The Buddhist country of Bhutan, tucked between China and India, is full of spectacular sceneries of gorges, lush green forests, thick woods, and astounding traditional monuments and monasteries. Amazingly, around 70% of Bhutan’s landscape is covered with woodlands, while seven percent lie underneath ice sheets creating a diverse landscape.
Bhutan also referred to as the Last Shangri-la is the only carbon negative country in the world. Untouched by modernization and unexploited by tourism, this tiny yet stunning country is shrouded in mystery and magic.
The country of thunder dragons is no ordinary place. Bhutan is not a land stuck in the past. It is a continuously progressing country that prioritizes sustainability over mass tourism. It is also a country where people are well educated, fun-loving and very well informed about the world around them. This country is the living example of the blending of the ancient and modern facilities making Bhutan endlessly fascinating.
So. If you are planning to visit this country or get to know this secluded part of the world then here we present you the list of major sightseeing destinations in Bhutan.
Sightseeing Destinations in Bhutan
Phobjikha is a small town in the central part of Bhutan(The Land of Thunderbolt) bestowed with valleys and is surrounded by mountains and lush greenery making it one of the topmost Bhutan attractions.
Phobjikha valley, shaped like a bowl stands proudly at an elevation of 3000-meter. This valley lies on the western slopes of the mountains bordering Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park.
The place is known for its beautiful landscapes and high passes and wonderful sceneries of the Mountains.
Apart from the mountains, if you happen to visit this amazing place in winter, you will get to experience the big flock of black-necked cranes in the winter. As it borders with the crucial wildlife sanctuary in the country, you will also get to see some barking deer nearby or hear their voice. Walking through the forests in this valley you might also come across several wild animals such as leopards, wild boars, red foxes, Himalayan black bears and many more.
Major Attractions: Black-necked cranes that migrate to Phobjikha during November, hike through the valleys to witness spectacular views of the birds, animals, mountains and lush green forests.
Punakha is a town in the Himalayas of Bhutan which is also known as Pungtang Dewa chhenbi Phodrang, which translates into “the palace of happiness and bliss”. Punakha Dzong is a 17th-century monastery, constructed by the first Bhutanese Zhabdrung Rinpoche, and it is the second oldest Buddhist dzong in the kingdom.
The administrative center of the Bhutanese government until 1955, Punakha dzong houses some of Bhutan’s most sacred relics of the Drukpa Lineage of the Kagyu School of Buddhism, as well as the sacred remains of the first Zhabdrung Rinpoche.
The three-story main temple of the Punakha Dzong is a breathtaking example of traditional Bhutanese architecture with four intricately carved entrance pillars decorated in gold and silver.
Additionally, the fortress also hosts the Punakha Tshechu, a religious festival featuring masked dances and music.
The dzong was also the site of the wedding of King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and his bride, Jetsun Pema, in October 2011, which was the first national TV broadcast to the Bhutanese people.
Major Attractions: Punakha Dzong, Punakha Tshechu festival
The bustling capital of Bhutan- Thimphu, flaunts several must-see sightseeing destinations in Bhutan. Starting from national memorial Chorten to traditional paper factory, this capital is a living museum of the centuries-old well-preserved traditions, culture, and monuments.
Located in the southern-central part of Thimphu, is the National Memorial Chorten also known as the Thimphu Chorten. It was first initiated by the Third King in order to protect Bhutan from the negative impacts of modernization, and a monument of world peace. Later, the Royal Queen Mother completed it to commemorate the Third King who passed away in 1972.
Next, Thimphu also houses 12th-century Changangkha Temple and Drubthob monastery and Zilukha Nunnery.
Furthermore, Thimphu also has the School for Arts and Crafts where students are taught the 13 types of Bhutanese art, The National Library which has wide collections of Bhutanese scriptures dating back to the 8th century.
Similarly, the Traditional Paper Factory situated within this capital city displays the Bhutanese paper making process and a fascinating resemblance of a medieval farmhouse at the Folk Heritage Museum. There is also the nursing pen for the Takin, the national animal of Bhutan, and Tashichho Dzong, ‘the fortress of the glorious religion’.
