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Bhutan - The Kingdom of Happiness
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Call it a landlocked country tucked in the Eastern Himalayas, 'Land of Thunder Dragon’ or the ‘Kingdom of happiness’, Bhutan is the most beautiful picture painted on Mother Nature’s canvas. This small country in Asia is one of the last remaining Buddhist nations in the world sharing the vulnerable borders with India and China. What makes it the most loved among the tourists is its strong reverence towards nature, cultural preservation and sustainability.
Since this beautiful Kingdom is a flag bearer of ‘High Value, Low Volume’ tourism, it also enjoys a reputation of exclusivity and authenticity. It has been dwelling on its vibrant tourism business that keeps prospering year on year. The travellers from around the globe are fascinated by its remoteness, untouched mountains, hill-top monasteries, scenic beauty and crisp fresh mountain air, well-preserved culture and a network of swift rivers.
One interesting fact to know here is that the wealth of the country is measured by the ‘Gross National Happiness’ index, which makes Bhutan the happiest country in Asia and the eighth happiest in the world. It proves the fact that the cheerful people, colourful attires, music and peaceful vibes here are enough to keep you hooked and happy.
For those who want a bit of everything, a personalised Bhutan Trip can be devised by Dook as we guarantee an exciting mix of it all.
Languages: English, Hindi, Dzongkha, Tshanglakha, Lhotshamkha
Currency: Bhutanese Ngultrum
Driving Side: Left
Best Time to Travel: Between September to February
Bhutan’s tourism model, from the very beginning, has been based on principles that are ecologically, socially, economically and culturally viable. The Royal Government of the Kingdom had, therefore, adopted a very cautious approach to the growth of tourism in Bhutan. As of today, tourism stands as one of the most significant businesses for Bhutan and its strong policy of controlled and responsible tourism is helping the Kingdom preserve its charm and keep up its image of exclusivity.
Be it Bhutan’s only one-of-its-kind international airport that lies in the deep Paro valley surrounded by hills, the sights and sounds at Paro Valley or a ‘worth-the-effort’ climb to majestic Tiger’s Nest Monastery, Bhutan, is just not an ordinary place; it is a dream worth recalling.
1. Paro: The idyllic wonder
Tucked in the southern slopes of Eastern Himalayas and set at the foothills of Mount Jomolhari, the little town of Paro (also called Paro Valley) is surreal and surprising. It is bounded by India in the south and south-west and by Tibet in the north. This region is unbelievably picturesque and one of the widest in the entire Kingdom of Bhutan and the crystalline river meandering down the valley along with the lush rice fields add to its beauty.
The name ‘Paro’ brings an array of surreal images into our minds; a picture that features the majestic Himalayas, rugged wilderness of the valley and the long-drawn-out landscapes stretching under the blue dome of the sky. Apart from being one of the wondrous creations of nature, Paro is known for being home to over 155 ancient temples and monasteries. It is extremely famous for its iconic trek to Taktsang Monastery also popularly called the Tiger’s Nest. It is a Buddhist temple complex that clings to a cliff, around 10,000 feet above sea level and the only way to reach the temple is by trekking. The path, which begins with a small incline, gradually leads trekkers to a pine forest. The roots of these trees are spread out like a network and offer the only grip on the smooth mud terrain. The sights here are to die for. If you are the one who loves adventure, Paro hosts activities like rafting, kayaking, biking and trekking too.
An interesting fact is that Bhutan’s first and only international airport is in Paro and its proximity to the historical sites has resulted in the development of some of the most high-end tourist resorts making Paro one of the main destinations for travellers. You must not miss taking a window seat when travelling on a flight to Paro because most of your journey will be about overlooking the mysterious mountains calling you to explore them.
On the Wander-List: Tiger’s Nest, the National Museum of Bhutan, Drugyel Dzong, Tachog Lhakhang, Chele La Pass, Paro Weekend Market, Airport View Point, Namgay Artisanal Brewery, Rinpung Dzong.
