Located in the eastern Himalayas, Bhutan is a beautiful country that’s known for its beautiful valleys, high mountains, monasteries, and delicious food. If you’re looking for an off-beat getaway, you should consider travelling to Bhutan to soak in its beauty and culture. And, in case you don’t know where and how to get started on a Bhutan Tour, here are a couple of things you should really do in Bhutan
Visit Tiger’s Nest Monastery in Paro Valley
Situated 900 metres above the Paro Valley, Taktsang Lhakhang aka Tiger’s Nest Monastery is a cultural icon and the pride of Bhutan. Comprising of four temples and residences for monks, it attracts tourists all the year-round. To reach the monastery, you will have to trek up a steep and rocky road, but the effort will be worth it. Not only will you be able to take many Instagram-worthy pictures, but you will also be able to spend a few minutes meditating and basking in the beauty of the place.
Enjoy the Tshechu festival
Usually held during the autumn season, Tshechu is one of the most important festivals of Bhutan. Also known as the Mask Dance Festival, it’s held across monasteries and dzongs of Bhutan amidst much fun-fare that includes music and dance. It’s held in honour of Guru Rinpoche who was instrumental in bringing Tantric Buddhism to Bhutan. For Bhutanese people Tshechu is a time to celebrate with their friends and family, strengthen bonds, receive blessings, and purify themselves. If you want to get a glimpse of the local culture, plan your trip to Bhutan in and around the festival time.
Take a trip to Sopsokha: A village that worships phallus
If you aren’t the kind to be easily shocked, then you must pay a visit to the tiny village of Sopsokha, which is located in the Punakha region of Bhutan. Almost all the houses and buildings have giant phalluses painted on them. While some are unadorned, others have ribbons and other decorative stuff around them. It’s believed that Drukpa Kunley, a popular saint in Bhutan, referred to his penis as ‘the divine thunderbolt’. That’s how this Bhutanese village came to worship the penis. The local folk believe that the phallus protects them from malicious gossip. If you visit the village, remember to buy some souvenirs and keepsakes.
For those of you who love hiking and spending some time in nature, you’ll find ample trekking opportunities in Bhutan. You can choose from simple treks through beautiful rhododendron forests to longer ones that take you throughout the country, there’s something for everyone here. However, the country’s most popular trek is The Jomolhari Trek and takes you through the Jigme Dorji National Park. Bumthang Cultural Trek, on the other hand, takes you on a trip of temples, monasteries, and traditional villages. Depending on your personal preferences and fitness, you can choose a trek that appeals to your sensibilities.
Immerse yourself in the local culture
Bhutan is known to have a high happiness index. Perhaps it’s due to the fact that the country still retains its beautiful landscape and focuses on a good quality of life. While there, you should take some time out to just walk around the town you’re living in and mingling with the local culture. This way, you will not just be able to understand the lives of Bhutanese people, but you will also come away with a different perspective about life and its many intricacies.
Offer your prayers at Buddha Dordenma
Sitting atop gilded meditation hall on a hill in Thimphu (the capital and the largest city of Bhutan) is a massive, golden statue of Buddha. The 51 metres tall statue was built to bring prosperity to the nation. When you look at the statue, you’d think you are looking at a single statue. However, you are actually seeing 1,25,000 statues that are encapsulated inside the chest of the statue. Isn’t that intriguing? If you feel the need to disconnect from the world and spend some time with yourself, you should meditate in the hall and spend some time in the vicinity. The best part: the view from there is breathtaking.
Apart from these, you should also try squeezing in some time for shopping at the local markets. The country is famous for its range of handicrafts, textiles, wooden products, cane and bamboo items, Himalayan beads, and handmade jewellery. And once you’re done, choose a quaint little cafe to unwind and taste some local delicacies. If you’re lucky, you might even come across live performances by local musicians and artists.