Bhutan is a land that proudly boasts a truly distinctive and meticulously preserved history and culture. Its inhabitants are known for their gentle nature, and their way of life is profoundly intertwined with their Buddhist beliefs. Throughout Bhutan, you can hear the soothing chants of Buddhist monks resonating in the numerous monasteries. Families sustain themselves by cultivating their own vegetables and tending to their livestock. The country's breathtaking landscapes, awe-inspiring architecture, and timeless customs are a true delight. However, what leaves the most indelible mark on visitors is the people themselves – they are known for their generosity, kindness, tranquility, and, above all, their palpable happiness.
Dochula Pass: Sitting majestically at an elevation of 3,150 meters, this pass treats travelers to breathtaking vistas of the towering peaks of the eastern Himalayas, rendering it one of the world's most splendid mountain passes.
Punakha: One of Punakha's standout features is the Punakha Dzong, an intricate complex of temples and courtyards that straddles the juncture of the Mother and Father rivers. Within the dzong's third courtyard, you'll find 21 temples, the grandest of which is the monks' impressive Great Assembly Hall, boasting a hundred pillars.
Taktsang (Tigers Nest) Monastery: Located a mere 20-minute journey from Paro, this remarkable edifice clings to the mountainside, perched dramatically on a cliff soaring 900 meters above ground. Comprising four temples with lodging for monks, the challenging uphill hike rewards visitors with an unforgettable experience.
Thimphu: Nestled within a steep valley at an impressive altitude of 2,350 meters, Thimphu is embraced by lushly forested mountains adorned with ancient monasteries and lhakhangs (temples). The town's core revolves around the charming Clock Tower, surrounded by meandering lanes lined with shops, vibrant markets, and authentic local eateries. Serving as Bhutan's capital city, Thimphu is a treasure trove of attractions and activities, including the National Textile Museum, Folk Heritage Museum, and the bustling Changlingmethang Market.
Thimphu Memorial Chorten: A striking stupa constructed in memory of Bhutan's third King, this site provides a glimpse into the captivating tradition of "circumambulating," where people walk around the holy structure three times or more as a gesture of reverence.
When to go / useful information
When to go
The most sought-after seasons for traveling to Bhutan are spring, which spans from March to May, and autumn, occurring from September to November. During these periods, the weather is pleasantly warm, the skies are crystal clear, making it ideal for photography enthusiasts. Moreover, these months coincide with Bhutan's intricate and captivating festivals, making it an ideal time to experience the rich cultural heritage of the country.
Currency: The Bhutanese currency is the Ngultrum, but Indian rupees are also widely accepted in Bhutan.
Language: Dzongkha is the official language of Bhutan. However, in addition to Dzongkha, several Tibetan dialects and Nepalese dialects are spoken in various regions of the country. These dialects reflect the diverse linguistic and cultural landscape of Bhutan, where different ethnic groups have their own languages and customs.
What makes it special: From the pristine mountain air of the Himalayas to the vibrant festivals in town, there's so much to adore about this country. Bhutan's ability to preserve its rich and captivating culture, shielded from the excesses of mass tourism for decades, is truly remarkable and enchanting, even for the most seasoned travelers. Witnessing an archery competition or a religious festival is like seeing a tranquil people come to life! Exploring the ancient dzongs (fortresses), visiting the awe-inspiring Taktsang (Tigers Nest) Monastery, and venturing into the picturesque countryside offer a glimpse into the heart of this extraordinary nation.
Weather: Bhutan's climate varies significantly, ranging from tropical conditions in the southern plains to cool winters and hot summers in the central valleys, and to severe winters and cool summers in the Himalayas. The country experiences substantial fluctuations in day and night temperatures, making it practical to dress in layers.
Social Customs: With a deep-rooted tradition of Buddhist principles, the Bhutanese people are known for their peaceful nature and strong cultural values. Archery holds a special place as the beloved national sport, featuring spirited rivalries between villages leading up to major nationwide tournaments. Festivities are marked by early-day revelry, and opponents often engage in good-natured taunting and dance to distract their adversaries, providing ample entertainment for spectators. While western cuisine is available, trying local Bhutanese food, which tends to be spicy with chili peppers often treated as a vegetable rather than a seasoning (emadatse, a dish of spicy chilies mixed with cheese, is a national favorite), is a worthwhile culinary adventure. Bhutan is also renowned for its textile weaving, with women in the mountains skillfully crafting garments on portable looms, a craft that can take up to six months to complete a single piece.