Bhutan Travel Guide

2024-07-09 | Published By: Bold Himalaya

Bhutan is also known as “The Land of the Thunder Dragon” An exotic, mystical and otherworldly nation which you will love traveling to. Tucked in the Himalayas between India and China, Bhutan is peppered with cliff-perching monasteries, tiara-shaped temples of golds and reds and greens along trails where streams swallow rocks whole. See archery and ancient crafts, eat home-made cheese and eye wateringly hot chillies, trek the Himalayas or relax in a restorative hot-stone bath.


The most unique thing about Bhutan is that it is one of the very few countries that are carbon negative and the concept of gross national happiness. For many years Bhutan has actually promoted the tourist concept of "" worth reduced effect"" intending to make the most of gains, from tourist while lessening its ecological and also social impact. This mirrors the nation's core idea in "" Gross National Joy."". Visitors can enjoy a selection of tasks. Discover locations based upon their choices while seeing Bhutan.


Among the obstacles positioned by the Covid 19 pandemic Bhutan preserved boundary controls. Just recently resumed for tourist in September 2022 accompanied by substantial alterations to its tourist standards.


Embark upon a trip in the nation referred to as the dragon kingdom with the help of this detailed Bhutan Traveling Overview. Packed with information ranging from basics to tips this guide is designed to help you plan a fulfilling tour of Bhutan hassle free. Let your held dream of exploring the land of Druk Yul come true smoothly and without any confusion. This is a comprehensive travel guide article that you must checkout if you want to travel Bhutan someday. Considering the travel advice included in this guide, for traveling in Bhutan you can surely gear up for an exhilarating and memorable adventure.



Bhutan Languages

Bhutanese, or locally known as Dzongkha is one of the 53 Tibetic languages spoken in the Himalayas and also its national language. The national language is Dzongkha which, in Bhutanese schools also serves as the major teaching mediums but English has become the prime media of instruction for educational purposes.


The country is also host to 22 other languages, many dialects of the original Dzongkha and Nepali. Five other dialects.(Tshangla, Dzala, Limbu and Keng) rai constitute about 45% of the spoken languages in Bhutan.




Bhutan Location

Bhutan is situated in the geographical facility of Asia's southerly area. Bhutan is surrounded by numerous Eastern nations with numerous market histories. Bhutan's north and also western boundaries with the Tibet Autonomous Region (a district of China) greatly adhere to the Great Himalayan crest. The boundary in between Bhutan as well as the Indian states of West Bengal and also Assam lies in the Duars Plain to the southern of the Himalayan variety. Bhutan shares borders with Sikkim as well as Arunachal Pradesh 2 Indian districts.




Area of Bhutan

It is between China and India, in the eastern Himalayas; Bhutan area of about 38 thousand and a half thousand square kilometers (about 15 thousandsquare miles) which means it is not large compared to most neighboring countries. With 2 individuals per square kilometer, Bhutan is one of the least densely populated countries in this planet and its forest policy keeps at minimum 65–70 percent of most land as a pollutant-free natural environment.




Reasons to Visit Bhutan

Bhutan has various mesmerizing trekking trails with different levels of difficulty fitting to all types. Some of the most popular treks include Druk Path Trek, Jhomolhari trek and Snowman Trekk etc.


Various Festivals in Bhutan During all Year: Punakha Drubchen, Gomphu Kora Festival, Paro Tshechu, Sakteng FestivalMassive Losar (New-year) Mass Dance is conducted by hundreds of participants dressed to perform.


Bhutanese, are very friendly and warm people when it comes to tourists. Nobody tries to scam you, no robberies and definitely no forced shopping. The locals typically go out of their way to ensure you feel safe and at home.


Enjoy the Archery Culture of Bhutan. Bhutan's national obsession Archery, they cant keep living without it. Almost every village has an archery field. Maybe now you know why the nation is so elated when they see this arrow scene that has mastered archery.


Bhutan has kept its age customs alive by safeguarding its cultural legacy and untouched wilderness. Due, to limitations on tourism Bhutans historical marvels are well maintained. Locals still favor attire when, about and traditional buildings can be seen throughout the country.


