Bhutan is known to be a peaceful country. The people are very friendly and civilized. The country has an amazing traffic sense. The mesmerizing landscapes leave you enchanted and you return back from Bhutan after falling in love with the people, food & unique experiences.
Rummaging through my memories, I can surely name best things to do in Bhutan which I can highly recommend. These things to do in Bhutan define this amazing country for me. I would suggest you to try covering all these recommended things to do in Bhutan.
1) Visit the Buddha Statue (Thimpu)
Buddha is given quite prominence in Bhutan. Hence, I have included visiting Buddha Status as the top of all the things to do in Bhutan.
This stalwart statue of Buddha is majestic. It can be spotted from quite a distance. Spotting the distant Buddha while roaming around in Thimpu city was our favourite time-pass activity.
The Majestic Buddha Statue (Things to do in Bhutan)
2) Get a bird’s eye view of Thimpu
While you ascend towards the grand Buddha Statue, peek sideways and you will discover a city nestled amidst gorgeous mountains. This is the Thimpu city and you will be surely stunned by the panoramic view the highway allows you to admire.
Panoramic view of Thimpu city – Things to do in Bhutan
3) Meet the national animal of Bhutan (Thimpu)
Bhutan has a very interesting national animal. It is very different from the Indian National animal. The Indian National animal is a predator while Takin, Bhutanese National animal, feeds on grass. May be this is the secret behind Bhutan’s absolute peace & the amicable nature of the Bhutanese people. Meeting Takin can be an interesting experience among all the things to do in Bhutan.
Takin is a combination of a cow and a goat. Yes, the head is of a goat and body, of a cow. There is a small story behind Takin. The story connects the national animal with Bhutan culture. The story is as mentioned below.
“Once upon a time, there was a saint. His name was Lama Drukpa Kuenlay. But, he was popularly known as ‘Divine Madman’. The name was assigned to him because of his outrageous acts. He was known for his magical powers. One fine day, his devotees asked him to perform a miracle for them. The ‘Divine Madman’ agreed but asked for a whole cow and a goat to eat. Having devoured both, only bones of the animals remained. He stuck the goat’s head on cow’s bones and uttered some magical words. To the devotees’ surprise, the animal rushed to the meadows and started grazing grass”
Believe it or not, the taxonomists have not been able to relate Takin to any other animal and provided a whole new category to the animal.
Look at the animal below and decide yourself whether the story is true or not. Meeting this animal surely tops the list of “Things to do in Bhutan”
Fascinating National Animal of Bhutan (Things to do in Bhutan)
4) Explore the Handicrafts market (Thimpu)
Shoping can top all the things to do in Bhutan if you are into collecting souvenirs. You can shop off your list after visiting this handicrafts market in Thimpu. You will find a wide range of products that you can shop and take home. The price is affordable and you can strike a good bargain. In fact, the handicrafts market will provide you maximum options and best price for shopping local stuff. The rest of shops in the streets will charge you a higher fortune.
You will find a wide range of products here having impression of the King of Bhutan. Yes, Bhutanese people do love their king. You can check out a detailed image gallery of this market. This market is surely one of the best places to visit in Bhutan
5) Make a Bhutanese friend
The locals can give you the best narration of the local culture, ideology etc. All that you need to do in to pass a smile and start chatting with a Bhutanese guy/girl who can speak adequate English. The people of Bhutan love to talk to tourists, especially if they are Indians. They are quite fascinated with Bollywood and other wonders of India. I met this chap at the Handicrafts market and spent significant time learning about the secrets behind those smiling faces.
This experience was my favorite among things to do in Bhutan as I love meeting new & local people when I am visiting a destination.
Make a Bhutanese friend (Things to do in Bhutan)
6) Treat yourself with Bhutanese cuisine
Are you a foodie? You will love this among all things to do in Bhutan.
