Looking for the Best places to visit in Buhtan 2023? Would you like to know the top 10 tourist attractions? Do you want to know how to plan a trip to Bhutan – nature, culture, and serenity? Why is Bhutan a popular tourist destination?
Along with being a popular travel destination, Bhutan is a nation with a distinct political and social structure. The only nation in the world to gauge its development using Gross National Happiness, which puts the welfare of its people ahead of economic expansion, is Bhutan. Bhutan is a constitutional monarchy with a king serving as the head of state and a democratic parliament.
Bhutan is a small country in the Himalayas, known for its rich culture, stunning scenery, and Buddhist heritage. But is it really the happiest place on earth, as some claim? Or is it a repressive regime that denies its people basic freedoms and rights? In this article, we will explore the best places to visit in Bhutan in 2023.
Best places to visit in Bhutan in 2023
Bhutan, a stunning country known for its rich culture, offers several must-visit spots in 2023:
- Paro Taktsang: Known as the Tiger’s Nest, this sacred monastery atop a cliff in Paro Valley offers breathtaking views. Hiking or a horse ride leads to this iconic site.
- Punakha Dzong: Bhutan’s second-largest fortress at the confluence of rivers, showcasing exquisite woodwork, paintings, and housing sacred relics.
- Buddha Dordenma: A colossal 51-meter tall Buddha statue in Thimphu Valley, adorned with 125,000 smaller Buddhas inside, symbolizing peace.
- Chele La Pass: Bhutan’s highest motorable pass at 3,988 meters, boasting panoramic Himalayan views, yak herders, and great birdwatching.
- Phobjikha Valley: A winter habitat for endangered black-necked cranes, offering scenic beauty, wildlife, and a visit to Gangteng Monastery, a prominent Bhutanese monastery.
Bhutan tourist attractions and sightseeing
Bhutan offers diverse attractions for tourists, including:
- Thimphu Chorten (Memorial Chorten): A significant stupa in Thimphu honoring the third king of Bhutan, adorned with galleries showcasing Buddha’s life and Bhutanese history.
- Dochula Pass: A picturesque mountain pass famous for 108 chortens, a temple, and panoramic Himalayan views on clear days.
- Trongsa Dzong: The largest and historic fortress, home to Bhutan’s royal family, featuring 25 temples and hosting the annual Trongsa Tsechu festival.
- Bumthang District: The spiritual hub of Bhutan with four valleys, each offering ancient temples, monasteries, fortresses, hot springs, and cultural festivals.
- Haa Valley: A remote valley known for its untouched beauty, rural life, unique culture of the Haap people, and ancient temples like Lhakhang Karpo and Lhakhang Nagpo.
Bhutan travel tips
When traveling to Bhutan, keep these key tips in mind:
- Plan ahead with a licensed tour operator as independent travel isn’t allowed. Expect a daily tariff covering essentials like accommodation, transport, meals, and a guide, set at USD 250 per person.
- Respect local customs and traditions. Dress modestly, behave respectfully in sacred places, avoid smoking or littering, and greet locals with a slight bow and a smile.
- Be mindful of altitude and weather. Some areas exceed 3,000 meters, so watch for altitude sickness symptoms. Drink water, acclimatize slowly, and pack according to Bhutan’s seasonal changes: spring, summer, autumn, and winter.
How to plan a trip to Bhutan – nature, culture, and serenity
To plan a trip to Bhutan, you need to consider the following factors:
- You need to book your trip through a licensed Bhutanese tour operator or one of their international partners. You cannot travel independently in Bhutan.
- You need to pay a minimum daily package rate of USD 200-250 per person per night, which covers your accommodation, meals, transport, guide, and visa fee. This also includes a sustainable tourism royalty of USD 65 per person per night, which goes to the government for social welfare and environmental protection.
- You need to obtain a visa from the Department of Immigration of Bhutan, which will be arranged by your tour operator upon confirmation of your itinerary and payment.
- You need to fly to Paro International Airport, the only international airport in Bhutan, from one of the following cities: Bangkok, Delhi, Kathmandu, Kolkata, Dhaka, Singapore, or Guwahati. Alternatively, you can enter Bhutan by road from India through the border towns of Phuentsholing, Gelephu, or Samdrup Jongkhar.
