Bhutan rests on the Eastern Himalayan slopes, it is the Land of Thunder Dragon which is a landlocked country bordered by India and Tibet. Bhutan entertains the policy of captivating high-value low impact tourism in the country hence making it a unique high-end destination for adventure seekers.
Bhutan enjoys the prestige of being the world’s first carbon-negative country as t started the implementation of conservation and eco-friendly practices before other started with this trend. Technology like Television and internet was introduced only in 1999. Among the banned things in Bhutan are plastic bags and cigarettes. To counter the negative effects of tourism, Bhutan constitution has stated that 60% of the area should stay forested at all times. Making, Bhutan a lush, green and gorgeous nation. Bhutanese people hold their nation’s beauty and environment close to their hearts. They prioritize living in harmony with the nature and believe the exposure from the outside world will only have negative impact. So they enjoy and prize their isolation.
Tourist attraction for Bhutan is their uniqueness and their authenticity to their beliefs, the friendly and open-hearted people who make generous hosts. And the fact they integrate their history, tradition and culture into daily routines.
Following are the top 7 things one should do when traveling to Bhutan:
Hike up to Tiger’s Nest
The image of The Tiger’s Nest Monastery- Paro Takstang is the most associate image with the country because it is one of the most iconic landmarks of Bhutan. At the side of a steep cliff wall in the Paro Valley, the monastery is located as the legend has it was chosen by the tigress who brought Guru Rinpoche- an essential figure in the Buddhist religion to the to conquer a local demon. The hike up to the monastery is a steep two hours hike and there are several cafes along the hike for the hikers to take some rest and enjoy the tea and these cafes provide with the wonderful view of the monastery on the way up. You can take the horses available for the tourists but that involves walking as well so it is highly advisable for the tourists to wear comfortable shoes.
Visit the Temple of the Divine Madman
This temple blesses the childless couple in the head by a wooden penis in the hope they can bear children and become fertile. The Divine Madman refers to a monk named Drupa Kunley who used to ‘bless’ women with sex. His methods included that you can be enlightened while experiencing the earthly pleasures. This led to phallic images being painted onto houses, hung outside the doorways or even place at dinner tables. These images are thought to ward off evil energies and sprits are devoted intensely. Interesting fact: Drupa Kunley’s penis is referred to as the “Thunderbolt of Flaming Wisdom”!
Experience a Homestay
As aforementioned people of Bhutan are generous hosts and very friendly, so experiencing the culture by staying serves as an amazing life time experience for tourists. They serve their local traditional food, with comfortable and cozy living situations and especially prepare their traditional hot bath in the outhouse with wooden bath from the stream water that they claim has medicinal properties. They heat the stream water with stones that have previously been thrown in the fire.
See the Takin
You hear about Takin when you reach Bhutan. It is the national animal of Bhutan, found in the forest alleys. The tourists can however see plenty of then at the Motithang Takin Preserve in Thimpu. It was initially a zoo until the fourth king of Bhutan decided that captivating animals was against the Bhutan’s environmental principles. After this decision all the takin were set free. The animals were loyal to the the land of Thimpu and started roaming around in the city, searching the streets for food. This problem had to be solved by enclosing them again with friendly measures and now they look content and well-fed and taken care of as they spend most of their day being lazy in the facility.
Attend a Traditional Festival
The festivals in Bhutan represent the country in its vibrancy, colors and mystical legends. Tshechu- religious festivals are celebrated with locals gathered to watch masked dancers and singer’s performance while they socialize with others all over the country. The plays are held with plot revolving around the drama which depicts both good and evil and it greatly enjoyed by the locals. It shows a particular story or event which locals find immensely intriguing. And to local’s delight they can even participate in the plays.
Visit the Punakha Dzong
Dzongs are the religious and administrative centers of Bhutanese communities and are famous for their structure. They fort-monasteries found all over Bhutan. Among these Dzongs, Punakha Dzong is considered the most beautiful dzong ever. It is also known as the “Palace of Great Happiness”. What makes this dzong the most picturesque structure in the entire country is the fact that it stands where the two rivers, Po chhu and Mo chhu converge. Punakha Dzong consists of detailed Buddhist symbols and murals depicting the life of Buddha. The tourists can raft on the river as well.
Watch (or learn) Archery
The national sport of Bhutan is archery is practiced by the locals everywhere in the country. This activity is taken seriously by Bhutanese people as they play this sport from local tournaments between the friends to national competitions. The game follows the ritual of making fun of the opposing team members in attempt to distract and confuse them and the same team members are cheered and hyped up in order to boost their confidence and game. When the tourists understand this ritual the spectacle proves to be great source of entertainment and fun.
These are the 7 things one must do when visiting the most gorgeous, lush, green and rich country of Bhutan. These activities etch an experience in the minds of the tourists that stays with them forever.