If a Bhutan tour is on your mind, you can rely on us completely! We handpick some of the best travel packages for you. Have a look here.
2. Thimphu: The photogenic gem
Currently, the modern capital city of Bhutan, Thimphu, formerly spelled as Thimbu, is culturally rich and naturally blessed. The vast spreads of lush greenery and absolute peace of mind feel like nothing but a painter’s imagination. Though this paradise nestled in the mighty Himalayas, is the main centre of religion and culture in Bhutan, the chic restaurants as well as the nightclubs thronging the city streets make Thimphu a great place to bang for your buck.
Being one of the most intriguing destinations in Bhutan, Thimphu’s growth on the scale of tourism has been quite noteworthy. Of course, the combination of ancient traditions and modernity has played a pivotal role. While there have been numerous activities to indulge in like museum hopping or nature strolls, you may choose to start your trip by visiting the Buddha Dordenma, a gigantic Buddha statue made of bronze and gilded in gold. What further makes Thimphu even more beautiful is its assortment of little rural villages spread over the valley. These include Taba, Langchupakha, Motithang and many more that add to the endless scopes of exploration here.
On the Wander-List: Buddha Dordenma statue, National Memorial Chorten, Tashichho Dzong, Folk Heritage Museum, Motithang Takin Preserve, National Handicrafts Emporium, jungshi paper making factory.
3. Punakha: A sightseer’s dream
Once the capital of Bhutan, Punakha, is a quaint little town, sitting at the intersection of two main rivers- Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu. This city that resembles the meadow from paradise is abundantly filled with the paddy fields, dancing with the happy winds here. The tourists swarm here because of an exceptional sightseeing experience that is next to none!
Right from the awe-inspiring Punakha Dzong soaring and standing high in between the confluence of two rivers to an off-the-beaten tour of Chimi Lhakhang Temple, Punakha is different from the other towns in Bhutan. It has also gained a reputation as an adventure sports destination as activities such as white water rafting, trekking and biking have been luring a lot of adventure explorers for quite some time now.
If you are looking to get that picture-perfect shot as a remembrance of your Bhutan holiday or a spiritually awakening walk, Punakha Suspension Bridge is the place to be at! The strange silence here, running across the water gushing quietly and birds chirping offer one of exceptional experiences and peace to the mind and your travelling soul!
On the Wander-List: Punakha Dzong, Chimi Lhakhang Temple, Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten, Jigme Dorji National Park, Punakha Suspension Bridge, Limbhukha Village.
4. Wangdue Phodrang: Flourishing with natural beauty
Being one of the largest districts in Bhutan, Wangdue Phodrang has everything that a tourist yearns for, be it the gorgeous monasteries, exotic wildlife, scenic or rustic villages. The reason why the region has gained popularity is its diverse topography with subtropical forests in the south and snowy areas in the north. Trekking contributes as another factor for luring the adventure seekers here.
The most prominent area here in the region is the Phobjikha Valley, which is one of the few glacial valleys in Bhutan and also the winter nesting ground for the rare black-necked cranes. Wangdue Phodrang is also home to rare species like Red Panda, Snow Leopard and Blue Sheep and also boasts some of the uncommon plants like orchids, Rhododendrons, Blue Poppy.
On the Wander-List: Gangtey Monastery, Phobjikha Valley, Dargay Goempa, Adha & Rukha, Gaselo & Nahee village.
Top Bucket List Experiences in Bhutan:
1. Trek to the crowning jewel of Bhutan-Taktsang Monastery
Paro Taktsang (Taktsang monastery) or popularly known as Tiger’s Nest Monastery is one of the most prominent Buddhist sacred sites and temple complex located on the cliffside of upper Paro valley. It is the most iconic landmark and a favourite bucket list destination in Bhutan.