Datshi is considered to be the national veg food in Bhutan. Datshi can be made in various forms. The most famous variety is Ema Datshi. Ema basically means chilli. Ema Datshi is made of chilli, pepper and cheese. We preferred to order Potato Datshi which replaced Chilli with Potato. If you do not savor their cuisine, you would surely miss a unique experience in Bhutan.
7) Cross the cold river (Bumthang)
In Bhutan. every town has a river. In Bumthang, the river was located in vicinity of our hotel. Hence, we decided to take a stroll along the riverside in the evening. The river is not that deep. The water is so clear that you can see the rocks under the water. These rocks are quite uneven. Due to this, a 4 meter wide stream is formed in the river. There are rocks above the water level on both sides of the stream. We decided to cross the river by constructing a wooden bridge. However, the idea failed. The wooden bridge floated along with the river.
Finally, we decided to roll up our jeans and cross the cold water of the river by stepping into it. We crossed the river, subjecting our feet to numbness. The bare feet had to suffer more due to some of the pointed rocks. It was a nerve chilling experience. We returned back to the hotel and placed our feet facing the fire.
Crossing the river, Bumthang – Things to do in Bhutan
8) Spend an early morning at a monastery (Bumthang)
Visiting monasteries can consist of all the things to do in Bhutan. There are many monasteries which can provide you unique and peaceful experiences.
Lhohdrak Kharchhu Monastery is situated on a hill overlooking the Bumthang town. After a small trek, you will reach peaceful premises of the monastery. The trek is not too long. It should not take more than half an hour.
When we reached the monastery, the ambiance was very peaceful. The monks were preparing for their regular morning ceremony. When the ceremony started, around 150 monks participated in it. The chants were so powerful that we were captivated by that. Some monks were playing this beautiful musical instrument, displayed in the image below. When I was taking this pic, I had actually felt the vibrations emanating from the instrument. The whole experience was so divine, a friend of mine was already inquiring how to become a monk. You can read my detailed experience and know how this visit to the monastery made me happy!
Visit Bumthang Monastery – Things to do in Bhutan
After the ceremony was over, the monks proceeded for breakfast and tea. A kind monk invited us to have tea and biscuits. He also offered us to have breakfast, but we had to leave due to shortage of time.
This experience was indeed a unique one. Visiting this monastery is highly recommended.
9) Ascend your way up to Tiger’s Nest (Taktsang Monastery, Paro)
A trip to Bhutan without visiting Tiger Monastery is Null and void. The trek to the tiger’s nest tops all the things to do and places to visit in Bhutan. The trek upwards would take 3 hrs and downwards, 1.5 hrs. The view from the monastery is spectacular! Read my detailed trek experience here.
Trekking to Tiger’s Nest – Things to do in Bhutan
10) Attend the traditional festivals (Paro)
We attended a traditional festival at Paro. This festival is known as tshechu. The tshechu is named after the district it is organized in.
Tshechu is basically a traditional festival which is organized annually across various dzongs. During Tshechu, the entire community gathers to witness a show of colourful events. The most popular event is the mask dance. Every mask dance has an interesting story behind it.
Attend a Colorful festival – Things to do in Bhutan
‘Paro Tshechu’ and ‘Thimpu Tshechu’ are considered to be the best Tshechus organized across Bhutan. You can witness a pompous display of traditional culture at these festivals.
These were the 10 things that we enjoyed in Bhutan. In addition to the above experiences, driving through the Bhutan roads is also fun. However, the route from Thimpu to Bumthang was under construction when we visited. Due to this, it was very uneven and bumpy.
While planning your itinerary, you can consider Bumthang only if you have spare time. It is not that different from Paro. When we included Bumthang in our itinerary, we were told that Bumthang is known as mini Switzerland. Due to that, we had high expectations about the town. However, I was disappointed on reaching Bumthang as there were no snow clad mountains.
But, Bhutan is truly worth visiting at-least once in a lifetime. The above mentioned things to do in Bhutan are my top recommendations.