The Dzongs and the monasteries are beautiful. Moreover, Dzongs can be found in major cities such as Paro and Thimphu and Punakha. It is the place where most of Dzongs and monasteries will be located in confluence of rivers or a top mountain with wonderful view.


Velsen will be introduced to country's unique local cuisines, so try, Ema Datshi (National dish),Ema datshi,Kewa DatshiPhaksha paaJasha maruRed riceSikam paaMomo...and many more Abomasal *Information on regional recipes and ingredients can also vary in different sources


This also places Bhutan in the elite group of few carbon negative countries (i.e. their forests absorb more CO2 than is produced). By government law, above 60% alltitude should be covered by forests but in reality it is never below from ca. 70%. As a result, Bhutan is the only carbon-negative country in the world.


It is the only country in the world to measure happiness as output, and it has telemetry that tests erosion itself. In Bhutan, instead of GDP GNH (gross national happiness) is most important. In short, the quality of peoples' lives are contingent on spiritual values.




Things to do in Bhutan

Experience Tsechu festivals of Bhutan

Festivals play an integral role on the social calendar of Bhutan and also in its cultural identity, so try to catch one while you are there. Religious masked dances involved in the main tsechus are displayed in courtyards of the country's monasteries on dzongs, with monks donning demon masks, animal-head masks etc. doing acts that narrate fables according to Buddhism or revive courtesy death and regeneration like deed. Most festivals end with the revealing of a sacred tapestry (as tall as a building) that apparently offers spiritual emancipation to anyone who views it. This is Bhutan at its most exotic and photogenic, do not miss.


Effort to put on traditional Bhutanese wear

A very attractive aspect of the Bhutanese is how they use their traditional clothes in their daily lives. Men dress by putting on robes or thigh length shirts called ghos that have vibrantly colored colors. They also put on knee high socks and a white inner liner underneath the robe, while women wear a woven skirt kira together with silk jacket having embroidery. This colorful display of fashion and identity can be extremely expensive with the highest quality woven kiras and ghos costing thousands of dollars. Going to festivals is a good reason for owning traditional clothing; many people will like it and want to have photos taken with you as well as having picnics together with you. But just learn how to wear it, and afterthat, you’ll get an amazing outfit forever.


Observe ancient archery games

In Bhutan, its national sports is archery and one would see young men polishing their aim in open grounds across the country. The traditional game uses bamboo bows along what appears to be an impossibly long stretch but the most interesting thing for visitors is the playful competition that accompanies it. The opposite teams will do whatever it takes to divert their adversaries with offensive remarks and mock accusations; when a shot wins, triumphant bowmen dance by raising their hands up high. You can have a go at that yourself and have your skills tested. The people there are friendly so they would certainly allow you to shoot some arrows.


Experience the flavors of chili infused dishes

If you enjoy a bit of heat in your meals you're, in for a treat. Bhutanese cuisine incorporates chili in all meals throughout the day! However it's worth noting that what is considered spicy in the West is considered mild in Bhutan. It's best to ease into it! The culinary offerings here showcase influences from Tibetan and Indian culinary traditions making it a diverse selection suitable, for vegetarians well.


Hike to the Taktshang Goemba also known as Tigers Nest. 

Every traveler in Bhutan dreams of hiking through the pine forests to reach this monastery perched on a cliff in the Paro Valley. The temple, with its gold roof clings to the mountainside and is centered around a cave where Guru Rinpoche, a revered Buddhist saint meditated for three months after arriving on a tigress back. The uphill trek to the temple takes two hours. It's best to start early in the morning when the sun is not too harsh and save this experience for later, in your trip when you've adjusted better to the altitude.


Explore the trails of the Trans Bhutan Trail

It is a restored 403-kilometer footpath that stretches across Bhutan from east to west. This route has been frequented by traders, couriers and government representatives for generations winding through forests, villages and valleys, in the mid hills region than scaling the peaks. Don't miss out on experiencing the charming day hike portions, along this trail. Among the most beautiful, and more accessible is that running through Paro Valley to sweep around its easterly bulge for awe-inspiring views of fortified hilltop monoliths like Paro Dzong.


