Best Places to Tour & Visit
Many First Timer Tourists and Travelers to Bhutan who would like to tour this Kingdom would not know which places to visit during their Bhutan Tour.
Bhutan Jewel Travel Office recommends the following places and a brief description is given below each Visit Sites so that Tourists have some basic knowledge and will be able to decide the places of visit. However, with us its very easy to book your tour as we recommend the best itinerary that suits your stay in Bhutan.
If you are flying into the kingdom of Bhutan, soon after you leave the Indian low lying plains,you will be flying over heavy forested areas and will see the far flung Bhutanese Temples and Monasteries,and wonder how people are going to get there on foot. Then soon you will be reaching the Paro International Air Port,which although called International,is actually just a One Strip run way lying between Traditional Bhutanese Houses on one side and a high motor able road on the other side. Then as you descend to wards the Paro Valley,you will be flying very close over head the Paro Villages,Paddy fields, river,the Paro Dzong(Fortress) and then slowly but (for a First timer into Bhutan) spine chillingly ,you will land at the air strip and on landing,you are sure to wonder,wow!!! the Pilot is really good…Thank God we have landed. And usually the First Timers flying into Bhutan,clap in unison and then there is a guffaw of laughter and giggles….Truly an instant awakening of happiness from the moment you land.
We Bhutan Jewel Travel is one Tour Operator that really really looks into the happiness,peace and contentment of our Guests.
PARO: One of the main attractions in Paro is the Paro Dzong. The Paro Dzong was built in 1646, this Dzong now is the office of the district Administration and district monastic body of Bhutan.One can see the Bhutanese traditional wooden bridge in ancient style on the way to the Dzong. The National Museum (Ta Dzong) just above the Dzong, which used to be a watchtower for the Dzong. This “Taa Dzong” which was a watch tower in ancient time is now the National Museum and has a rare collection of all kinds of Masks, animals, Stamps, Photos, Statues, Pottery, Arms and Ammunition, costumes, relics, religious paintings, handicrafts, and hangs the Biggest mask in Bhutan.
- Drugyal Dzong (Victorious Fortress), which was built in 1646 where Bhutan has victory over Tibetan invasion during the 1600s. On a clear day one can get a spectacular view of Mt Jhomolhari, the second-highest mountain at 7,329 meters.
- Kyichu Lhakhang, (Lhakhang means temple) is the oldest monastery in the country, built in the 659 AD, by the King Songtsen Gompo of Tibet as one of the 108 such monasteries he built in various places to spread Buddhism. It is located between Paro Town and Drugyal Dzong. It is one of the holiest place in the country, as it marks the advent of Buddhism in the country.
- Taktsang Monastery. (Taktsang means “Tiger’s Nest “). This is most famous monastery in the country. The Monastery clings to a vertical granite cliff drop of nearly 4000 ft. and overlooks the Paro valley and the river. It is said that in the second half of the 8th century, Guru Padma Sambhava known as the second Buddha in Bhutan meditated on this spot where the Monastery is situated having alighted there on the back of a flying tigress and now this site ia a sacred shrine for Bhutanese pilgrims.
- Kila Goenpa: This is a nunnery perched on a vertical hill and usually people like to hike to this place for its serenity and beauty of looking down at the Bonday Valley. Its a half day hike.
- Tamchog Lhakhang: This temple in en route to Thimphu so any one can visit this temple which is situated on a small hill over looking the Paro river. One has to cross an ancient bridge and this bridge is the main attraction as the irons on this bridge are ancient and legend has it that these irons were pounded into Chain links by the Treasure Hunter of Bhutan in the 16th Century. The pounding was done by beating the iron on his thighs.
Thimphu is the capital city, therefore the most populated district in the country, with about 1,00,000 people. Many of the monasteries, temples and handicrafts, can be reached on foot, you can spend several days in Thimphu easily visiting all sights. This is a good way to understand the culture, traditions and see the lifestyle of the Bhutanese Societies.
- Tashichho Dzong, the main secretariat building. This massive structure houses part of the government Ministries, the office of the King and the Throne Room. It also houses the Central Monastic Body and the living quarters of the Chief Abbot and the senior monks.
- Textile Museum you will see a beautiful display of the garments worn by the Bhutanese from the 1600s up to the present.
- Folk Heritage Museum lets you explore a traditional Bhutanese home and teaches you about the daily life of the rural folk.
- The National Library holds a vast collection of ancient Buddhist manuscripts and contains arguably the best collection of religious and historical literature in the Himalayas.
- Wood Craft and Painting school where traditional arts and crafts are still kept alive through the instructions of painting and curving.
- Simtokha Dzong on a lofty ridge. Built in 1627, the Simtokha Dzong is the oldest fortress and also houses the School of Buddhist Studies.
- The weekend Farmers market is a must, for it is here that you’ll see the variety of food of the country, including basket upon basket of fiery chilies, fresh cheese, and mangoes and the seasonal vegetables eaten by the Bhutanese,including various types of Orchids and Ferns. In addition, many stalls contain Bhutanese handicrafts and household items. It’s fun to meander the aisles, taking in the lively atmosphere of the market.
There are many attractions in and around Thimphu Valley, including, monasteries, a mini zoo, archery fields, restaurants, handicraft shops, a traditional paper factory, a radio tower (which will give you a spectacular birds eye view of Thimphu valley), the National Institute of Traditional Medicine and the Memorial Chorten built in memory of the third King, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck in 1974.
Drive to Punakha the former capital of Bhutan through Dochula Pass (3150m). On the way stop for a photo stop at Dochula Pass which is 26km away from Thimphu valley, and for Tea and snacks and to enjoy the most spectacular view of eastern Himalayan snow capped Mountains and also the great view of Gasa Dzong at a distance (if weather is clear) .You can see 108 small chorten or stupas which make more beautiful the Dochula Pass. You will be amalgamating into the dense forest of pines.
