Bhutan is the place dreams are made of – the heaven reached after a lifetime of goodness. It was a closed country for the longest time, and this isolation can still be seen in the pristine beauty of the country and the simple living of its people.
Every visitor to Bhutan leaves with a lighter and happier heart. It can be quite challenging to decide what to do during your stay in Bhutan. So, I’ve curated some of the best experiences and interesting things to do, to enrich your stay in the land of happiness.
Hike to Tiger’s Nest Monastery
Taktsang Monastery, better known as the Tiger’s Nest, is an ethereal Buddhist monastery. You have to trek through craggy mountain trails to reach the red and white monastery with beautiful wooden windows and doors. Along the way are unforgettable views of the emerald green Paro valley. This monastery is a spiritual beacon and was built as a meditation center. Legend has it that centuries ago Guru Rinpoche flew on a tiger and landed here to meditate. So it is no surprise, that almost every traveler stops here for the view of a lifetime.
Get Your Customized Stamp in Thimphu Post Office
For unique travel memorabilia, visit Bhutan Post Office and get your own stamp. Use your favorite Bhutan travel profile pic (carry them on a pen drive) or get one taken on the spot. The whole process takes about 15 minutes. You could buy some postcards, and send greetings to friends and family using your postal stamps. Couple this with a visit to the postal museum in the same complex.
Museum Hop in Thimphu
Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan, is also its cultural hub. There are a plethora of museums here for you to deep dive into the culture and history of the country. Learn about the rich weaving traditions at the Royal Textile Academy. The museum has a workshop where you meet weavers and see them in action. Ensure you plan for at least a 2 hour stop at the Simply Bhutan living museum. Here you will actually experience a traditional Bhutanese lifestyle. National Folk Heritage Museum, National Textile Museum, Bhutan Library, and Terton Gallery are other attractions worth a visit.
Raft on Paro Chhu River
Drift on the clear glacial waters of the gentle Paro Chhu river as it the meanders through Paro valley. You will get beautiful views of the famous Paro Dzong and even go under the quaint wooden bridge, Nyamai Zam. The Rafting activity and leisurely exploration of Paro dzong take about half a day.
Go Fishing in Bumthang Valley
The best fishing spots are near Jakar town. Talk to locals, and head out to a quiet spot. You can spend hours fishing and soak in the silence, beauty, and majesty of Himalayan mountains. Bhutan has about 41 endemic species of fish. Like everything else in Bhutan, there several rules to ensure their protection. You can fish only in specific rivers. Fishing is prohibited on festivals, holy days, and within 1 km. of the monasteries. Keep these rules in mind, while planning your trip to avoid last minute disappointments.
Rejuvenate Yourself Through Hot Spring Therapy
Bhutan is a spiritual land. This spiritual core makes it a great place to relax and heal. Head out to one of the many hot springs found in this land. Gasa Tshachu, located in Western Bhutan, has three bathhouses. It is perfect for a good soak. To add to the experience, trek to the spring from Damji village. The six-hour trek will take you through scenic villages and bamboo forests.
Drive to Chele La Pass
Drive or ride a motorbike to the scenic Chele La pass. Keep aside a day to spend amongst nature in this pristine mountain pass located between Paro and Haa valley. There are several hiking trails in this pass. Locals come up here to put prayer flags. On clear days, you can see the enchanting Jomolhari peak.
Sample Authentic Bhutanese Cuisine
It is not difficult to get Bengali, North Indian, and Nepali food in the country – thanks to the cooks. However, when in Bhutan, it is best to eat like a Bhutanese. Emma Datshi is the most popular dish – a simple cheese and chili concoction that will blow your socks off. Paired with Bhutanese brown rice, it is irresistible. This preparation is also made with potatoes (Kewa Datshi), mushrooms (Shamu Datshi), beans, palak, and mixed vegetables. For meat lovers, there is a version with cheese, beef, and a special dried white chili called
Shakam Shukam Datshi. Also, the chewy dried beef and radish stew (Shakam Paa) is a lovely warm dish to have on cold nights. If you can handle spices try the chili sauce, Ezay. It is a good idea to talk to people, stay in homestays, and ask for food recommendations – you’ll end up with a host of cherished food memories.
These are just a snapshot of the delights Bhutan has to offer to a traveler. Whether you have an activity packed stay or a relaxed stay – you will leave with a bit of Bhutan in you. And, amongst the hustle bustle of daily life, you’ll just need to close your eyes and be back at the amongst Himalayan mountains.