Trek to Jhomolhari Base Camp

One of the unseen and wonderfully remote corners of the Himalayas lies in Bhutan and there are some truly fantastic treks on offer here. On the one end of it spectrum is Jangothang (also called Jhomolhari Base Camp), a stunning, and thus massively popular camp on vast plain bedecked with scarlet primulas at the base of derelict fort that commands heart-stopping views up to eastern flank 7314m mountain proper. Five of the most well known treks in Bhutan pass through the camp and many groups spend two nights here acclimatizing, so it is a real meeting place for hikers. A highlight of the Himalayas is catching dawn views of the mountain that fade from ink to pink to dazzling whiteness when hit by sun rays.


Other Trekking Routes

Apart from these treks, there are many other trekkings of different levels of difficulty. Some of them include Druk Path Trek, Bumthang Cultural Trek, Punakha Winter Trek, Bumthang Owl Trek, Dagana- Thimphu via Dagala Trek, Samtengang Winter Trek, Dagala Thousand Lakes Trek, Nabji Korphu Trek, Duer Hot Springs Trek, Gangtey Trek, Jomolhari Loop, Jomolhari Trek and so on. These treks are a great adventure too. You will be trekking in some of the last few unexplored places left in the world which only a few would ever think about doing or going to. To find out more on best treks in bhutan click here.




Places to visit in Bhutan

Paro

The airport, Paro International that serves as the gateway to Bhutan is where airplanes swoop down through steeps before landing on the “Land of the Thunder Dragon.” It takes less than 10 minutes from this airport to get to Paro, a historical town located along a river. Here you will find various tourist attractions like National Museum, Rinpung Dzong fortress and Taktshang Goemba (Tiger’s Nest Monastery). You can also explore the streets of Paro or go to the Paro Weekend Market where there are many stalls and shops selling handmade souvenirs. When you are hungry, there are quite a number of restaurants here such as Momo Corner where they serve freshly made momos.


Tiger nest

Tiger Nest or Taktsang is the most famous place in Bhutan. Its constructed on the face of Mountain at height 3000 m from ocean level. Guru Rinpoche has meditate there and builded monastery in 8th century. It is also one of the most popular Bhutan Buddhist pilgrimage sites and that sacred vale. Taktsang is a hiking destination for many tourists that takes about 5 hours (return trek) to complete. The hikers get the opportunity to feel and view nature; however from Taktsang monastery, one can see beauty of landscapes such as Rocky Mountains or lush subtropical forest.


The National Museum of Bhutan

The well-liked tourist spot is essentially a cultural museum opened in the year 1968, to cover some of the best examples Bhutanese art including bronze paintings and statues. The museum today has over 3,000 works of Bhutanese artefacts and artworks covering more than 1,500 years of Bhutan's cultural heritage including traditional weapons, costumes, armor handcrafted implements. Tourists who visit the museum will have an unforgettable experience as they would be able to get close the exclusive Bhutanese legacy with its multiple creative honours.


Thimphu

Impressively, the city houses Tashichho Dzong, a splendid fortress cum monastery that serves as the administrative and religious center of Bhutan containing the royal offices and throne room. For those interested in Bhutanese culture and history, there are two places worth visiting: National Folk Heritage Museum and National Institute for Zorig Chusum. They offer an insight into traditional arts, crafts, and rural life. The Buddha Dordenma is an enormous golden statue that overlooks the city giving both a spiritual experience as well as panoramic views of the valley. Thimphu’s lively Centenary Farmers’ Market is a hive of activity where tourists can taste local fruits or vegetables, spices or souvenirs thus making it one of the best spots for experiencing Bhutanese day-to-day life.


Punakha

Known for its riverside farms where cows peacefully graze amidst rice and chili fields Punakha is widely regarded as one of Bhutans enchanting destinations. It is home, to what many consider to be the countrys dzong, a monastery fortress that stands gracefully by the Punakha River. The Punakha Dzong, the largest in Bhutan boasts a structure perched at an elevation of 1200 meters above sea level. Remarkably this fortress was built in one year without the use of a nail. In 1953 Bhutans inaugural national assembly took place within these walls. Noteworthy events like the wedding between King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Queen Jetsun Pema in 2011 have added to the allure of Punakha. Serving as Bhutans winter capital this picturesque town sees its leader residing at the Punakha Dzong during the colder months. Additionally visitors can admire one of the nations suspension bridges adorned with prayer flags while enjoying activities like white water rafting, in the lively rapids nearby.


