” is said to be the abbreviation for either “Bumpa” (a vessel for holy water) describing the shape and the nature of the Valley, or simply “Bum” meaning Girl, thang means field or ground.

 

Jambay Lhakhang

It is one of the 108 monasteries built by King Songtsen Goenpo in the 8th century to subdue evil spirits in the Himalayan region. In October one of the most spectacular festival, “Jambay Lhakhang Drup” is staged here.

things to do in bhutan

Kurjey Lhakhang

Kurjey Lhakhang named after body print of Guru Rimpoche is located just a few meters beyond Jambay Lhakhang. It is dedicated to the saint Guru Padmasambhava who was supposed to have meditated there in 8th century.

places to visit bhutan

Tamshing Lhakhang

Literally meaning the Temple of the good message, this monastery lies on the other side of the river opposite the Kurjey Lhakhang. It was built in 1501 by Terton Pema Lingpa, a re-incarnation of Guru Padmasambhava.

things to do in bhutan

Jakar Dzong

Literally meaning the Castle of White Bird, the Dzong was initially built as a monastery in 1549 by the great grandfather of the Zhabdrung. It is now used as the administrative center for the Bumthang district. The Bumthang Tshechu is one of the most popular festivals is held here.

 

place to visit in bhutan

Meber Tsho "Lake of Burning Fire"

This is a sacred lake of the Bhutanese who believe that Terton Pema Lingpa discovered religious treasures from this lake in the 12th century. On auspicious days, many Bhutanese offer butter lamps on this fresh water lake.

 

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Ura Village

Ura lies in the Tang valley, one & half hours drive from Bumthang town. The drive is mainly through sheep pastures & along the way one can glimpse magnificent view of the Mount Gangkar Puensum from Ura la. The main characteristics of this village is the closely cluster houses of weavers and villagers. It is the last settlement before the climb to the highest road pass at Thrumsingla.

places to visit in bhutan

Tour Packages of Bhutan

(3 Nights / 4 Days) Fly In & Fly Out (Thimphu 1N – Paro 2N)

(3 Nights / 4 Days) Fly In & Fly Out (Thimphu 3N with a Day Excursion to Paro)

 Day 01: Paro Airport – Thimphu

(Distance: 65 kms. / Driving Time: 2 hrs. / Altitude of Thimphu: 2350 mts.)

Meet & Greet on arrival at Paro Airport and transfer to Thimphu (7,710 ft.) the capital city of Bhutan. On arrival check in at the hotel. Evening explore the Thimpu town by walk. Overnight stay at Thimphu.

Day 02: Thimphu Sightseeing – Paro

(Distance: 65 kms. / Driving Time: 2 hrs. / Altitude of Paro: 2280 mts.)

After breakfast visit Kuensel Phodrang (Buddha Statue), National Memorial Chorten (Monument) & Folk Heritage Museum. Afternoon transfer to Paro (7,483 ft.). On arrival check in at the hotel. Overnight stay at Paro.

Day 03: Paro Sightseeing

After breakfast start full day sightseeing covering Ta Dzong – National Museum with an excellent collection of Bhutanese antiquities, Rinpung Dzong – the administrative seat of the district of Paro. Afternoon visit Drukgyel Dzong – The Dzong was destroyed by fire in 1951 and is now preserved as heritage site & Kyichu Lhakhang – one of the oldest Buddist temples in Bhutan. Overnight stay at Paro.

Day 04: Paro Airport

After breakfast check out from hotel and drop at Paro Airport for your onward journey.

Day 01. Paro Airport – Thimphu

(Distance: 65 km / Driving Time: 1.5 hr / Altitude of Thimphu: 2350 m)

Meet & Greet on arrival at Paro Airport and then transfer to Thimphu (7,710 ft.) the capital city of Bhutan. On the way, stop to view the Tamchog Lhakhang. You may also choose to walk through the Chuzom Bridge (subject to time permit). On arrival in Thimphu, check in at the hotel. In the evening walk around the Thimphu town. You may choose to relax in the hotel as well. Overnight in Thimphu.

Day 02. Thimphu Sightseeing

After breakfast visit the Kuenselphodrang (Buddha Statue). Located at a short drive from Thimphu City Centre, Kuenselphodrang offers a good overview of the Thimphu valley. The largest statue of Buddha in the country sits here which houses over one hundred thousand smaller Buddha statues. Then visit the National Memorial Chorten built in the memory of the Third King of Bhutan. Finally visit the Folk Heritage Museum. Afternoon visit Sangaygang View Point, Changangkha Monastery and the Takin Preserve Centre. Takin is the national animal of Bhutan. In the evening visit Tashichho Dzong (Fortress of the Glorious Religion). Overnight in Thimphu.

Day 03. Thimphu – Paro – Thimphu

(Distance: 65 km (One Way) / Driving Time: 1.5 hr (One Way) / Altitude of Paro: 2280 m)

After breakfast drive to Paro(7,483 ft.). While in Paro, visit the Ta Dzong which now houses the National Museum of Bhutan with an excellent collection of arts, relics, religious thangka, etc. Then visit the Paro Rinpung Dzong which literally means the “fortress of the heap of jewels”. The Dzong now serves as the administrative and judicial seat of Paro Dzongkhag. Then explore the Paro Town. Afternoon, visit the Kyichhu Lhakhang, one of the oldest temples in Bhutan and then drive further to visit the ruins of the Drukgyel Dzong built by Tenzin Drukdra in 1649 at the behest of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to commemorate the victory over Tibetan invasion. On the wayback take a photostop to catch the view of the Taktshang Monastery (Tiger Nest). Further ahead stop at the Paro Airport View Point to enjoy the view and the soothing breeze for a while. Drive back to Thimphu. Overnight in Thimphu.

Day 04. Thimphu – Paro Airport and Departure

(Distance: 65 km / Driving Time: 1.5 hr)

After breakfast check out from hotel and transfer to Paro Airport for your onward journey.

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