Bhutan, a land of breathtaking natural beauty and ancient Buddhist culture reopened to tourists for the first time since the pandemic on September 23rd, 2022. Following the devastating pandemic that began more than two and a half years ago, the tiny Himalayan country is attempting to resurrect its economy.
A trip to Bhutan is an exciting adventure that invariably includes breathtaking Himalayan views, diverse national parks, and great religious and historical sites.
So, if you want to have a truly authentic Bhutanese experience, Norbu Bhutan has compiled a list of must-try experiences in Bhutan.
1. Pose Wearing Traditional Bhutanese Attire
Bhutanese citizens are required to dress traditionally when visiting sacred sites and government offices. Men wear a heavy knee-length robe called gho, and women wear a long dress called Kira.
Bhutanese people are proud of their national garb and you will notice locals dressed in traditional attires in the street. These colorful Bhutanese traditional attire are a visual delight during Bhutanese festivals like Tsechus where they are dressed to impress.
You can buy a pair of gho or Kira as a souvenir while you visit famous places in Bhutan. Wearing traditional Bhutanese attire at the festival is a wonderful way to honor the wonderful Bhutanese culture and blend in with the locals!
You can purchase traditional clothing from handicrafts and traditional apparel shops. A hand-woven dress is high quality and will cost more than a machine-made one.
2. Shop At Handicrafts
Shopping at handicrafts has become one of the most popular activities for travelers visiting Bhutan. You can also take it as a souvenir!
Popular Bhutanese crafts include textiles, paintings, wood carvings, and paper products. These handicrafts are part of the Bhutanese community’s cultural heritage.
So, be sure to explore various national handicraft emporiums while visiting the best places in Bhutan and learning about the interesting tales behind them.
Location: National Handicraft Emporium (Thimphu) and Chencho Handicraft & Weaving Center (Paro).
Travel information: Don’t buy antique crafts because you are not allowed to take antiques abroad.
3. Try The Country’s Sport: Archery
Attending an archery competition is one of the best ways to learn about Bhutanese national sport that brings communities together.
Bhutan’s archery is still evolving as a result of people’s efforts to master the art with their skills. This is a fascinating look at their culture as women cheer on the sidelines and men put their archery skills to the test.
You can take archery classes in Thimphu and Paro while you visit the best places in Bhutan. Or you can ask the locals if you can give archery a shot! Bhutanese people are very welcoming and will gladly let you partake in their daily activities!
4. Trekkers Paradise
Bhutan is home to some of the most beautiful treks in the world. The best months for hiking are March to May, September, and October. There are trekking trails for every skill level, from easy to difficult.
Here are the top 3 treks you must experience:
- Druk Path Trek — 4–6 Days
The Druk path trek offers a remote mountain view for hiking and includes Mount Gangkar Puensum, Bhutan’s highest mountain. The trail passes through pine and azalea forests, villages, and ancient dzongs. It’s a relatively easy hike with 3,500 meters (11,500 ft).
Travel information: March–June, and September–October are the best times for this trek.
- Jhomolhari Trek — 8 Days
The Jhomolhari trek, one of the most popular and moderate treks, provides breathtaking views of the Jhomolhari mountains. This trek will take you through picturesque scenery, such as pastoral alpine meadows and green valleys.
This long journey will take you through the 4,520-meter Tak-hung La Pass (14,830 ft), so dress appropriately.
Location: Drukgyel in Paro
Travel information: April–May, and September–November are the best times for this trek.
- The Snowman Trek
The snowman trek is “the toughest trek in the world.” On this trail, you will pass through valleys, azalea forests, pastures, orchards, and alpine meadows.
You will encounter impressive waterfalls and lakes, blue sheep, yaks, and griffins in their natural habitat during the snowman trek.
Travel information: September and October are the best time for this trek.
5. Experience Festivals Throughout the Year
Festivals in Bhutan are renowned for their luxury, vitality, and happiness. Most of these festivals honor Guru Rimpoche, the revered figure who brought Buddhism to Bhutan.
Bhutanese people celebrate festivals through mysterious and vibrant mask dances and thangka paintings that share Buddhist teachings.
The Bhutanese people value dance and music as important local cultures. Mask dances known as Chhams are commonly performed by monks during Tshechu festivals.
Mask dances convey religious teachings to the audience. It is believed that by worshiping their deities throughout the performance, they ward off ills and disasters.
Mask dances conducted in Dzongs are important for uniting people and teaching them about their area, culture, and history.
Thangkas are Buddhist paintings of cotton or silk that play an important part in Buddhism.
The term “thangka” means “folded up,” and it derives from the fact that they are only used on rare occasions such as weddings or significant Buddhist festivals.
Make sure your travel dates coincide with these enjoyable festivals since there are celebrations of at least one festival every month in this country.
6. No Traffic Lights
Bhutan is one of the only 2 capitals in the world with no traffic lights. When traveling in Bhutan, pay attention to gestures made by traffic police.
One of the reasons Bhutanese people were opposed to installing traffic lights in the capital was to preserve traditional aesthetics over machine-run traffic lights.
So it is not a surprise to learn that most visitors find traffic police fascinating. Taking pictures of white-gloved traffic policemen has become a popular activity for visitors in Bhutan.
7. National Memorial Chorten
This massive Memorial Chorten is one of Thimphu’s most recognizable landmarks.
This Chorten was built in 1974 to commemorate Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, the third king of Bhutan, also known as the father of Modern Bhutan.
While visiting famous places in Bhutan like the Memorial Chorten, you will notice locals and visitors alike making rounds (kora) all day long as they pray.
The Memorial Chorten reflects the Buddha’s mind and locals believe that praying at this holy site will make your wish come true. Make a wish and try your luck; who knows, your wish might be granted if old wives’ tales are to be believed!
Location: Southern-central part of Thimphu
Travel information: The kora lasts into the evening, and closes at 8 PM.
8. Centenary Farmers Market
Centenary Farmers Market, also known as the weekend market or Sunday market, is one of the places to visit in Bhutan.
Agriculture employs up to 80% of the local population and remains the primary source of income for most people in Bhutan.
As a result, farmers across the country market their products over the weekend at the Centenary Farmers Market, a practice that has evolved into a viable trade.
You’ll find variety of fresh vegetables, fruits, meat (mostly dried), dairy, and other local organic products as you walk around the market.
Apart from all the buying and selling, these markets present a great opportunity to interact with the locals. It is one of the best ways to gain insight into the traditional Bhutanese diet.
Location: central Thimphu
Travel information: This market is open only on weekends.
Bhutanese culture intrigues everyone who encounters it. The government’s commitment to preserving and advancing cultural values is much better, as is the people’s.
This is why its spirit can still be found in every nook and corner of the country. Festivals, architecture, food, and traditional dress are all important aspects of Bhutanese culture.
Get ready to immerse yourself in Bhutan’s rich cultural tradition, where visitors are greeted and welcomed with genuine hospitality and friendly smiles with us. With Norbu Bhutan Travels, a world of new experiences awaits you in this land of mysteries!
Before planning your Bhutan trip, keep up to date on the latest travel information with us.
What’s holding you back? Contact Norbu Bhutan Travels for one-stop-shop tourism in Bhutan!
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