Khoma

Khoma, which is the textile hub of Bhutan promises an adventurous visit that guarantees you more than just a glimpse behind the curtain (or should it be shawl). The village in the eastern district of Lhuentse, has about 100 residents and no car. The artisans of Khoma weave intricate patterns and motifs on cotton, silk or nettle cloth for many hours a day in the dimly lit spaces at their homes or nearby huts where they keep the spools and looms that are traditional to Bhutan.


Gangtey Valley

Passing the yaks on a mountainside and entering into one of Bhutan's most sacred sites The temple of Gangtey Goemba, is the primary attraction and symbolizes tranquility and peace where you can see the farmer working in their fields with surrounding environments. The real gem here is Gangtey itself and its breathtaking natural beauty. Hundreds of miles of relatively level trails for hiking await you here. You can try out archery, mountain biking camping birding, picnicking or just admiring sunsets over various settings from open fields to deep woods.


Dochu La

Dochu is located at an elevation of 3100 meters above sea level on the East-West highway and is about 50 minutes’ drive from Thimphu. Although Dochu La is not the highest pass in Bhutan, it’s interesting to see it. La epitomizes religion, courage, and Bhutanese culture. It has Tibetan prayer flags and 108 memorial stupas constructed as a homage to the soldiers who died during the war between Bhutan and Indian rebels in the year 2003. After defeating the Indian rebels Druk Wangyal Lhakang (Temple) was built here. The name Wangyal means Victory. Mount Gangkar Puensum etc that are over 7000 meters Himalayan vistas like Masaganang (7,200m), Kangphugang (7,170m), Tsendagang (6,960 m), Jejegangphugang (7,158m), Terigang (7,060 m) and so forth


Bumthang

This district, situated in the heart of the mountains is known for its significance, in the country. Within its four valleys lie landmarks such as Jampey Lhakhang, a Buddhist temple dating back to the 7th century and Jakar Dzong, a majestic fortress constructed in 1549. Take a break savor some cheese and jams at Bumthang Swiss Cheese then enjoy a beer, at Red Panda Beer Factory nearby. 


Mount Chomolhari

The great Himalayas has the Chomolhari Mountian (also known as Jomolhari Mountain) that stands on Bhutan’s borders. This captivating mountain, standing at about 2,700m above the ground level is affectionately referred to as the ‘Bride of the Kangchenjunga’ as it lies near this. Bhutan is very known for its legend and myths, One of which this mountain supposedly houses the residence place or abode Goddess Jomo who protects Happy Kingdom - As how it got named. Since the folklore of Bhutan had it, no one could climb Chomolhari Mountain till 1924 - everyone who tried to do so would either simply fall or be pushed. But now it is a hot-spot among the trekkers and travelers who seek thrills. You must not miss this fortress even if you do not want to climb Mount Chomolhari!




Best Time to Visit Bhutan

The spring, from March to May is certainly one of the best time in Bhutan but opposite side autumn months that ranges from September- November must be considered as an ideal cling period. The weather is dry and mild, of course because there's never a time that the scenery isn't beautiful but particularly gorgeous. Some of the Top Visitors Sites in Bhutan like Taktsang Goemba, Punakha Dzong and Tashichho Dzong can get crowded especially during spring and autumn but you will also have increased chances to make more friends from all around the world.


Bhutan in Winter

This cold season will last between the end of November and early March. There is very heavy snowfall above 3,000 meters also temperatures across the country drop with some places having frosty mornings. The most severe noise heard in these mythical passes during winter is that of storm winds screaming like a banshee; my meditation soup eating came back into the world from one such maelstrom (the very name of Bhutan itself means ‘Land of the Thunder Dragon') When I was rudely brought back to reality by a bowl of soup and a small gale that I had not heard at all, it all made sense again. Some districts’ roads especially in Eastern Nepal may be blocked while many remote villages including temples and monasteries will suffer from interrupted traffic flow. The high mountain passes have polar conditions but the central highlands and areas further south offer warmer climates that are perfect, for hiking. Even though Bhutan typically enjoys weather winter temperatures often dip below zero. For instance in January Paro in the west can reach temperatures as 6°C. However, in the eastern regions the weather is generally milder.


