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The Hottest Spots to Visit in Bhutan

By: Swena Kalra

Edited By: Scott Sidders

Updated on November 6, 2023

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Bhutan is a landlocked country located in the Eastern Himalayas, sandwiched between India and China. The country is home to some of the most stunning landscapes globally, from snow-capped mountains and pristine valleys to thundering waterfalls and dense jungles. Bhutan is also one of the most culturally rich countries on the planet, with a unique history and traditions passed down for generations.

Whether you're looking to explore Bhutan's natural beauty or want to learn about its fascinating culture, there are plenty of reasons to visit this incredible country. Here are some of the best places to see in Bhutan.

Top 10 Attractions in Bhutan

With its soaring mountains, pristine valleys, and dense forests, Bhutan is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. The country is also home to several important historical and cultural sites.
Here are some of the top places to see in Bhutan:

1. Tiger's Nest Monastery

View of the Tiger's Nest monastery also known as the Paro Taktsang and the surrounding area in Bhutan

The Tiger's Nest Monastery is one of Bhutan's most popular tourist destinations. It is known for its beautiful and sacred Buddhist monastery, built in honor of Guru Rinpoche. According to legend, Guru Rinpoche rode to the monastery on the back of a tigress and meditated there for three months. The monastery is considered a place of pilgrimage for Buddhists and provides stunning views of the Paro valley. The Tiger's Nest Monastery is one of Bhutan's most religious sites and is a must-visit for anyone interested in Buddhist history and culture.

You will need to get a permit from your guide to enter the monastery, and once you're inside, photography is strictly prohibited. However, it's worth visiting if you're backpacking through Bhutan - mainly because of the incredible views. Just register at the entrance and deposit any cameras or bags before exploring.

2. Punakha Dzong

Punakha Dzong, Bhutan

Punakha Dzong is an impressive structure that is well known for its beauty. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Bhutan and showcases Buddhist culture's fascinating stories and traditions. The Punakha Dzong is located on a high elevation, making it an ideal place for hiking. It is also the winter capital of Bhutan, and the head clergy of Bhutan resides here during the winter months.

The Dzong is considered the most beautiful in the country, and it was in this very fortress, that the first national assembly meeting was held in 1953. This impressive building took an entire year to complete and is interesting in that it was built without any nails. Almost every national treasure of Bhutan is kept within its walls, including the royal crowns. In 2011, it was also in this Dzong that King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck married Queen Jetsun Pema.

3. Rinpung Dzong

Rinpung Dzong at sunset, Paro District, Bhutan

Rinpung Dzong is an impressive fortress towering above the surrounding countryside. Built in the 16th century, it is a fine example of traditional Bhutanese architecture and showcases its deep-rooted traditions and cultural heritage.

Musician at the Paro Tshechu in the Kingdom of Bhutan

The entire area around Rinpung Dzong in Bhutan is filled with shrines and temples. Some of the most notable shrines include Kungarwa, the Monk's Assembly Hall, the Sandalwood Stupa, and the Protector's Shrine. Each year, there is an annual festival called the tshechu, held at Rinpung Dzong and lasts for five days. The festival is marked on Bhutan's lunar calendar and usually falls in March or April. During the festival, people from Bhutan come to Rinpung Dzong to celebrate and partake in various ceremonies and events.

The festival's highlight is a procession of holy images, which is followed by performances of mask dances by the monks. On the last day before dawn breaks, a sacred banner is shown to the public. This banner consists of eight manifestations of Padmasambhava, and the tradition is that there will be no sunlight falling on the flag. This is significant because it symbolises Padmasambhava's enlightened state of mind.

4. Dochula Pass

Druk Wangyal Khangzang Stupa with 108 chortens, Dochula Pass, Bhutan

Dochula Pass is a 108-stupa memorial built to honour the Bhutanese soldiers killed in a war against Indian insurgents. The beautiful temple and stupas, set against the backdrop of the snow-capped Gangkar Puensum peak, make Dochula Pass one of the most popular tourist destinations in Bhutan.
This pass offers a stunning panoramic view of the Himalayan mountain range, especially beautiful during winter when the mountains are covered in snow. Dochula is a popular picnic spot for Bhutanese families and an ideal place to enjoy a lunch of hot tea and snacks.

