Skip link for screen readers

The country famous for gross national happiness is full of interesting discoveries.

1. Archery

Try your hand at Bhutan’s national sport and learn about the history of archery in a unique atmosphere. While the men, dressed in traditional robes, take their sights at the targets some 140 metres away, crowds of women accompany the spectacle with clamorous cheering and chanting against the opposing team. No doubt, the heckling from the village cheerleaders is as entertaining as the competition.

2. Tiger’s Nest Monastery

Bhutan’s most famous tourist site is the Tiger’s Nest monastery. This sacred Buddhist site is nestled in a cliff face some 900 metres above the ground and is nothing short of breath-taking. Situated amongst gorgeous hills around 2 hours’ drive away from Bhutan’s capital, Thimphu, this historic religious site is must-see. As you hike up the hills to the elevated monastery, you’ll see stunning views of the surrounding valley while listening to the serene hum of chanting and the fluttering of prayer flags. As you climb higher on your way to the summit, make sure to take a rest break at the cafeteria and pause for a moment of contemplation. Great for walkers of all abilities.

3. Gross National Happiness

Something which makes Bhutan completely unique is their prioritisation of Gross National Happiness. The term coined by then King Jigme Singye Wangchuck in 1972 has stuck and it is a mantra that is witnessed throughout life in Bhutan. With the leaders of this small nation placing quality of life over trade output, the atmosphere in Bhutan is simply unique. Witnessing their holistic philosophy in person presents a valuable opportunity to learn from this alternative way of life. Like a physical souvenir you might collect on your journey, a trip to Bhutan will provide you with a spiritual memory to take with you back home.  

4. Punakha Dzong

Punakha Dzong is one of Bhutan’s most famous tourist attractions. This 17th century fort has been at the centre of the Bhutanese establishment since it was built and was the seat of government until the 1950s. Home to excellent examples of ornate Bhutanese craftsmanship and architecture such as the ‘One Hundred Pillar Wall’, a tour around its grounds will leave you in awe. Owing to its strategic position at the confluence of two important rivers, the Mo Chhu and Po Chhu, you’ll learn of its rich historical importance as well as soaking in the stunning waterside views on offer.

5. Buddha Dordenma

Another must-see landmark is the Buddha Dordenma. This recently built monument is a huge attraction for visitors throughout Bhutan and there is little mystery to it. When you arrive at Buddha Dordenma you will be astounded by an enormous solid bronze statue of the Buddha sitting at 51 metres tall. Definitely one of the visual highlights of any trip to Bhutan.

6. Trekking in the Bumthang Valley

Visit one of the lesser explored valleys of Bhutan when you visit the Bumthang Valley – known as the ‘Switzerland of the East’. On a tour of this quaint valley, you’ll see picture-perfect temples, monasteries and petite villages. Set amongst jaw dropping natural beauty, explore the communities where Buddhism was first introduced to Bhutan. Discover verdant rolling hills and an atmosphere of peace like no other as you visit the spiritual heart land of Bhutan. The Trongsa Dzong nestled into a steep ridge of the valley is a spectacular must-visit.

7. Birdwatching & the Black Necked Crane Festival

Bhutan has over 750 bird species including the spectacular Himalayan Monal or the Rufous-necked Hornbill. Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park is highly recommended for animal and bird lovers. Unlike many other Himalayan countries, Bhutan has preserved most of its forests and this has sustained a rich biodiversity and a splendid bird population. 

Each year, in early November, in the village of Gangtey, you can observe the annual festival where local people celebrate this wonderful bird - a very special travel experience.

8. Bhutanese cuisine

While not one of the world’s most well-known cuisines, it may be one of the most under-appreciated and the food in this small Buddhist nation certainly packs a lot of punch. You must try Datshi – a spicy, cheesy Bhutanese staple as well as the traditional Bhutanese chicken curry. Try yak milk, yak cheese, yak meat and even tea made with yak butter. Street food in Bhutan is flavourful and vibrant and its cuisine will no doubt be a highlight of your trip.

9. Ancient art

In keeping with their commitment to gross national happiness, Bhutan champions its rich artistic history. On a trip to Bhutan there will be a lot of opportunities to soak in the beauty of ancient Bhutanese art. You’ll see the way art upholds traditional values in Bhutan and the amazing skill of painters, sculptors and many other crafts. The best place to see this is at one of the many Dzongs. These fortress centres of power have some spectacular art to display. The most notable of them all are Punakha Dzong and Semtokha Dzong.

10. Shopping

For an exciting day in Bhutan’s capital, Thimpu, head to Norzin Lam, a bustling street market in the middle of the city. This fascinating market is a great place to get lost, try some great street food and browse the stalls. There’s plenty on offer from handmade jewellery and fabrics to baskets woven from bamboo and embroidered shoes. Enjoy some retail therapy in the heart of Bhutan’s capital – a fun diversion from the rest of your trip.

X

READY - 20 April 2024

LANDMARK TOURS: Multi-Country & Cross Continent. New Cosmopolitan Tour: Buenos Aires, Iguazu, Rio

CHINAINDIA: Local Life, People & Unique Cultures

GUIDES by Veloso Tours, are the best Local Hosts

PRIVATE VILLAS: Quality Time in exclusive settings

TRAVEL INSURANCE with extensive COVID-19 cover