bhutan

This country is a surprise mix of traditional Buddhist culture and modern developments. It is the last Himalayan kingdom enveloped in intense mystery. Bhutan is a tiny kingdom nestled between its neighbours China and India. The Bhutanese name for Bhutan, Druk Yul, means "Land of the Thunder Dragon". Bhutan offers unique architectural marvels, tsechuas (dance forms), cuisines, textiles, handicrafts, trekking trails, and archery competitions all under its umbrella. What more can a traveller need?

Bhutan is carbon neutral and includes an exquisite collection of flora and fauna, making it a picture perfect destination.

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Seasons
Monsoon
Summer
winter
Cuisine
Pork & Rice
Butter Tea
Ema Dachi
Languages
Nepali
English
Dzonkha
Getting There
By Air

Paro International Airport is the only entry point to Bhutan by air. It is located in the southwest of the country.

By Rail

There is no rail transport in Bhutan. The nearest options (both in India) are Hasimara, New Jalpaiguri Station (NJP), and New Alipurduar railway station.

By Bus

There are three land border crossings located along the southern border to India only; Phuntsholing, Gelephu, and Samdrup Jongkhar.

Getting Around
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Indians don't require a visa to enter Bhutan and are given a 7-day entry-cum-stay permit at the immigration offices upon presentation of a passport or government-issued ID such as a voter's registration card. This permit allows travel only within Phuentsholing, Thimphu, and Paro and can be extended at the immigration office in Thimphu for successive periods of three weeks each. Bring at least one passport photo. One can also request a route permit here to travel beyond the three above-mentioned towns.

The roads that cross the country are characterized by their twists, turns, and steep inclines, but despite the difficult topography, they are generally very well-maintained and safe. You can avail the bus services or hire a taxi to explore Bhutan. It is recommended that you drive in Bhutan only if you have experience driving in mountainous regions.

Top Activities
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Trekking

SAMTENGANG WINTER TREK: Starting from Punakha, the Samtengang Winter Trek is a short and considerably simple and easy trek to Wangdue Phodrang Dzongkhag, with average altitude rising not more than 1900 meters. The climate is excellent and due to low altitude, preserves warmer climate that is pleasant and soothing. Best time to visit is Mar-Apr and Sep-Nov.

Grade: Easy

BUMTHANG OWL TREK : To enjoy unspoiled natural beauty and pictorial scenic vistas in Bhutan, one of the best options is to set out for the short yet fascinating Bumthang Owl trek. The trek starts from Manchung, makes its way through Dhur village, Drangela Pass, and finally ends at Tharpaling monastery. On the trekking trail, one can enjoy unlimited and undisturbed scenery with dense forests. Best time to visit is Nov-Dec.

Grade: Moderate

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Biking

There is no better way to experience a place than by bike. Bhutan's expansive wilderness, small sleepy cities, rural farmland, tiny roads, majestic views, and everything else are that much sweeter on a bike. Biking isn't easy though. Being in the Himalayas, it requires long climbs at higher altitudes than most travellers are accustomed to, followed by long descents down roads rarely wide enough for two cars. 

Places: Pangrizampa Lhakhang 

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Paragliding

Take a Bhutan paragliding trip and you’ll be flying over one of the world’s most mysterious corners. Tucked up high in the Himalayas, it is a place very few travellers make it to. Join them and you’ll get to see breathtaking mountain peaks and valleys and enjoy a culture rich in myth, legend, and warmth. A Bhutan paragliding trip is certainly one to remember.

Places: Phobjika Valley, Gangtey Village.

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Wildlife

JIGME DORJI NATIONAL PARK: This is Bhutan's largest sanctuary.  It is named after the third King of Bhutan, who is often referred to as the Father of modern Bhutan. Diverse species of flora and fauna flourish in this wildlife sanctuary.

BOMDELING WILDLIFE SANCTUARY: It is situated in Trashi Yangtse district that lies in the northwestern region of Bhutan. It also covers parts of Lhuentshe and Mongar districts. The sanctuary touches the Tibetan region of China in the north and India in the northeast.

Top Experiences
JAMBAY LHAKHANG - MARCH

Jambay Lhakhang is one of the most famous temples of Bumthang. Jambay is the oldest temple in the Kingdom and was built by the 7th century king Songsten Gampo on the same day as 107 other temples.  

PUNAKHA DRUBCHEN - MARCH

A festival enacting the glorious war and the subsequent victory of Zhabdrung Namgyel against Tibetan armies is still celebrated in Punakha. Warrior dances revolving around the battle are displayed at the festival. 

PUNAKHA TSHECHU - MARCH

This is one of the most famous festivals of Bhutan, and it happens right after Punakha Drubchen. The rolling out of the Throngdol of Guru Rinpoche is the central attraction of the festival besides the many colorful masked dances. 

JOMOLHARI MOUNTAIN FESTIVAL - OCTOBER

Jomolhari Mountain Festival is a beautiful 2-day celebration held at the base of Mount Jomolhari. The festival is inspired from the different communities peacefully co-existing with nature and animals. The festival activities comprise trekking, photography, and nature sensitization.

THE ANNUAL BLACK NECKED CRANE FESTIVAL - NOVEMBER

The black-necked crane festival is held every year. This is again an ecology-oriented festival held for sensitizing and strengthening efforts for conserving this species of birds. Cultural programs, folk dance, and masked dances along with music are a part of the festival, where school children are active participants. 

MONGAR TSHECHU - NOVEMBER

Mongar lies in East Bhutan and is quite well known for its exquisite wooden carvings. In November, the Mongar Thechu festival is held for 3 days with much fanfare. The highlights of the festival are songs, dances, and masked parades that are unique to this region.

GASA TSHECHU - APRIL

The largest festival dominating the quiet little district of Gasa in Northwest Bhutan, there is much to look forward to during Gasa Tshechu. The venue is the Gasa Dzong.

MERAK TSHECHU - AUGUST

The Eastern Bhutan Merak Valley lies inside the Trashigang Dzongkhang (altitude 3000 meters). If cultural immersion is one of your interests, then this festival will surely appeal to you. 

MATSUTAKE FESTIVAL - AUGUST

This festival is scheduled during the 4th weekend of August and takes place in the beautiful Ura valley. At the festival, visitors will learn to identify fabled mushrooms as they embark on mushroom picking excursions around the pristine forests and hills. They’ll be able to sample delicious matsutake recipes, engage in songs and dances together with the locals, hike through the stunning Himalayan landscape, relax in traditional open-air mineral baths, and also learn to cook mushroom recipes. 

Health & Safety

Tip 1

 It is a carbon-negative country; the air is absolutely pollution free. 

Tip 2 

People in Bhutan are the happiest and one of the best you will come across. Be sure to get all the help and guidance whenever needed. Roam around freely without any worries!

Tip 3

Products containing tobacco (cigarettes, chewing tobacco, etc) are banned throughout Bhutan (it remains the only country in the world to do so), and penalties for possession or use may be severe. 

Shopping

Place 1 (Thimpu, Paro)

Bhutanese handwoven fabric is prized around the world and is available in the form of clothing, wall hangings, table mats, and rugs.

Place 2 (Jakar Area) Yathra

A brightly coloured woven material made from wool and dyed with natural colours, yathra is sold in pieces or sewn into jackets, bags, rugs, and wall hangings. Yathra is available in Thimphu and other cold areas but is a specialty of the Jakar area.

Place 3 (Tashi Yangtse) Dappa

Handmade wooden bowls, Dappa, are a specialty of the Trashi Yangtse region but can be purchased throughout the country.

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