Visitors can get a panoramic view of the Himalayan mountain range from the pass. Many Bhutanese families enjoy picnicking and spending time in this scenic area. Visitors can bring their lunch and tea while taking in the stunning views.

5. Chele La pass

About 4000 meters at the highest pass of Bhutan, Chele la

Among the famous tourist places in Bhutan is the Chele La Pass. This magnificent pass is en route to the Haa Valley in Paro. With an altitude of 3,989 meters, Jomolhari mountain can be seen from the pass on a clear day. Additionally, you can also view the valleys of Haa and Paro. Many hotels, resorts, and homestays in Paro offer regular tours at affordable rates to visit the pass.

The Chele La Pass is the highest road pass in Bhutan and is located at 13,000 feet. To reach this Bhutan tourist attraction is a one and a half-hour drive from the valley floor of Paro. The pass provides views of the Himalayan range and Mount Jomolhari.

6. Gangtey Gompa

Gangteng Monastery, Bhutan

Gangtey Monastery is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Bhutan. The monastery is known for its intricate architecture and stunning views of the valley below. Visitors can learn about the vibrant culture of Bhutan while enjoying the fantastic scenery. The monastery is located at 16,000 ft., making it an excellent place for hiking and camping. Gangtey is also famous for its beautiful scenery and friendly people.

Dancers at the Black-Necked Crane Festival, Gangtey Monastery, Bhutan

The monastery was built in the 17th century and is one of Bhutan's most important cultural landmarks. It is a popular destination for tourists from all over the world who want to learn about Buddhism and the Bhutanese culture. The monastery is also a great place to hike and camp, with stunning views of the valley below. If you are looking for an unforgettable cultural experience, Gangtey Monastery is the perfect place.

7. Jigme Dorji National Park

Small river in the Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park, Bhutan

The Jigme Dorji National Park is the second-largest national park in Bhutan, and it is one of the best places to visit in Bhutan. The national park stretches for 1316 square kilometres. It is a paradise for wildlife enthusiasts as they can spot animals such as Bengal tigers, snow leopards, Himalayan blue sheep, and black bears.

Snow Leopard looking at camera

The national park also offers beautiful landscapes that are perfect for photography enthusiasts.

8. Buddha Dordenma Statue

Great Buddha Dordenma - 54 meter tall copper Buddha statue in Thimphu, Bhutan

The Buddha Dordenma Statue is a gigantic 169 feet tall statue of the Buddha situated at the foot of the hills in Thimphu. This awe-inspiring gold and bronze statue is visible from almost anywhere in Thimphu and is one of Bhutan's most popular tourist attractions. The presence of this giant Buddha statue symbolizes Buddhism's dominance in Bhutan.

This religion plays a vital role in the lives of the people of this country, which makes Thimphu one of the best places to visit in Bhutan. You will see numerous Buddhist flags and prayer wheels around the clock tower in the town center.

9. Phobjikha Valley

White stupa and temple in the mountains Chendebji Chorten, Phobjikha Valley, Bhutan

Phobjikha is a small town located in the central area of Bhutan. The city is situated in a valley between mountains and is surrounded by lush greenery, making it one of the top tourist destinations in Bhutan. The landscapes and passes here are stunning, and a day's hike will take you through the town and the surrounding woods.

For those looking to visit Bhutan, Phobjikha Valley is a must-see. The valley is approximately 3000 meters above sea level and has a bowl shape. It is situated on the western slopes of the mountains and is part of the Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park. As one of the most famous places in Bhutan, visiting Phobjikha Valley is an unforgettable experience.

10. Chomolhari

Morning Light On Chomolhari Mountain, Bhutan

The Chomolhari Trek is one of Bhutan's most popular and challenging treks. It starts at Paro and goes up to 5,000 meters, providing enchanting views for those who make the trek. The trek usually takes between 7 and 15 days, depending on the difficulty level. It is perfect for adventure enthusiasts looking for an enriching experience.

This trek begins in the Haa Valley, where you will be able to acclimatize before starting. The entire valley is awe-inspiring, with its monasteries and villages. You will also see the beautiful alpine forests. This is an ideal trek for nature lovers who want to see the untouched parts of Bhutan.

This trek is perfect for those who want to experience Bhutan in all its glory with its mild difficulty. The best time to go on this trek is from late March to early June or September to November. However, the ideal time would be during April or May.