Bhutan in Spring

Spring in Bhutan is rather brief, from early March to mid-April or so when the summer rains start coming. It is the time of year when temperatures are at their most pleasant, snows melt and pretty wildflowers blanket the slopes with plenty of appeal for photograph opportunities incidents; although high humidity low rainfall into play in March. Clear viewsThough what really puts a spring Bhutan holiday in its place is the absolutely clarity of decoration. Some of the most beautiful Himalayan panoramas at high elevations


Bhutan in Summer

Summer Monkey perhaps for most of long the summer starts around April 20 and ends in mid-September. From late-June onward, heavy rainfall occurs as the monsoon takes place across parts of country especially in south. Summer flash flooding provides risk for rural communities, road travel and timely transport of healthcare via domestic flights. Whereas it is very humid, evening temperatures can fall considerably - especially in the north. Warmest in July, when it the temperature get up to 31.5°C on eastern part of country with average maximum around Thimphu about 26°C (79°F).


Bhutan in Autumn

The autumn season follows the rains typically beginning in September or early October characterized by sunny days with a cool and fresh feel. The scenery, during this time is often breathtaking making it a popular peak season. In the regions, at altitudes there may even be early snowfall as autumn unfolds.




Best Bhutan Tours

Boldhimalay can directly arrange below mentioned tours for you. Click the title of these tours for learning about them in detail.


Bhutan Tour 5 Days 4 Nights

One of the options contains a short but informative tour to Bhutan package. Drive from Paro to Thimphu and arrange your program well, then you need to visit the rest of the places. You will visit the major cities which are Paro Thimphu and Punakha. This is the list of Bhutan's Top Attraction Visiting historical places i.e., Ta Dzong, Rinpung Dzong, Memorial Chorten, Tashichho DzongFolk Heritage Museum, and many more. You will also join a hike up to the famous Tiger’s Nest Monastery, leading you to jaw-dropping views and an unforgettable spiritual journey. On the fifth day, you will have some last-minute sightseeing in Paro before your departure.


Bhutan Tour 4 Days 3 Nights

This tour package is best for those who have little time but still want to see & experience Bhutan. In Paro - home of the only airport in this Himalayan mountain kingdom sandwiched between India and China.  Here you visit Ta Dzong, followed by Rinpung Dzong en route to Thimphu. Day two consists of a sightseeing tour in Thimphu, with visits to the Memorial Chorten and Tashichho Dzong. Day 3 Your journey takes you to the impressive Tiger´s Nest Monastery, lodged high up on a cliff. Transfer to the airport for departure on Day 4. This package is the same as 5 days tour except for trip to punakha.


10 Days Bhutan Sightseeing Tour Package

This trip covers all the best of Bhutan's culture and natural wonders. Upon arrival in Paro, you will visit the National Museum and Rinpung Dzong. This itinerary includes major stops in Thimphu, Punakha, Gangtey Valley, and Paro. Each stop has its own characteristics and offerings like the sacred Chimi Lhakhang in Punakha, or an afternoon kayak on a serene section of river not too far from Ganftey Gompa. Adding to the tour is a hike to Tiger's Nest Monastery and plenty of opportunities for hands-on experiences with local customs, creating an overall enriching experience in Bhutan.


Druk Path Trek Tour

Its a six-day trek in Bhutan that connects Paro to Thimphu, richly endowed with flora and fauna plus magnificent clear blue untouched lakes(Jangchulakha lake and Jimilang Tsho lake). Go through beautiful landscapes and lakes. Both are great for fishing and there is plenty of time to rest by the peaceful lakes (they even have a bench Good place to stay on this trail around it at Simkota) or take graceful walks up simulating hills to admire 180 degrees of Nepal mountains fairly well glimpsed with their snow-cloaked crags looming over Bhutan. The trek also composes to meet local nomadic yak herders and explore the natural beauty of Bhutan dearly close which makes it perfect for those adventure seekers and nature lovers.


