Bhutan is a land of happiness. The local folks are friendly and curious to meet travelers. The beautiful attractions in this land of Dragon adds another exciting fervor to Bhutan. I had visited Bhutan in the month of March. The weather was pleasant and we stayed enveloped by clouds for a long time as we entered Bhutan from Phuentsholing, the border town. We had a great time in Bhutan, exploring various places to visit in Bhutan.
Here, I have recommended some places to visit in Bhutan in order to help you plan your trip better. Each recommendation in this list of places to visit Bhutan is a reason in itself to plan your trip today!
1. Taktshang Lhakhang (Tiger’s Nest), Paro
This Monastery, also known as Tiger’s nest is tucked away in a mountain, amidst surreal nature. It is located near Paro and you need to trek in order to reach here. The trek takes you through dusty routes and stalwart trees, offering you bountiful views as you trudge along. When you reach Tiger’s nest, you can just sit there and admire the stretch of landscapes while colorful prayer flags flutter in backdrop.
2. Rinpung Dzong, Paro
This quaint Dzong is a great sight to behold. Dzongs are essentially monasteries and fortresses which are generally perched atop a hilltop. They hold great significance in Bhutanese culture and offer a delight to travelers. Rinpung Dzong in Paro can easily top the list of recommended places to visit in Bhutan. The impressive architecture and the vibe in general will leave you enchanted.
3. Drukgyel Dzong, Paro
A yet another Dzong which makes to this list of places to visit in Bhutan, near Paro. Drukgyel Dzong offers you a spectacular view with Mt Chomolhari dominating the landscape. When in Paro, you should definitely make a point to visit here.
4. Druk Choeding, Paro
A temple holding considerable significance in the Bhutanese culture, Druk Choeding can be included to your places to visit in Bhutan. The temple is built with intricate details to architecture and design.
5. Ugyen Pelri Palace, Paro
Another architectural beauty, Ugyen Pelri Palace is famous for it’s architecture and exudes royalty in a grand fashion. If history and architecture intrigues you, please do include Ugyen Pelri Palace in your list of places to visit in Bhutan.
6. Buddha Dordenma, Thimpu
Located atop a hillock in Kuenselphodrang Nature Park, Buddha Doedenma is known for the 5.2 meters high Buddha Statue! A vast stretch of mountain strewn landscape lays in front of you. The giant Buddha statue can be seen from almost every street of Thimpu. We used to play a game among friends where the one who spots the status first from a point, wins.
7. Simtokha Dzong, Thimpu
Cradle to the institute of Culture and language, Simtokha Dzong will appeal highly to the cultural enthusiast in you. The intricate carvings behind the prayer wheels in the Dzong’s courtyard will leave you awestruck. Visit Simtokha Dzong to admire it’s intricate detailing of architecture and lovely vibes.
8. Institute for Zorig Chusum, Thimpu
Interact with the rosy cheeked school kids learning arts and crafts at the Institute of Zorig Chusum. You can also interact with the teachers and know the history and culture behind the art. By visiting here, you will give a treat to the art lover inside you because of the interesting facts revolving around the institute.
9. Phajoding Monastery, Thimpu
Phajoding Monastery demands a 3 to 4 hour hike from Thimpu. Located at a height of 3,500 meters, Phajoding monastery will leave you in awe as you admire at the snow clad mountains in distance. The hiking trail is beautiful, paving through the lovely pine forests. The Phajoding Monastery will take up a whole day and you should rather be prepared for the altitude gain of 1000 meters in one day. Due to the altitude gain, Phajoding Monastery can prove to be strenuous for folks who have below average fitness. Hence, its recommended to evaluate it before adding to your list of places to visit in Bhutan.
10. Takin Preserve, Motithang (Near Thimpu)
Takin is the national animal of Bhutan. A mix of cow and goat, there an interesting story behind Takin. The story goes as this: “In past history of Bhutan, there was a saint named Lama Drukpa Kuenlay rather known as the ‘Divine Madman’. His outrageous acts and magic powers had earned him this name. One day, his devotees asked him to perform a miracle. He demanded a cow and goat in order to perform magic. He devoured both, leaving nothing but the bones. Subsequently, he cast a magic spell and a new animal jumped out having the head of goat and body of cow. It plunged in the meadows and started grazing grass, leaving the devotees awestruck.
1. Tango Goemba, near Thimpu
While we are at the topic of the Diving Madman, I would also recommend you to include Tango Goemba in your list of places to visit in Bhutan. The goemba was built iin the 17th century and has a relatively high significance in Bhutanese culture. You will need half a day to visit here as it’s a 30 minute drive from Thimpu followed by a hike of an hour or so in woods.
12. Handicrafts Market
Among the places to visit in Bhutan, handicrafts market has a special place because it helps the locals to earn their livelihood. Visit the markets organized in Thimpu and indulge some shopping. You get to collect sovereigns and the locals go home with a happy face.
