Bhutan things to see and do

Tourist offices

Bhutan Tourism Corporation Limited (BTCL)

PO Box 159, Thimpu, Bhutan
Tel: (2) 324 045 or 322 647.
www.kingdomofbhutan.com

Department of Tourism

PO Box 126, Thimpu, Bhutan
Tel: (2) 323 251/2.
www.tourism.gov.bt

Bhutan Tourism Corporation Limited (BTCL) in the USA

c/o Far Fung Places, 1914 Fell Street, San Francisco, United States
Tel: (415) 386 8306.
www.kingdomofbhutan.com

Things to see and do

Archery

Appreciate the skills of the Bhutanese in archery, Bhutan's national sport. Competitions are held frequently. These events usually prove fun and raucous, and alcohol flows freely.

Bird spotting

Spot some of Bhutan's 600-plus varieties of birds, including the rare black-necked cranes wintering in the Phobjikha and Bumdeling valleys.

Buddhist festivals

Get involved in one of Bhutan's numerous Buddhist festivals: a riot of masks, dancing and ritual which generally centre on Dzongs (fortresses) in cobbled courtyards. Monks recount Buddhist history and myths through religious or folk dances.

Cheli La

See the beautiful and forlorn Haa Valley, reached from Paro over the Cheli La, at 3,810m (12,500ft), the highest road pass in the country.

Drametse Goemba

Enjoy the spectacular views as you drive up the rough vertiginous side road to Drametse Goemba. This is not for the faint-hearted.

Drukgyel Dzong

Explore Paro with its imposing dzong and traditional covered bridge then drive up the valley to the atmospheric ruins of Drukgyel Dzong which once protected Bhutan against Tibetan invasions. By clear weather, you might see Jhomolhari, the second highest summit.

Handicraft Emporium

Browse the Handicraft Emporium in Thimpu, which displays a wide assortment of unique souvenirs such as beautifully hand-woven and crafted products.

La Pass

Enjoy the breathtaking panorama over the eastern Himalayan chain from the Dochu La Pass at 3,100m (10,170ft).

National Museum of Bhutan in Paro

Visit the National Library in Thimphu to gaze at holy books and scriptures and the National Museum of Bhutan in Paro, located in the Watchtower, where weapons, antiques, mammals and Bhutanese artefacts are all on display.

Painting School

Visit the Institute of 13 Arts and Crafts in Tashi Yangtse (Eastern Bhutan) or the Painting School in Thimphu where young artists and craftsmen hone their skills.

Punakha valley

Delight in the temperate Punakha valley, which contains many sacred temples, including Punakha Dzong. Straddling the confluence of the Mo and Pho Rivers, the Dzong was built by the founder of the kingdom, Ngawang Namgyal.

Taktsang (Tiger's Nest) Goemba

Trek up to Taktsang (Tiger's Nest) Goemba, Bhutan's most revered monastery. It clings dizzily to the face of a 900m (2,952ft) precipice in the Paro Valley. According to legend, Guru Rinpoche flew to this site on a tiger and meditated in a cave for three months.

Tashi Yangtse

See the remote valleys of Eastern Bhutan where women spin and weave on the doorsteps. Most idyllic is Tashi Yangtse where rice paddies cling to the slopes above a gleaming riverside chorten (religious monument).

Tashichho Dzong in Thimphu

See Tashichho Dzong in Thimphu, the country's main administrative and religious centre. It houses the government ministries, Throne Room of the King and the country's largest monastery, the summer headquarters of the Je Khempo and 1,600 of his monks.

Tongsa Dzong in central Bhutan

Do not miss Tongsa Dzong in central Bhutan, the ancestral home of the Royal family which commands a superb view of the valley, then explore the holy sites of Bumthang, the country's cultural and religious heartlands.

Trekking

Get back to nature by trekking around the valleys and the mountain gorges. The scenery is simply breathtaking. The high altitude Snowman Trek (25 days) is arduous but in Bumthang, travellers can join four to seven day cultural tours through the villages. • Mountain bike along the Paro Valley for an exhilarating experience. Bicycles can be hired in Thimpu and trails are suitable for a range of abilities.

Wangdiphodrang

Explore the district of Wangdiphodrang, known for its slate carving and bamboo weaving. The Wangdiphodrang Dzong stands at the confluence of two rivers and, for many centuries, was the seat of one of Bhutan's most powerful Dzongpons.

Wangshu River

Take in the bird's eye view of Thimphu from the Telecom Tower hill. The capital spreads in a fertile valley traversed by the Wangshu River, at around 2,400m (7,900ft).

Edited by Jane Duru
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