Top Things to Do in Bhutan
Bhutan is one of the few countries in the world that preserve a good natural ecological environment. It is rich in tourism resources including magnificent and historical temples and shrines, as well as beautiful and fascinating mountains and rivers. There you have a chance to see sacred temples and marvelous natural scenery, to taste local delicious food, to go trekking or to take a walk on streets to experience happiness of the locals.
Top Attractions in Bhutan
1. Simtokha Dzong, Thimphu
Located about 5 kilometers (3 miles) south of the capital city, Simtokha Dzong, built in 1629, is the oldest temple in Bhutan and has been transformed into a Buddhist college now. It is regarded as a very important historical site and the origin of early Buddhist culture; moreover it is depicted on the banknote of the country.
2. Trashi Chhoe Dzong, Thimphu
Located on the west bank of the Wang Chhu, Trashi Chhoe Dzong is not only a prestigious Buddhist temple, but also the government center. It is the office of present King, and the summer residence of religious leaders and lamas of the central religious institutions. Tourists will be checked when they enter, and can take photos freely inside the temple; however, loud talking is prohibited. Lucky visitors may come across the King.
3. Thimphu Takin Zoo, Thimphu
Strictly speaking, it is a Takin protection zone. Takin only inhabit in Bhutan, which is the national animal of the country. The zoo is the best place to see Takin, and several deer species such as reindeer and formosan muntjac also can be seen in the zoo.
4. Taktshang Temple, Paro
Situated on a cliff about 900 meters (3,000 feet) above the ground in Paro Valley, Taktshang Temple is the most sacred Buddhist temple in the nation and one of the top 10 super temples in the world. In the legend, this temple was the location where Indian Guru Rinpoche, the second Buddha, meditated. Buddhist statues in each hall and wall paintings are unmissable. In the temple, tourists can overlook beautiful Paro Valley and have a moment of reflection.
5. Paro Dzong/Rinpung Dzong, Paro
Situated on a steep cliff, Paro Dzong houses the treasure of Bhutan - Thongdel which is a Thankha made of silk and cotton.
Thongdel is regarded as the largest and the most exquisite masterpiece of Bhutanese art.
6. Jambey Lhakhang, Bumthang
As one of the oldest temple in the country, it was built by the 33rd Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo according to the legend. Songtsen Gampo simultaneously constructed 108 temples to subdue the female demon in the Himalayan region, and Jambey Lhakhang was one of them.
7. Punakha Dzong, Punakha
Located at the confluence of the Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu rivers, Punakha Dzong is one of the most beautiful dzongs in Bhutan, especially when bluish violet jacaranda flowers are in full bloom. It was the political center and the seat of the national government until 1955. A lot of Buddhist scriptures, religious paintings, list of Buddhist celebrities and portraits of religious figures are collected in the dzong. The remain of Zhabdrung is preserved there, but visitors are forbidden to watch.
8. Mebar Tsho, Bumthang
Mebar Tsho is also called Burning Lake, but it is not a real lake. It is a gentle section of a river. It is said that Terton Pema Lingpa walked into the lake with a butter lamp in his hand. When he emerged from water, the butter lamp was still burning, hence the name. Because of this legend, Mebar Tsho becomes a sacred site. You need to walk for a while on a mountain road to get there, and bright multicolored prayer flags on the way are spectacular.
9. Phojikha Valley, Punakha
Formed by erosion of glacier, Phojikha Valley is the best place to watch black-necked cranes which will winter there between November and February. The old Gangte Goemba, a temple built by Terton Pema Lingpa, is located in the valley, which is famous for beautiful wood carvings and wall paintings. The landscape of the valley is comparable with that of Swiss.
10. Khamsum Yuelley Namgyel Chorten, Punakha
Khamsum Yuelley Namgyel Chorten is the only stupa in the world where all kinds of protector gods are worshiped. It is a holy site for the locals to pray for peace and harmony. Overlooking from the top of the stupa, visitors can have a panoramic view of the beautiful Punakha Valley.
Wheat, highland barley flour, mutton and beef are staple food of Bhutanese. They also like eating pork and cheese, and drinking buttered tea and highland barley wine. Chili peppers and pepper products are especially favored by the locals. As a seasoning, chili pepper sauce plays an important role in dining table.
Ema Datshi is a typical dish made of cheese and chili peppers. Mellow cheese and spicy peppers will stimulate your taste bud. The combination of the white and red colors can increase your appetite.
Sometimes chili peppers are used as vegetable, such as Dried Chili Salad made of whole chilies and salad dressing, giving you a chance to experience the diet of Bhutanese.
Phaksha Paa is a popular stew made of fat pork and radish. Because of the radish, the taste of pork is less fatty and the dish is refreshing and delectable. In addition, nutrition value of this dish is very high.
Because of the special terrain, Bhutan is a paradise for trekking. Trekking routes with varying difficulty levels can be chosen. The most famous and challengeable one is the Snowman Trek, which will take nearly one month due to high altitude and long route. Tourists can choose medium or low intensity route depending on strength and time. In the country, you also can experience the joy of whitewater rafting in rainy seasons.