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Best places to visit in Bhutan - The Bhutan Odyssey

Bhutan is one of the least travelled destinations in the Himalayan mountain range. But, it's monumental fortresses, grand mountains, Buddhist monasteries, historical museums, verdant valleys and ancient temples are all worth a visit. 71% of the entire land of Bhutan is under forest cover and that adds to the beauty with abundant flora and fauna. This fairytale land has been successful in striking a perfectly right balance between tradition and modernisation. Bhutan is magical in ways that are unimaginable. You have to see it to believe it. So here, in this article, we have compiled the 20 best places to visit in Bhutan.

Read best places to visit in Bhutan in this article
Read best places to visit in Bhutan in this article
 

8. 20 Best places to visit in Bhutan (This article)

 

So here is a compilation of 20 places to visit in Bhutan you must not miss out on -


1. Paro Taktsang or Tiger's Nest Monastery, Paro

Paro Taktsang or the Tiger's Nest monastery is the most sacred Buddhist site in Bhutan. It is said that a trip to Bhutan is incomplete without a visit to this holy place. Paro Taktsang is basically a group of temples clinging to the brink of an unimaginably steep and rocky cliff. It is believed that Guru Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche) flew on a tigress's back to this monastery site in the 8th century; hence the name Tiger's Nest monastery. One has to hike on a trail for 3-4 hours to reach the monastery that hangs some 800 metres above the valley. The hiking trail is extremely beautiful and dotted with colourful Buddhist flags, bright red rhododendrons and some breathtaking views of the Paro valley. Read more about Paro Taktsang and the experience of our hike to the monastery with some handy tips in our separate article on Paro Taktsang - A complete travel guide.

Paro Taktsang or The Tiger's Nest Monastery, Paro - Bhutan_ 20 top places to visit in Bhutan
Paro Taktsang or The Tiger's Nest Monastery, Paro - Bhutan_ 20 top places to visit in Bhutan

2. Buddha Dordenma Statue, Thimphu

The statue of Shakyamuni Buddha in Thimphu is the largest statue of sitting Buddha in the world. This 169-foot-tall statue of Buddha is made of bronze and is coated with gold. A meditation hall on which the statue sits houses another 125000 smaller statues of Lord Buddha. The population of Thimphu is 1.25 lakhs and the number of Buddha statues at Buddha Dordenma site itself is 1.25 lakhs, which interestingly means that there are more Buddha statues in Thimphu than the number of people. The walls of the meditation hall are painted with beautiful paintings depicting the life story of Lord Buddha from birth to enlightenment. Read more about the Buddha Dordenma statue in our separate article on Places to visit in Thimphu.

Buddha Dordenma Statue, Thimphu - Bhutan_ 20 top places to visit in Bhutan
Buddha Dordenma Statue, Thimphu - Bhutan_ 20 top places to visit in Bhutan

3. Punakha Dzong, Punakha

Punakha Dzong is an impressive fortress built on a small island at the confluence of two rivers - Po Chhu and Mo Chhu flowing through the Punakha valley. The magnificent dzong hides behind the purple blooms of jacaranda trees. The dzong that was built in the 16th century by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal (The Beard Man), can be accessed by crossing a suspension bridge over the Mo Chhu river. It has three courtyards in total and houses important relics like Rangjung Kharsapani that was brought to Bhutan from Tibet by the Beard Man. The Last royal wedding of the 5th King of Bhutan took place at this majestic dzong. Read more about Punakha dzong and stories attached to it in our separate article on Punakha - Sightseeing places in the winter capital.

Punakha Dzong, Punakha - Bhutan_ 20 top places to visit in Bhutan
Punakha Dzong, Punakha - Bhutan_ 20 top places to visit in Bhutan

4. Phobjikha Valley, Phobjikha

Phobjikha valley is a vast bowl-shaped glacial valley located in Central Bhutan. It is also referred to as Gangtey valley. The valley is home to the rare species of black-necked cranes every winter. These birds migrate to Phobjikha valley from as far as Tibet. To protect the birds from being electrocuted by electric poles, the villagers of Phobjikha village have buried the transmission lines supplying electricity under the ground. No overhead electric lines can be seen in the entire valley. The valley is full of green pasture dotted with red rhododendrons and purple Lilac primulas. It has multiple trekking trails that are still untouched by excessive tourism. Read more about Phobjikha valley, black-necked cranes and the Phobjikha village in our separate article on Phobjikha - Valley of black-necked cranes.

Phobjikha Valley, Phobjikha - Bhutan_ 20 top places to visit in Bhutan
Phobjikha Valley, Phobjikha - Bhutan_ 20 top places to visit in Bhutan

5. Rinpung Dzong, Paro

Popularly known as Paro Dzong, Rinpung Dzong is located on a small hill overlooking the Paro valley. It houses the government and monastic bodies of Paro district. The dzong is situated beside the Paro Chhu river and can be accessed after crossing a cantilevered wooden bridge on the river. Rinpung Dzong houses the finest examples of Bhutanese art. Every year, an annual festival is held at the dzong called as the Paro Tsechu. It is a grand celebration that involves masked dances and local folk songs. Read more about Rinpung Dzong in our separate article on Places to visit in Paro.

Rinpung Dzong, Paro - Bhutan_ 20 top places to visit in Bhutan
Rinpung Dzong, Paro - Bhutan_ 20 top places to visit in Bhutan

6. Bhutan Postal Museum, Thimphu

Bhutan Postal Museum is one of the most unique museums in the world. One can get personalised postage stamps printed here. The postage stamps can be printed with one's own photograph and then postcards can be shared by using those stamps to one's family and relatives; just the old-fashioned way! It is an absolute pleasure to put the postcards in the red coloured post box. Read more about Bhutan Postal Museum and its entrance charges in our separate article on Places to visit in Thimphu.

Bhutan Postal Museum, Thimphu - Bhutan_ 20 top places to visit in Bhutan
Bhutan Postal Museum, Thimphu - Bhutan_ 20 top places to visit in Bhutan

7. Chimi Lhakhang, Punakha

Offering prayers at Chimi Lhakhang, also known as the Fertility temple, is believed to induce fertility to couples who wish for a child. The temple houses a big statue of the Beard man and 10001-armed Lord Avalokiteshwara. Chimi Lhakhang safeguards an original wooden effigy of the Divine Madman's thunderbolt that he used to subdue the demons. The effigy is in the shape of a phallus. It is said that phallus brings good luck and prosperity. Wooden phalluses are even sold outside the temple. Read more about Chimi Lhakhang and stories related to it in our separate article on Punakha - Sightseeing places in the winter capital.

Chimi Lhakhang, Punakha - Bhutan_ 20 top places to visit in Bhutan
Chimi Lhakhang, Punakha - Bhutan_ 20 top places to visit in Bhutan

8. Gangtey Monastery, Phobjikha

Gangtey Monastery is perched at the cliff of a hill overlooking the enormous Phobjikha valley. The monastery houses a central prayer hall surrounded by butter lamp house and monk quarters. It is said that when the rare black-necked cranes migrate to the valley during winter and when they leave the valley after 5 months, each crane encircles the Gangtey monastery three times in clockwise direction. The villagers of Phobjikha believe that these cranes are reincarnations of the former monks of the monastery. The monastery hosts a 'Crane festival' annually to welcome the arrival of