13. Dochula Pass, between Thimpu and Punakha
Located at a distance of around 20 KMs from Thimpu, on the way to Punakha, Dochula pass paves through high mountains. The pass has 108 chortens or memorials. The pass is located at a height of above 10,000 feet and due to this, you will find morning mist enveloped around the Chortens, making a lovely sight to behold. It is recommended to visit here early morning.
14. Royal Botanical Garden, close to Dochula pass
In vicinity of Dochula pass, Bhutan’s first botanical garden is located. The Royal Botanical garden offers a wide variety of flora and fauna for you to admire. A quick visit here will be worth.
15. Lungchuzekha Goemba, from Dochula pass
If you are a fan of nature, you will absolutely love the hike to Lungchuzekha Goemba. A hike through the rhododendron forests will leave you engulfed by the mysterious beauty of these mountain forests. You cannot miss this hike to Lundchuzekha Goemba and I’d highly recommend to include this in your list of places to visit in Bhutan. The uphill hike will take around 1.5 hours and descend will not take more than an hour. Hidden away from the tourist grid, Lungchuzekha Goemba will be a good selection in the places to visit in Bhutan because of its offbeat nature.
16. Punakha Dzong, Punakha
The Punakha Dzong is an epitome for the serenity that Bhutan represents. The calm river flowing along provides a treat to nature lovers. The Dzong is one peaceful place for some soul searching. Visiting Punakha Dzong will take you back in time and give an insightful peek in Bhutanese culture.
17. Chimi Lhakhang, Punakha
Chimi Lhakhang is perched atop a hillock in Punakha, providing a panoramic view of the lovely landscapes. This temple is dedicated to the ‘divine madman’ who we talked about earlier. You can explore the surroundings by hiking. This temple should definitely be there in your list of places to visit in Bhutan. This temple is famous as fertility temple and it is believed that praying here can help solve infertility issues.
18. Punakha Rishta Village
Visit the rice fields in Rishta and you can get a chance to understand the farming as a way of life. The farmers are friendly and will help you satiate your curiosities. Its noteworthy that the word ‘Rishta’ translated to bond or relationship in Hindi. So, maybe you can visit Rishta Village and develop a bond with the local farmers. To explore the roots of Bhutan, include Punakha Rishta village in your list of places to visit in Bhutan because of it’s authentic experience.
19. Lhohdrak Kharchhu Monastery, Bumthang
This beautiful monastery is off the beaten tourist path. To reach here, you need to hike up some stairs because of it’s height. The soothing aura delighted us due to the pure vibes. The monks saw us and invited us in for some tea and breakfast. We were grateful for their graceful hospitality. You can observe their morning rituals which include chanting and humming of slogans. The rituals are very powerful and its sheer magnitude enchanted us!
20. Kurje Lhakhang, Bumthang
The three temples at Kurje Lhakhang in Bumthang conjure up a great delight for a traveler. Surrounded by a wall adorned by 108 chortens, many travelers consider Kurje Lhakhang a good options out of all the places to visit in Bhutan.
21. Membartsho (The Burning Lake), Tang Valley
Visit the burning lake, a water body nestled in wilderness. It is one of the greatest pilgrim sites in Bhutan and prayer flags adorn the site beautifully.
22. Semji Village, Trongsa
Semji village is an ancient habitat which is now famous for bird watching and nature walks due to its rich flora and fauna. One can hike to the village and back. You can cut the hike short by opting transport till halfway. If you are a bird watcher, Semji village near Trongsa will surely leave you in high spirits due to its lovely nature reserve.
23. Haa Valley
A cradle of culture, Haa Valley will surely cheer the cultural enthusiast in you. Not only the landscapes are surreal, but the folks are also amicable. You can see a lot of different cultures and ways of Bhutanese life here. The major attractions in Haa Valley are Lhakhang Karpo and Lhakhang Nagpo which respectively translates to White Temple & Black Temple. While driving, you will also pass Chele la pass which has a height of around 4000 meters. Include Haa Valley in your places to visit in Bhutan for its fascinating cultural representation & alluring nature. You will also get Chele la pass as a bonus attraction.
24. Confluence of Paro Chu and Wang Chu
The placid rivers flowing peacefully through the Bhutan valleys merge at this confluence point. Both the rivers crystal clear. You can easily see the pebbles and rocks beneath the gently flowing rivers due to the unpolluted waters. An evening would be a perfect time to sit at this confluence and just reflect within your inner soul!
25. National Folk Museum, Thimpu
If you are looking to take a dip in the rich Bhutanese heritage, a visit to National Folk museum will be a treat for you. You should definitely visit this museum if you are a history and heritage enthusiast in order to revel in the country’s true wealth.