Jomolhari Trek & Bhutan Cultural Tour

This package is an all-inclusive one that offers a combination of adventurous trekking and cultural sightseeing. The Jomolhari Trek is an eight-day excursion to the base of Mount Jomolhari, through remote villages, high mountain passes, and pristine forests. These include stunning perspectives of some of them like Jichu Drake peaks, jangothang base camp, and yak herders almost semi-nomadic in nature. Other attractions include Paro’s Tiger’s Nest Monastery, Thimphu’s Tashichho Dzong, Punakha Dzong in Punakha, etc. The tour still goes on where cultural visits to significant sites such as the Tiger Nest Monastery, Tashichho Dzong, and Punakha Dzong will be made especially in Paro, Thimphu, and Punakha respectively. People looking for adventure combined with immersion into Bhutanese culture would definitely love this offer.




FAQs

Do I have to get a visa if I want to travel to Bhutan?

Yes all visitors (excluding citizens) must obtain a visa before entering Bhutan, which is typically organized by a tour company.


When is the ideal time to go to Bhutan?

The optimal periods, for visiting Bhutan are spring (March to May) and autumn (September, to November) as the weather is delightful and numerous festivals are held during these times.


How do I get to Bhutan? 

The primary airport to fly into is Paro International Airport, where you can catch flights operated by Druk Air and Bhutan Airlines from cities, in Asia. You can also enter the country overland from India.


Can you travel independently in Bhutan?

One cannot go to bhutan by themselves ***VISITORS TO BHUTAN MUST BOOK TOUR THROUGH ACCREDITED BHUTANESE TOUR OPERATOR OR THEIR INTERNATIONAL PARTNERS.


What are the Packing Essentials for Bhutan

Pack according to the season. Layers for the wind and cold, comfortable walking shoes (waterproof if possible), a nice camera to capture everything you see and do, any necessary personal medication. Keep in mind the range appropriate gear for trekking.


How much does it cost for a tourist visiting Bhutan per day?

There is a daily rate system for tourists in Bhutan which includes lodging, meals, a guide licensed by the government, transportation and entrance fees for attractions. The normal rate is $200 daily per person throughout low seasons (December to February and June to August), while it rises up to $250 per person per night during high season (March to May and September to November).


What types of lodging options can you find in Bhutan?

In Bhutan you can choose from a variety of places to stay such, as high end hotels and resorts as authentic guesthouses and homestays. The usual tour package usually consists of 3 star hotels. You have the option to opt for 4 star or 5 star accommodations, for a fee.


Can it be said that tourists are protected from harm while being in Bhutan?  

For sure, absolutely safe for tourists! Crime levels are low; local people treat travelers kindly. Nevertheless, just like anywhere else in the world, it is good practice to take all necessary precautions.


What language is spoken in Bhutan?

In Bhutan the official language is Dzongkha while English is widely used and serves as the language, in Seychelles. This makes it convenient for visitors from English speaking countries to communicate easily as education in Seychelles is conducted in English. When it comes to tipping in Bhutan many tourists wonder if it's customary. The general practice is to tip guides around $10 per day and drivers $5 per day although tipping is not mandatory.


How is the mobile network connectivity?

If you're wondering whether your mobile phone will work in Bhutan the answer is yes. International roaming options are available. May come with charges. Alternatively you can opt for a SIM card for affordable rates. While mobile coverage is reliable in towns it may be limited or nonexistent, in areas.


How is the food in Bhutan?

For example, some of the dishes found in Bhutanese cuisine are chilli-based such as ema datshi (chillies and cheese stew) while others like momos (filled dumplings that also exist in other regions where Buddhism is common to the extent that it may be considered a part of Himalayan, Central Asian or even Indian food cultures. Meals included in the tour packages are mostly traditional Bhutanese and variety or Indian, Nepalese and continental (English) buffets.


Should I know any cultural etiquette?

Absolutely visitors must dress appropriately, especially when you are planning to visit the religious places The protocol of slipping off shoes when entering temples is observed, and there should be no touching or coming in contact with any sacred objects. Do not take photos of people without asking, especially monks.