Bhutan On a Budget
Top Tourist AttractionsThere are numerous sights and attractions to be seen in Bhutan, whether your interests are natural beauty, historic sights, or cultural wonders. Hundreds of monasteries dot the landscape in some of the most pristine and remote areas. Dzongs also dot the countryside and were built without the use of cement, nails or plans. The dzongs are ancient fortresses that now serve as the civil and monastic administration headquarters of each district. Apart from the architecture, which in itself makes a dzong worth visiting, they also hold many art treasures.
Chendebji Chorten: This religious building was supposedly constructed to calm the evil spirit of a giant serpent.
Taktsang Monastery (Tiger's Nest), Paro: This temple, built beside a 1,200 meter cliff in 1692 is one of the most significant Buddhist sites in the world and one of the most visited sites in Bhutan. Guru Rinpoche visited here during his second visit to Bhutan in the 8th century. Legend says he arrived on the back of a winged tigress, giving the site its name of Tigers Nest.
Kurje Lhakhang, Jakar: This temple was built around a cave and it has a body print of Guru Rinpoche embedded in its wall.
Tashichho Dzong: This Buddhist monastery and fortress is located on the northern edge of the city of Thimpu. Thimpu is located on the western bank of the Wang Chu.
The western area includes Thimphu, Paro, Haa, Wangdue Phodrang, Punakha and Gasa. In the western part of the country, you can attend the summer festival of Haa and delve into the wonders of the ancient living culture of the Haaps (People from Haa). You can also visit temples, dzongs and museums or attend a textile festival that brings to life the rich culture of Bhutanese weaving. Western Bhutan is home to some of the country's finest museums, and you'll not want to miss the opportunity to learn about our storied history and traditional culture. Paro museum (Tadzong), displays hundreds of artifacts revealing the history and culture of Bhutan, In Thimphu, let the Folk Heritage museum enthuse you with an in-depth look into a typical farmers' livelihood.
Central Bhutan is where you'll find a variety of historical and religious sites. You'll find many ancient temples and monasteries in the Bumthang district and the Trongsa district has much political significance. Popular landmarks in this region include Kurje Lhakhang, a temple dating back to 1652, Tamshing Lhakhang, dating back to 1501, and the sacred lake of Mebar Tsho.
You'll find much great natural beauty in the central part of Bhutan. There are many alpine and sub-tropical forests and the Thrumshingla National Park is known for its rare bird species.
Eastern Bhutan is a less visited part of the country, so it offers a truly authentic experience. If you're looking for adventure then this entire region has no shortage of natural beauty, beautiful cliffs, and untouched forests. You'll find a wide range of altitudes and climates, making for an unpredictable and varied experience. This region is also where you'll find some of the country's most ancient spiritual traditions including Animistic and Bon religious rituals. If you want to enjoy a longer trek or unmatched adventure, then this is the region to visit.
ActivitiesTrekking: Many people visit Bhutan for the impressive treks. Many are quite challenging but well worth the effort. As you get to the higher regions you'll find fewer places to stay or restaurants where you can eat, so make sure you travel with the proper equipment.
Festivals: Tshechu, held during the late summer and fall seasons, is the largest religious festival in Bhutan, but Thimphu Tshechu is the most famous festival, gather a crowd of nearly 30,000 people. The ceremonies are known for the dances of the masked monks.
In addition to the older festivals in Bhutan, there are also many newer festivals in the region like the annual Nomad's Festival and the Matsutake Mushroom Festival in Ura, Bumthang. The Haa festival illustrates many Shamanic rituals and a variety of folk dances. The rare Himalayan flowers are a unique sight as well. A trek to Nob Tsonapatra offers a unique perspective on the legends of the area. In Thimphu you can witness the newly introduced Takin Festival, MICE & GNH conferences, meditation and wellness facilities.
Archery: This is the national sport of Bhutan. You'll find many archery competitions all over the country each weekend.
Hot Stone Bath: this is a unique experience in Bhutan where riverside rocks are heated and then put into a wooden tub with Artemisia leaves. The rocks heat the water and fill it with minerals.
Read more: A guide to backpacking solo in Bhutan