‘The land of happiness’, ‘The Kingdom above the clouds’, ‘The land of the Thunder Dragon’… Bhutan has gained a few names over the years which is a pretty good indicator of how epic it truly is. Whether you’ve been dreaming of heading to this magical corner of the world for a while or if it has only just landed on your radar, you’re in the right place. We’re going to let you in on some of the absolute must do’s whilst you’re in Bhutan.
1. Hike The Tiger's Nest Monastery
The Tiger’s Nest Monastery (Paro Takstang) is in one word, extraordinary. The buildings are perched on the side of a cliff, 10,000ft above sea-level! It was built in 1692 and still functions as a monastery today with monks living on the mountain. You’ll need to hike here and the trail begins just 10 miles north of Paro (a 20-minute drive).
2. Visit Punakha Dzong
Punakha Dzong is stunning. It is the second oldest and second biggest in all of Bhutan but arguably the most beautiful. It is located between two rivers and you have to cross a bridge to access it. The most interesting thing about this building? Not one nail was used to create it... not one!
3. Check out Bhutan's longest suspension bridge
Perched above the speedy river of Po Chhu, the Punakha Suspension Bridge is 160m (524ft) long and lined with prayer flags. The views from the bridge are spectacular and the best thing is, it's only half a mile from Punakha Dzong so you can do both at the same time.
4. Be in awe of Buddha Dordenma
When you see Buddha Dordenma you'll be blown away by how big it is (169ft!), but what's even more surprising is that there are 125,000 smaller buddhas inside it! With a population of around 100,000 people in Thimphu, there are more Buddhas than humans.
5. Go to a festival
There are heaps of festivals in Bhutan but two of the biggest are the Paro Tshechu in March and the Thimphu Tshechu in October. During both of these festivals, you'll see incredible traditional outfits, dance, food, and arts. It is arguably one of the best ways to witness Bhutanese culture and you'll be overwhelmed with wonder.
6. Try your hand at Archery
The national sport in Bhutan is archery, but they have been playing this sport long before it was even recognized as one (which means they're pretty good). They do things a bit differently here though, archery involves a lot of signing, dancing, food, and drink and is very much a social event.
7. Visit Tashichho-Dzong
The Tashichho-Dzong was first constructed in 1216! Since then the building has grown a lot. It houses the offices of the King, the Throne Room, and some government ministries. The Dzong is surrounded by beautiful gardens and enviably well-kept lawns, you won't be disappointed with a stroll around here.
8. Get a taste for Chilli
If you like spicy food, you're in luck - the Bhutanese use chilli in their breakfast, lunch, and dinner! But be careful, spicy by western standards is mild in Bhutan, so take it easy when you start out! The food here is influenced by Chinese, Tibetan and Indian cultures with many vegetarians, so you'll still have heaps to choose from if you don't eat meat.
9. Be green
Bhutan is way ahead of the game when it comes to environmentally friendly practices. They're carbon negative, emitted far less carbon dioxide than what is it adsorbed by their forests. They began their quest to ban the use of plastic bags in 1999, and their aim is to be 100% organic by 2020. Their constitution states that at least 60% of the country must remain as forest and they have an abundant supply of renewable energy... we could go on but you get the idea! You'll leave here wanting to do more.
10. The Memorial Chorten
The Memorial Chorten was designed to be 'one of the most visible religious structures in Thimphu' and reflects a Tibetan style architecture. When you visit be sure to only circle the Chorten in a clockwise direction and learn all about the 3rd Dragon King on Bhutan.