Tigers Nest Monastery In Bhutan Istock 506325524
Tigers Nest Monastery In Bhutan Istock 506325524

Top 10 Bhutan Activities

What To Do In Bhutan?
Layers upon layers of sweeping mountain ranges, snowy peaks, enchanting hilltop monasteries and imposing forts are the tangible sights found in a country where authenticity pervades everything from clothes, to architecture, to food, to their beautifully-conserved natural spaces. A fortress-like insistence on maintaining their cultural heritage despite the pressures of the modern world makes Bhutan a fascinating place where happiness and serenity are top of the communal agenda. With tight controls on visitor numbers, this is also a place where you won’t feel part of a tourist conveyor belt.

We’ve compiled a list of our favourite Bhutan experiences to inspire your imagination.
  • The Tiger’s Nest (Paro Taktsang)
  • Explore the Incredible Dzongs
  • Dagala Trekking
  • The Birds of Gangtey
  • Festivals and Culture
  • Dordenma Buddha
  • Develop the Aim of the Archer
  • Punakha Valley on Two Wheels
  • Take to the Waters
  • Sample the Flavours of Bhutan
Tigers Nest Bhutan Ss By Ultramansk
1. The Tiger’s Nest (Paro Taktsang)
It’s a place where miracles are said to occur, such as mysterious flowers appearing in mid-air, and monks who can be in two locations at once: such things are said to have happened at the iconic and beautiful Paro Taktsang monastery complex. Its origins were magical too, for here it was that Guru Rinpoche, the founder of Vajrayana Buddhism, arrived on the back of a flying tiger demon.

His three-year meditation in the caves inspired the building of this Tiger’s Nest, perched perilously above the Paro Valley, now a hub of unparalleled religious importance in Bhutan. For the full experience of the Tiger’s Nest, come here during the annual tsechu: the courtyards will throng with devotees and the masked monks will be performing rituals to drive away evil.
Punakha Dzong Monastery Or Pungthang Dewachen Phodrang Palace Of Great Happiness Ss By Wantani Chantasilp
2. Explore the Incredible Dzongs
The very image and statement of this mountain nation’s desire to remain proudly independent, both geographically and culturally, is the Dzong. These architectural masterpieces are places of worship, governance and – most importantly – defence from Tibet in the north and India in the south. Built mostly during the 17th century, many by the addition of fortifications to existing Buddhist temples, dzongs are uniquely constructed without a single iron nail and are adorned with intricate art and Bhutanese woodwork.

Almost all dzongs contain a traditional painting known as the Four Friends – an elephant, monkey, rabbit and bird – which symbolises the nation’s cultural understanding of the essence of cooperation and interdependence.
Gangkhar Puensum Bhutan Istock 1209000380
3. Dagala Trekking
Let the valleys and forested mountain slopes transport you back in time as you walk through the centuries old trails forged by itinerant monks, merchants and goat herders. Upwards and above the treeline, you’ll be into the zone of high altitude shimmering glacial lakes and chorten-dotted ridges with stunning views of the greatest mountains of the Himalayas.

You’ll see Gangkar Puensum, the highest unclimbed mountain in the world, along with mighty Everest, and many more. Such are the delights offered to you on the 5-day Dagala Trek from Paro to Thimpu, which climbs to 4,300m. You’ll also have a chance to visit villages and see the cultivation of the famous Matsutake mushrooms.
Bllack Throated Sunbird Ss By Non15
4. The Birds of Gangtey
Thanks to a national culture of conservative separatism, Bhutan is a country of sanctuary and stability, which applies as much to wildlife as it does to people. For keen birders, this means that you have a chance to see many of the 670 species that pass through or make Bhutan their home, including the Imperial Heron, one of the 50 rarest birds in the world, and numerous others on the endangered list.

We would recommend timing your visit to coincide with the Black Necked Crane Festival in November as monks at Gangtey Gompa celebrate the birds’ arrival from its nesting sites in Tibet with folk songs and masked dance. For sightings of other fascinating species, including many hornbills, the forests around Tsirang are the place to go.
Istock 520686411 Tshechu Festival
5. Festivals and Culture
Perhaps unsurprisingly for a nation that prioritises what is known as Gross National Happiness, and has a culture that has remained largely untouched by outside influences, Bhutan is a place of numerous festivals. The Tshechu is the major monastic festival, taking place on the 10th day of the lunar month and celebrated in different months in different monasteries.