Top Multi-Day Trips From Bhutan

Great Buddha Dordenma is a gigantic Shakyamuni Buddha statue in the mountains of Bhutan

Bhutan is a small country located in the eastern Himalayas, and it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Asia. The people of Bhutan are warm and welcoming, and the landscapes are simply stunning.

If you have the opportunity to visit Bhutan, take some multi-day trips from the capital city of Thimphu to further explore the country.

Here are some of the best trips that you can take from Bhutan:

1. Bhutan Cultural Tour

View of Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan

This is an excellent option for those who want to learn more about the culture and history of Bhutan. The tour lasts for approximately nine days, and it will take you to some of the most important cultural sites in Bhutan.

You will visit the capital city of Thimphu and Punakha, Paro, and other cities. You will also have the opportunity to see some of the most famous monasteries and temples in Bhutan.

The guide will also teach you about the Bhutanese way of life, and you will have plenty of opportunities to interact with the locals. This is an excellent way to learn more about Bhutanese culture and taste the country's unique way of life.


2. Bhutan Encounter

Punakha Dzong Monastery, Punakha, Bhutan

This tour offers an excellent overview of some of the essential sights in Western Bhutan. With your private guide and driver, you'll have plenty of time to explore beautiful dzongs and temples, take scenic walks, and experience life in this unique corner of the world.

The tour lasts for seven days, including visits to Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, Wangdue Phodrang, and other important cities. You will also have the opportunity to go on some short hikes and visit some of the most beautiful monasteries in Bhutan.

This is an excellent way to see the best of what Bhutan offers in a short period.

3. Amazing Bhutan

Tiger's Nest temple, Bhutan

This is an excellent tour of Bhutan that takes you through some of the best places in the country. You will visit Thimphu, Phobjikha, Punakha and Paro and see some amazing sights along the way. The tour includes a visit to the world-famous Tiger Nest Temple, as well as other renowned temples and hikes. You will also have the opportunity to explore the culture and history of Bhutan in depth. This is an excellent way to see the country and its people.

The guide and driver will be with you throughout the tour, and they will make sure that you have a great time. This is an excellent way to see the best of what Bhutan has to offer.

4. The Mysterious Kingdom Of Bhutan

Dochula pass is located on the way to Punakha from Thimphu in Bhutan

This tour is perfect for those who want to explore the mystery and magic of Bhutan. You will visit some of the most important cultural sites in Bhutan, such as the Tiger's Nest Temple, and you will also have the opportunity to go on some amazing hikes.

The tour lasts for 7 days, and it includes visits to Thimphu, Paro, Punakha, and other important cities. You will also have the opportunity to learn about Bhutanese culture and interact with the locals. This is an excellent way to see the best of what Bhutan has to offer.

5. Sketch Bhutan Tour

Two monks are walking over Bhutans longest suspension bridge near the dzong of Punakha, Bhutan

Would you like to learn how to sketch the beautiful faces of Bhutan? Join a tour of the Himalayan Kingdom and learn from Rajesh Gurung, co-founder of VAST (Voluntary Artists Studio of Thimphu). This non-profit organisation was set up in 1998 by professional artists who sought out youths with an interest in the arts and helped them develop their potential talents.

During your tour, you will have the opportunity to explore Bhutan's raw beauty and learn how to capture it in your sketches. This is a rare opportunity to create permanent memories of your Bhutanese experience.

6. Bird Watching and Cultural Tour in Bhutan

Beautiful bird near Punakha Dzong, Bhutan

Bhutan is a small, isolated country nestled in the eastern Himalayas. This beautiful, unspoiled land is a haven for birdwatchers, with over 350 different species of birds. The towns are small and surrounded by pristine forests, and the roads provide excellent opportunities to explore the countryside on foot.
There is also plenty of time to see the amazing architecture, visit dzongs (fortresses/monasteries), and meet the friendly Bhutanese people. This trip provides the perfect opportunity to experience the unique culture of Bhutan and see some of the best that this country has to offer.

With its diverse landscape and rich culture, Bhutan is a truly amazing country to visit. These are just a few of the many reasons why you should consider taking a multi-day trip from Bhutan. Whether you want to learn about the culture or simply explore the natural beauty of the country, there is a tour that is perfect for you.