- Chime Lhakhang, located on a hillock among the rice field and is a pilgrimage for childless couple. Chimi Lhakhang is know as the “Temple Of Fertility” The journey continues through varying scenes of greenery all the way to Punakha. Visit Punakha town. The Punakha Dzong lies between two great rivers with their names as the Phochu (Male River) and the Mochu (Female River). Presently,this Dzong serves as the winter residence for the Je Khenpo, Chief Abbot of the Central Monastic Body and also the office of the district Administration. Punakha Dzong was built in 1637 by the founder of Bhutan,Shabdrung Rimpoche. Shabdrung Rimpoche went into meditation in 1651 at the age of 58,for 12 long years in the Punakha Dzong,after he had established the DUAL system of Governance in Bhutan. Shabdrung Rimpoche’s death was announced only 25 years after his death,as it was believed that even after his physical death,he remained in meditation.
- Punakha Dzong houses many sacred,holy ancient relics,the most sacred being the RANGJUNG KHARSAPANI and the JHOU.
- Khamsum Yueley Temple: This is a temple situated on a hill top and built by the Queen Mother of Bhutan for the fifth and reigning King of Bhutan. The temple is a mark of Bhutanese architecture and paintings. Its a half day hike round trip.
Sitting on the top of a hill the formidable Dzong is the town’s most visible features. In the 17th century Wangdue played a critical role in unifying western, central and southern Bhutan. The town itself is little more than an enlarged village with well-provided shops and hotels.
Wangdue to Trongsa roads is one of the prettiest in Bhutan passing streams, forests and villages before ascending the Pelela Pass on the Black Mountain Ranges into the Trongsa valley. South of the highway is the Gangtey Gompa ,an old monastery dating from the 17th century. About an hour drive one can get wonderful view of Phobjikha valley which is the home of the endangered Black Necked Cranes who migrate to Bhutan from Central Asia in winter.
- Trongsa Dzong is one of the largest and longest Dzong in the country. The town is located in the center of Bhutan. The town is the most charming among of all Bhutanese towns. The town’s vista is traditional in appearance as the wooden slatted houses line up together on the side of the hill.
- The Royal Family has strong links with Trongsa. Both the first and the second king ruled the kingdom from Trongsa’s ancient Dzong. The Crown Prince of Bhutan normally holds the position of Trongsa Penlop prior to ascending the throne.
Bumthang is the largest valley in the Kingdom, and it is separated by Yutongla Pass. Composed of four beautiful valleys, the deeply spiritual region of Bumthang is shrouded in religious fable. Sometime people considered Bumthang to be like Switzerland. Jakar (white bird) Dzong is situated on the top of the hill and it gives the spectacular view of Chamkhar valley. Tales of Guru Padma Sambhava dominate these holy shrines. The valley is home to the sacred Jambay, Kurjey, Tamshing, Kenchosum and other monasteries. Bumthang is also the traditional home to the great Buddhist teacher Pema Lingpa to whom, the present monarchy traces it ancestral lineage. The town of Jakar is the largest between Thimphu in the west and Trashigang in the east. Jakar is famous for its honey, cheese, apples and apricots. Bumthang is also famous for yathra which is a unique material woven from sheep wool, intricately designed and colored to form wonderful patterns. Bumthang Tsechu (festival) is the most popular Tsechu in the country apart from Paro and Thimphu Tsechu.; Bumthang also has the famous and sacred “Membar Tsho”(The Burning Lake)
Mongar and Lhuntse
Mongar is a small eastern town located towards the side of the mountain, and Kurichu (river) has enormous capacity to generate the electricity. Mongar has a modern Dzong compared to other part of the kingdom. Lhuentse is 77 kilometers from Mongar and is one of the most isolated districts in the Kingdom. The landscape is spectacular with desolate cliffs and gorge and dense coniferous forests. The region is notably famous for its weavers and special textiles and fabrics, generally considered to be the best in the country. The Kurtoe region of Lhuentse is also the ancestral home of the Royal dynasty.
Trashigang and Yangtse
The little town of Trashigang is on the top of a mountain. The town remains the center of religious and secular activity in the east and is a growing commercial center. The 17th century Dzong is built on the top of a cliff at the edge of the town. Trashigang is also used as the market place of the nomadic people of Merak and Sakteng who are known for their unusually sharp features and for their costumes which are brightly colored and different from customary Bhutanese clothing. Trashi Yangtse offers exciting trekking opportunities and is one of the two locations where the endangered Black Necked Cranes can be spotted in winter. Trashi Yangtse is also famous for the Chorten Kora, which is one of the only two chortens built in the typical Nepalese style as prophesied by Guru Rinpoche. Trashi Yangtse is also famous for the traditional Bhutanese woodcrafts.
The South East and South West
Trashigang to Samdrup Jongkhar road was completed in the early 1960s and allows the eastern half of the country to access the benefit from the trade in the south as well as providing a border crossing to India. It is possible to exit Bhutan from Samdrup Jongkhar and Phuentsholing via the Indian territories. The drive passes from Trashigang through Kanglung, a small town where Bhutan’s only college, Sherubtse the highest level of education in Bhutan is located. Further south along the road is Khaling where one can visit a weaving center and a blind School. The road descends fairly abruptly downhill through the thick sub tropical forest before arriving at Samdrup Jongkhar. This town is small and bustling and acts as a commercial town for eastern regions and entry and exit point in the southeast to India. Phuentsholing is the commercial border town for southwest and can be used as an exit point from Bhutan.