Visiting here is surely an unforgettable experience, thanks to its uniquely remote location and the majestic views of mountains and emerald green valleys. While it is a hard climb up to the monastery which is only through trekking or a pony ride, the tedious hiking efforts are worth it. Along the way, you will walk past many colourful prayer flags that are strung up and fluttering amidst the alpine forest. These flags surface in five colors representing the five elements of nature. Once you reach the Monastery, the impressive views out of the valley and the enthralling caves that have a rich historic past, are absolute sights to behold. This is one place where you will feel nature and spirituality are in perfect harmony.
Booking your Bhutan Tour with an awe-inspiring Taktsang monastery experience is too easy with Dook. See one of our itineraries here.
2. The colossal wonder of Buddha Dordenma
Undoubtedly, one of the most beautiful highlights of Bhutan, Buddha Dordenma offers views that leave you impressed at its first sight. As you climb up the hill in Kuenselphodrang Nature Park, you will be welcomed by the view of this gigantic, one of the largest Shakyamuni Buddha statues seated peacefully against the backdrop of a mountain. However, as you come closer, you will be baffled by a surprise awaiting you.
This statue which is made of bronze and gilded in gold encloses 1,25,000 miniature Buddhas within its bronze chest. This view is as majestic as a royal wonder and fills your soul with utter happiness and peace.
3. Experience the rustic beauty of Punakha Dzong
Regarded rightly as the ‘the palace of happiness or bliss’, Punakha Dzong is one of the most artistic ancient wonders in the Kingdom. It is a nearly 400-year-old fortress that is both the second oldest and second-largest Dzong in the kingdom.
Built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, a Tibetan Buddhist lama, every Bhutanese king has been crowned here. What is interesting is that the fortress is still in use as the winter residence of the official monk body of the kingdom. The Dzong boasts a six-story central tower, whitewashed walls and timber windowpanes which depicts that the entire building is built keeping in mind a rustic, traditional Bhutanese architectural style.
4. A rendezvous with Bhutan’s national animal at Motithang Takin Preserve
Motithang Takin Preserve, located in the Motithang district of Thimphu, Bhutan is a wildlife reserve area for takin (Budorcas taxicolor), the national animal of Bhutan. The takin is a rare type of goat-antelope living in the Eastern Himalayas which looks like a mishmash of cows and goats. Being the national animal of the Kingdom, they are held in extremely high esteem.
This wildlife area, previously known as the Royal Takin Preserve, was a mini zoo but then eventually got converted into a preserve as the then king did not believe in confining the animals. Here, while you can visit to see the takins in the early morning, a stroll around the area unveils the exquisite wildlife that should be seen once.
5. The visually pleasing sights of Changangkha Lhakhang
Changangkha Lhakhang is one of the oldest temples in Thimphu situated on a small hill. Its fable of being a wish-fulfilling temple attracts a lot of locals daily. The temple is deeply rooted in the native culture with magnificent prayer bells on the outer region scripted with black and gold manuscripts. Enhancing the beauty of its revered ambiance are two beautifully embedded gigantic prayer wheels that are visually and mentally pleasing.
6. Get seated in faith at National Memorial Chorten Thimphu
Situated well within the capital city of Thimphu, National Memorial Chorten is one of the major religious landmarks in Bhutan. It is built in the memory of the third Druk Gyalpo (Head of Kingdom) of Bhutan. The word ‘Chorten’, in the local language, means ‘Seat of Faith’ and the structure of Chorten itself has become an important part of the Bhutanese culture.
Upon visiting, you will be awestruck by the Bhutanese people circumambulating around the Chorten, throughout the day. The Memorial also attracts a lot of tourists from around the world due to its serene ambiance, white-washed interiors and exteriors and architectural connection with Bhutan’s rich culture.
Looking for a splendid tour to Bhutan? Dook is where your search ends!
Your peace of mind while travelling is our business. And we, therefore, curate your Bhutan Tour Package with a purpose - the purpose of offering you nothing but a happy travelling experience in the Kingdom of Happiness. Let Dook International be a professional planner for your vacation to Bhutan as we aim at giving new dimensions to your travel dreams. Book a personalised tour with us today!
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