Located in the eastern slopes of Himalayans, Bhutan, the Land of the Thunder, is a landlocked nation bordered by India and Tibet. The country’s charm lies in its authenticity and uniqueness, the warmth and good nature of its people and most of all in the exploration of a nation where tradition, history, and culture are still a part of daily lives. Here are 7 great activities to do in Bhutan to make your trip an unforgettable one.
Hike to the Tiger’s Nest Monastery
Tiger’s Nest Monastery, also known as Paro Takstang, is one of the most famous and iconic landmarks of Bhutan. Magnificently built monastery on top of a high cliff wall in Paro Valley, its image is probably the one most associated with the country. The monastery is a steep two hours hike which grants you with the wonderful view of the majestic hills and dense forests. Alternatively, you can hire a horse to take you uphill.
It might come as a surprise to you but being hit on the head by a wooden penis is a form of blessing in Bhutan. ChimiLakhang, also known as the Temple of Divine Madman, is a pilgrimage site for childless couples who are blessed in the temple in hope of becoming fertile. In Sopsokha village of Punahka region, where the temple is situated, almost every building is adorned with a giant phallus.
Dance along with monks at Teschu festival
Ask anyone in Bhutan what the highlight of their year is and they’ll tell you it’s the tshechu, a big social gathering held on the tenth day of any given Tibetan lunar month. The highlight of the festival is the Cham dance, where monks wear fearsome masks and intricate costumes and perform spirited dance to traditional music. Each dance has a moral note to it, specifically with regards to showing empathy for sentient beings, and is also considered a form of meditation.
Trek to the mountains
Nestled with some of the world’s tallest mountains, and sans the crowd of trekkers who normally visit Nepal, the landlocked country is a gold standard for trekking. Ranging from mild treks passing through rhododendron forests to strenuous, 25-day trek that encompasses half the country, Bhutan offers a route for trekkers of all levels.
Visit Punakha Dzong
Built in the 17th century, Punakha Dzong is one of the most beautiful fort-monasteries of Bhutan. Also known as Palace of Great Happiness, it is built at the meeting point of rivers Po Chhu and Mo Chhu and is undoubtedly the most picturesque landmark of the country. In addition to marvel at the beautiful wall paintings and murals depicting Buddha’s life, you can also go rafting in two rivers mentioned above.
Archery is Bhutan’s national sport and is practiced everywhere throughout the country. From friendly local matches to national level competitions, it is taken rather seriously. The members from opposing team make fun of each archer so as to confuse the participant while the members from same team celebrate the successful shots. You can witness one of these fun-filled event or even participate yourself!
Experience a homestay
One of the most enjoyable experiences in Bhutan will be spending some time with a local family on their farm. Indulging in traditional delicacies and interacting with the locals is the best method to get under the skin of the beautiful nation. Moreover, it will give you a new perspective on how a simple and minimalistic lifestyle will give you more contentment and peace of mind.