If your visit to Thimphu falls on the weekend, you can stroll through the Thimphu Market and observe the variety of foods of Bhutan, including a basket of fiery chilies, cheese and a variety of greens. (This market is open only on Friday-Sunday).
Major Attractions: National memorial Chorten, Changangkha Temple, Drubthob monastery, Zilukha Nunnery, The school for arts and crafts, the national library, the traditional paper factory, and Thimphu marketplace.
Paro is a valley in Bhutan situated west of the capital, Thimphu. This town has the only international airport in the country and is famous for the several sacred sites in the area.
Northwest of Paro lies the remains of a defensive fortress, Drukgyel Dzong, dating from the 17th century built to defend invading Tibetans.
The descending trail from the Dzong guides to the National Museum. Built-in 1649 to protect the undefended Ta-dzong and renovated in 1968 to house the National Museum, the unusual round building is said to be in the shape of a conch shell, with 2.5m-thick walls. The museum protects some of Bhutan's finest specimens of arts, bronze statues, and paintings. Today, the National Museum possesses over 3,000 works of Bhutanese art, covering more than 1,500 years of Bhutan's cultural heritage. The museum in total is a complete journey to the past advancing to the present.
Rinpung Dzong, yet another must-visit sites in Bhutan. Rinpung Dzong is a beautiful dzong (fort), built in the 16th century. Known as the Fortress on a Heap of Jewels, Rinpung Dzong is among the best tourist places to visit in Bhutan and close insight into Bhutanese architecture and deep-rooted traditions.
Taktshang (Tiger’s Nest)
Trip to Bhutan is never complete without climbing Taktshang (Tiger’s Nest). The walk of approximately 1.5 to 2 hours uphill takes almost a kilometer above the Paro valley floor (for those who cannot hike a horse will be managed to transfer up to the cafeteria). The long, steep path towards Taktsang Lhakhang, gradually rewards you with the periodic revelation of itself, rising out of the forest, closer and more solid with each reappearance.
Historically, it is believed that Guru Rinpoche, arrived here on the in the eighth century on the back of a flying tigress after defeating a troublesome local demon and spent months in meditation, Thus, the cave gets its name Lhakhang meaning "Tiger's Nest". It has been a place of pilgrimage ever since.
Major Attractions: Drukgyel Dzong, the national museum, Rinpung Dzong, Taktshang (Tiger’s nest), breathtaking sceneries.
Trongsa is located at the heart of the territory of the Kingdom of Bhutan. In fact, it is also the center of history. Its highlighted Trongsa Dzong and the surrounding towns are at the upper valley, which provides great views of the whole valley.
Trongsa Dzong enjoys a long history which can be traced back to the 16th century. In history, it held an important strategic location.
There are 23 independent Lhakhang in Trongsa Dzong, and all of them are delicately-decorated. The North Hall and southern Mithrub Lhkang are the major attractions of Trongsa Dzong. The stupa of the original creator of Trongsa Dzong, Ngagi Wangchuck is shrined in Mithrub Lhakhang.
The watchtower of Trongsa Dzong was rebuilt as Trongsa Royal Heritage Museum with five stories. This museum exhibits the Buddhist arts and many royal mementos, like the 500-year-old coat of Ngagi Wangchuck, the holiest and most treasured collection a copy of Padma KathangI – the biography of Guru Rinpoche written by his partner.
In this museum, you can also see two Lhakhang. Gesar Lhakhang is worshiped with one Penlop of Trongsa (Jigme Namgyal). Climbing to the roof of the Trongsa Royal Heritage Museum, it delivers you a bird’s eye view of the amazing valley.
Jigme Dorji National Park, Gasa
A picturesque area of undisturbed wilderness, Jigme Dorji National Park was established in 1974 to protect the indigenous species of endangered animals in Bhutan, more than 37 of which reside in this area covering over 4,300 square kilometers.
Ranging in altitude from 1,400 meters to over 7,000 meters, it shelters rare species of mammals as the Bengal tiger, the clouded leopard, the snow leopard, the Himalayan black bear, the Indian leopard, and the famous Bhutanese Takin. Rich in flora, the park also houses many species of deer, goral, and sambar, and thousands of varieties of birds that are both indigenous and migratory. With several sites of religious and cultural importance within its borders, the park also offers its visitors a very spiritual experience.