We recommend attending Pema Gatshel Tshechu, where masked monks will dance and bestow blessings that offer protection against evil influences. From the continued prevalence of traditional clothing, and the insistence on Bhutanese architecture, everything about life in this mountain nation is authentic and strikingly different to every other country you will encounter in your travels.
Buddha Dordenma Statue Overlooking Thimphu City Ss By Jesse 33
6. Dordenma Buddha
Sitting atop a gilded meditation hall, a massive and gloriously gilded bronze statue of Buddha holds sway over Thimphu, Bhutan’s capital. Constructed as recently as 2015 to celebrate the 60th birthday of Bhutan’s fourth king, the statue fulfils the prophecies of Guru Padmasambhava and yogi Sonam Sangpo.

Within the statue’s chest are 125,000 smaller statues of Buddha, which more than doubles the 100,000 population of Thimpu itself. During a visit to the statue and surrounding area called Buddha Point, you will sense the devotion of the Bhutanese people to their spiritual heritage and deep-rooted traditions.
Bhutan Punaka River Lodge Archery Darts
7. Develop the Aim of the Archer
Befitting a nation that wants to defend its cultures and traditions, the sporting obsession of the people is archery. Every village has an archery field, and no festival or celebration is complete without a competition or display of skill with bows and arrows, often firing their projectiles as far as 150m.

During a lesson, your guide will show you the necessary techniques and regale you with tales of the cultural significance of this most Bhutanese of traditions. You’ll also be introduced to their version of darts, another popular pastime with distinctive Bhutanese rules.
Bhutan Punaka River Lodge Cycling 2
8. Punakha Valley on Two Wheels
Immerse yourself in the many cultural and natural sights to be found in the sacred valley of Punakha whilst raising your pulse on two wheels. It’s a place where there are trails suitable for all cycling abilities as you tour the rice paddies, mud and stone houses and visit the magnificent Punakha Dzong: the second oldest monastery in Bhutan. From the Jacaranda-clad banks of the Mo and Pho Chu Rivers, the monastery rises six storeys above the city that was once Bhutan’s capital.

Known to be the warmest of the nation’s valleys, Punakha’s landscapes will reward you with spectacular Himalayan views, many serene monuments and a chance to see the last surviving populations of the critically endangered, white-bellied heron.
Istock 1030554818 Rafting In The Mo Chhu River
9. Take to the Waters
The steep rocky gradients of the world’s mightiest mountain range provide wonderful opportunities for white water rafting. In Bhutan, such an experience is complemented by the cultural significance of the two rivers that afford travellers the most varied rapids, for it is at the confluence of the Mo and Pho Chu Rivers that the glorious Punakha Dzong monastery was constructed. Families and the less-experienced rafters should opt for the class 2 rapids of the Mo Chu (mother river) whilst the Pho Chu (father river) has rapids up to class 4 for the more thrill-seeking adventurers.

All the while, you will have views of rugged rocky channels, churning and thundering water, and some tranquil stretches to contemplate the serene beauty of Bhutan.
Web Capture 17 6 2022 95743 Wwwsixsensescom
10. Sample the Flavours of Bhutan
It is often said that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication, and this seems to be true of Bhutanese cooking, which is a wonderfully rich, diverse and appetising experience despite the simplicity of ingredients and techniques. From the staples of red and white rice, cheese and chillies, an array of different dishes are created with the additions of matsutake mushrooms, ferns, orchids and wild asparagus. A particular favourite are Momos: tasty steamed dumplings served in a spicy sauce.

Any dish that includes “Datsi'' in its name will include the famous local fresh cheese, which forms a delicious sauce coating many of the nation’s favourite dishes. You’ll love learning from locals how to cook and enjoy Bhutanese food, and you’ll relish its abundance at a festival.
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Tigers Nest Monastery In Bhutan Istock 506325524
Tigers Nest Monastery In Bhutan Istock 506325524
Top 10 Bhutan Activities
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