- You need to respect the local culture, customs, and dress code of Bhutan. You should wear modest clothing that covers your shoulders and knees, especially when visiting religious sites. You should also refrain from smoking, drinking, or taking drugs in public places.
What to see and do in Bhutan – the land of the thunder dragon
What is the tourist attraction found in Bhutan?
There are many tourist attractions found in Bhutan, ranging from natural wonders to cultural heritage. Some of the most popular ones are:
- Paro Taktsang, or the Tiger’s Nest Monastery, a sacred site perched on a cliff above the Paro Valley.
- Punakha Dzong, a majestic fortress and monastery that served as the capital of Bhutan until 1955.
- Buddha Dordenma, a giant statue of Buddha that overlooks the Thimphu Valley and houses thousands of smaller statues inside.
- Phobjikha Valley, a glacial valley that is home to the endangered black-necked cranes that migrate from Tibet every winter.
- Dochula Pass, a scenic mountain pass that offers panoramic views of the Himalayan peaks and features 108 memorial stupas.
What attracts most travelers to Bhutan?
Most travelers are attracted to Bhutan by its unique combination of nature, culture, and serenity. Bhutan is a country that:
- Has a pristine environment that is rich in biodiversity and protected by strict conservation policies. Bhutan is the only carbon-negative country in the world, meaning that it absorbs more carbon dioxide than it emits.
- Has a vibrant culture that is deeply influenced by Buddhism and expressed through its architecture, art, festivals, and cuisine. Bhutan is the last remaining Vajrayana Buddhist country in the world, and has a distinctive style of dzongs, thangkas, tsechus, and ema datshi.
- Has a serene atmosphere that is conducive to meditation and spirituality. Bhutan is a country that measures its progress by Gross National Happiness, a concept that prioritizes the well-being of its citizens over economic growth.
For what Bhutan is famous for?
Bhutan is famous for being the happiest place on earth, according to some surveys and rankings. Bhutan is also famous for being the land of the thunder dragon, a mythical creature that symbolizes the power and sovereignty of the Bhutanese people.
Why is Bhutan a popular tourist destination?
Bhutan is a popular tourist destination because it offers a unique and authentic travel experience that is unlike any other country in the world. Bhutan is a country that:
- Preserves its ancient traditions and values in the face of modernization and globalization. Bhutan has a policy of high-value, low-impact tourism that limits the number of visitors and ensures that they respect and appreciate the local culture.
- Challenges its visitors to explore its diverse and rugged terrain and discover its hidden treasures. Bhutan has a variety of landscapes and climates, from subtropical plains to alpine mountains, that offer opportunities for adventure and nature lovers.
- Inspires its visitors to reflect on their own happiness and well-being and learn from the wisdom and happiness of the Bhutanese people. Bhutan has a philosophy of Gross National Happiness that guides its development and governance and aims to balance material and spiritual needs.
What do you wear in Bhutan?
Particularly while attending places of worship, you should dress modestly, covering your knees and shoulders. Since you will be taking them off while visiting temples and monasteries, you should also wear easy-to-remove comfortable footwear. Shorts, skirts, tank tops, and other exposing clothing that can irritate the locals should be avoided.
The weather in Bhutan varies a lot depending on the season and altitude, so you should dress appropriately. It is advisable to pack warm clothing for the winter and high altitude regions, including jackets, sweaters, caps, gloves, and scarves. During the monsoon season, you should also pack rain gear, such as waterproof shoes, raincoats, and umbrellas.
Does it snow in Bhutan?
Yes, it does snow in Bhutan, especially in the higher altitudes and during the winter months. The snowfall can vary from year to year, depending on the weather patterns and climate change. Some of the places where you can see snow in Bhutan are:
- Haa Valley, a remote and beautiful valley that is covered with snow in the winter and offers stunning views of the Himalayas.
- Chele La Pass, the highest motorable road in Bhutan that connects Paro and Haa valleys and often receives heavy snowfall in the winter.
- Jomolhari, the second highest mountain in Bhutan that is revered as the abode of a goddess and offers a challenging trekking route that crosses snowy passes.
- Gangtey, a picturesque valley that is famous for its black-necked cranes and its annual winter festival that celebrates the arrival of these birds.
- Bumthang, a region that is known as the spiritual heartland of Bhutan and has many ancient temples and monasteries that are surrounded by snow-capped mountains
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