Top Places To Eat in Bhutan

People shopping for produce at the Paro weekend market in Bhutan

From traditional Bhutanese cuisine to international fare, there are plenty of great places to eat in Bhutan. Here are some of the best:

1. Bukhari by COMO

The Bukhari restaurant in the Hotel Uma in Paro, Bhutan, is one of the most acclaimed places to have a Bhutanese meal. Visitors to Paro often frequent the restaurant for its delicious and diverse food options. The menu is international, with dishes that appeal to a wide range of customers.

Some of the most popular items on the menu include the chilli cheese (Ema Datshi), which is a mix of one full green chilli and melted local cheese. The meal has subtle western influences but is still strongly rooted in Bhutanese tastes and culture. The staff are courteous and attentive, making dining at Bukhari an enjoyable experience.

2. Folk Heritage Museum Restaurant

The Folk Heritage Museum Restaurant is the perfect place to experience authentic Bhutanese cuisine. The restaurant features dishes made from fresh, seasonal ingredients that are organic and sourced from within Bhutan. Guests can enjoy their meal in a colourful, traditional setting, sitting on cushions around a low table and eating from handmade wooden bowls.

The extensive menu includes both vegetarian and meat dishes, as well as Bhutanese staples like khuli (a buckwheat pancake), kekti kewa (spiced baby potatoes), and ja sha maroo (minced chicken). Wash it all down with a glass of ara, Bhutan's local rice wine.

3. Ambient Cafe

Ambient Cafe is a trendy cafe located in the centre of Thimphu, Bhutan. It has a modern style and is popular among tourists and ex-pats, who are known locally as "chilips". The cafe overlooks Norzin Lam, the main street in Thimphu. It has comfortable seating in an inviting and spacious setting, with warm lighting and a "take one, leave one" book exchange shelf. Guests can trade in their old books for new ones.

The cafe's coffee and tea selection are fresh and well-reviewed, and the banana milkshake is a refreshing alternative. The menu features mostly western dishes, including salads, sandwiches, cakes, and pastries.

4. Galingkha

The Hotel Galingkha restaurant is a great place to see the local culture in action. It's located on the ground floor, with indoor seating and a charming patio area. The menu offers a variety of dishes from different cultures, including continental, Bhutanese, Indian, and Chinese cuisine. Indian dishes are especially popular, such as the butter paneer masala and dal halwa.

The restaurant is also a great place to watch the traffic police in action as they direct the flow of traffic at the busy southern traffic circle. From the restaurant, you can also get a good view of the traditional Bhutanese gate of welcome, with its beautiful wood-carving detail.

5. Sonam Trophel Restaurant

The Sonam Trophel Restaurant in Bhutan is one of the best places to enjoy delicious food. Here, you can enjoy a variety of dishes, including Thukpa, Datshi, and Momos. The restaurant has both vegetarian and vegan options, which is great news for those looking for vegetarian Bhutan food. You can also enjoy different Asian delicacies at reasonable prices. Whether you're looking for a quick bite or a leisurely meal, the Sonam Trophel Restaurant is sure to please.

6. Babesa Village Restaurant

Babesa Village Restaurant is a great place to try authentic Bhutanese non-vegetarian food. The set meals include hot beverages like butter tea, rice, dried pork or beef curry, and different vegetables like turnip, eggplant, and fern with cheese. The seating is cosy, and the ceilings are low, making it a great place to experience the exotic native cuisine. The location inside a heritage house adds to the whole experience.

7. Ghasel

The Hotel Ghasel is located in the heart of the lively Clock Tower Square in Thimphu. The hotel has a good-value, all-vegetarian menu of Bhutanese and Indian food. The restaurant has recently been renovated and has a policy of serving only the freshest organic food. Some of the favourite dishes at Ghasel include the vegetarian thali and masala dosa. The hotel also has a garden where guests can relax and enjoy the views of the city.

Final Thoughts

Inside Paro Dzong, Bhutan

Although Bhutan is a tiny country, it has much to offer tourists. The people are friendly and welcoming, the scenery is stunning, and there are plenty of exciting places to visit.

If you're looking for an adventure, Bhutan is definitely worth considering as your next travel destination! We would like to thank you for reading and we wish you a fantastic trip!

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