The Himalayan Buddhist Kingdom of Bhutan is a destination like no other. Due to a long period of isolation, the heritage of the kingdom is well preserved.

If it’s true authenticity that you’re after, then Bhutan is for you!

During your trip, you’ll be able to admire fairy-tale scenery, relish incredible architecture, and breathe the fresh mountain air. 

Besides acquiring knowledge, you will have fun when practicing archery, exploring mountains and valleys, and taking spectacular photos. 

In the following, you will find the top six things every first-time visitor should do during the Bhutan tour.

Hike to Tiger’s Nest Monastery in Paro

Paro Taktsang is a must-see spot during a Bhutan visit. Also known as the Tiger’s Nest, this fully operating monastery is found in quite an unusual location.

Once you reach the monastery, you will be standing on the mountainside some 900 meters above sea level. 

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So, prepare your hiking gear and boost your shape to get to Paro Taktsang. Speaking of the required time, around six hours should be enough for the entire tour. Bhutan number one spot is accessible via a dirt path, revealing stunning views of the forested mountains and green valley along the way. 

For the highest chance of clear weather during your mountain hike, make your visit from October to December. As for the best photos of the Tiger’s Nest, aim to be there around midday.

Explore Thimphu Valley

If you grew fond of hiking during the Tiger’s Nest visit, your next destination should be Thimphu Valley

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Tashichho Dzong is a multicoloured complex on the outskirts of Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. Once you lay eyes on it, you will wonder whether it is a monastery or a fortress. And rightly so since the official royal residence is kind of both. 

Within the city limits, you will find the Memorial Chorten, a stupa honouring one of the kings. You won’t have trouble locating the Thimphu Chorten since it is among the most dominant structures in the city. 

In Takin Preserve, near the city, you can see takin, the national animal of the Bhutan Kingdom. Make sure to arrive early, and they will wait for you by the fence to accept food.

Visit Punakha Dzong

The next stop of your Bhutan tour should be Punakha Dzong. Has Tashichho Dzong delighted you? Wait until you see this one.

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Considered the most beautiful dzong (fortified complex, as you have probably guessed by now), Punakha is also the second oldest and the second largest. Aside from observing its beauty, you may find yourself wondering what keeps Punakha Dzong together since builders didn’t use a single nail. 

Being about 180 meters long and 70 meters wide, the dzong has a multi-story tower. Surrounded by two rivers (Pho Chhu – male – and Mo Chhu – female), you can access Punakha via a stylish bridge.

Enjoy the Great View of the Himalayas at Dochula Pass

Dochula Pass is, along Tiger’s Nest and Punakha Dzong, the third must-see attraction during the first-time visit to Bhutan. You will find the mountain pass on the route from Thimphu to Punakha. 

Featuring over a hundred chortens, Dochula Pass is a spiritual place, revealing a lot about the Bhutanese culture. 

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However, it is views of the mighty Himalayas that will take your breath away. On a clear day, you can see several imposing peaks covered in snow from there. It should certainly be one of the top experiences of your Bhutan tour.

Spend a Night for Homestay

While enjoying your Bhutan visit, spending a night at homestay accommodation will allow you to benefit from local customs. 

A stone bath is one of the unmissable activities of the Bhutan tour. Bathing in river water heated by hot stones will rejuvenate and relax you. 

Dining with the Bhutanese locals is another highlight of the trip to the Himalayan kingdom. Ema Datshi and Puta are some top national specialities you should have.

Once you taste these and other local dishes, you will be eager to learn to prepare Bhutanese meals yourself. Your friendly locals will be glad to help you with that.

Try Traditional Bhutanese Archery

The Bhutanese heavily depended on archery in the past. Today, they depend on it nothing less, they just changed the need for fun. So, it isn’t surprising that archery is their national sport.

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Therefore, make sure to try practising Bhutanese archery during your Bhutan visit. Figuring it out tends to require time, so be patient.

As you’ve seen, a Bhutan tour is a journey through nature, rich legacy, enlightenment, and fun. If grand architecture, pristine nature, local traditions, or scenic views are among your interests, the Buddhist kingdom is an ideal destination for you. 

However, a visit to Bhutan offers much more. Since the Himalayan nation opened itself to travellers only recently, small wonder that visitors consider it an exotic, undiscovered treasure chest.

Richard Collett