A slice of a Himalayan kingdom, Bhutan is a land of mountains, monasteries and magic. With its fascinating culture, symmetrical architectures, lush greenery, unpretentious nature of the people, and the undying love for their king, Bhutan made me wonder about its own land. Bordering with India and China, this small country is one of the most captivating countries I have ever traveled to.
My epic road trip to Bhutan took me on a journey of a lifetime where I discovered Bhutan like never before. A country where you will not find a single traffic light except one in Thimphu, where rice is red and chilies aren’t just a seasoning, but it makes to the main dish, where every Bhutanese is protective about their religion and at the same time you will find phalluses painted on the walls of people’s home.
Also referred as The Last Shangri-La, you will be fairly surprised to see everyone wearing their national dress and photo frame of their King and Queen everywhere, from office to home. Bhutan has folded mystery in many layers. What hooked me completely in this Kingdom was not just the alluring landscapes, but people’s efforts to preserve their rich cultural heritage, to make their environment a carbon neutral and the philosophy of Gross National Happiness.
Let me take you on a visual journey to this Land of Thunder Dragon through these breathtaking pictures that captures the true essence of this land.
The charming town of Paro lies on the banks of the Paro Chhu River. The artistically crafted houses, breathtaking natural surroundings and the fertile rice fields, make this valley one of the most picturesque valleys in Bhutan. The country’s first international airport is also located in Paro.
One of the perfect examples of Bhutanese architecture is Paro Dzong. This prominent structure is one of the highlights of the valley. It was formerly the meeting hall for the National Assembly, but like other Dzong, it houses both the monastic body and district government offices, including a local court. A must visit place in the Paro Valley.
This is the bird’s eye view of the capital city of Thimphu. It embraces the small town feel as well as the modern and urban outlook. Thimphu offers a lot of tourist spots within the city.
Punakha Dzong is one of the majestic structures, located at the confluence of Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu River. It served as a capital from 1637 to 1907 and holds historical importance. This is the second oldest and second largest Dzong in the country and the most impressive one.
Bhutanese are known for their hand woven clothing, paintings and other artifacts. Especially women are very good in handicraft. The traditional dress for women, known as Kera, is made from finely woven fabric and worn everyday in Bhutan. Men wear the traditional dress known as Gho.
The Buddha Dordenma Statue is one of the most prominent landmarks of Thimphu. This massive statue of Shakyamuni measures in at a height of 51.5 meters and is one of the largest Buddha Statue in the world. This statue is located atop a hill in the Kuenselphodrang Nature Park.
The architectural style of Bhutan is one of the most celebrated cultural identities of this Himalayan kingdom. One can find the symmetrical structures all across the country. The intricate details and the exquisite Bhutanese paintings on the wall make it unique in the world.
You will meet those humble monks almost everywhere in Bhutan. I met this monk in Paro Dzong . It was drizzling at that time and I caught him in my lens while walking.
Tashichhoe Dzong is located on the bank of the Wangchhu River in Thimphu. Surrounded by manicured lawn and garden, this impressively massive structure houses the throne room and offices of the king, the secretariat and the ministries of home affairs and finance. Tashichhoe Dzong is only open for an hour, i.e., from 5.30 to 6.30 pm for visitors. This is one of the must see places in the capital.
Chelela Pass is considered to be the highest motorable pass in Bhutan. Located at an altitude of 3810 meters above sea level, Chelela pass separates Haa and Paro valley. The drive from Paro to Haa valley through this highest mountain pass gives you some breathtaking landscapes. The fluttering prayer flags here make it one of the captivating pits stop on your way to Haa Valley.
The wall art paintings are common sights in Bhutan. Every wall painting depicts the deep meaning of Buddhism. I captured this in the corridor of Paro Dzong.
Nestled on the westernmost edge of Bhutan, Haa Valley is one of the most picturesque valleys in the country. The isolated valley lies behind the mountain ridge of Chele La and it borders with the northern boundaries of the Chumbi Valley of Tibet on one side. This valley was a well kept secret of the country and was off the tourist map till 2002. The pristine valley is the second least populated dzongkhag (District) in the country and popularly known as “Hidden-Land Rice Valley.”
Ema Datshi is one of the most famous dishes in Bhutanese cuisines and is also recognized as the National dish of Bhutan. Packed with powerful flavors, this fiery dish is made from Chilli pepper and Cheese. Ema Datshi is a Bhutanese name, “Ema” means chilli and “Datshi” means cheese.
School students in their traditional attire Gho, strolling in the handicraft market in Thimphu.
Mask culture of Bhutan is one of the most celebrated cultural identities of this Himalayan Kingdom. In most of the religious and cultural events, dancers use masks in their performances.
One of the prettiest sights of Bhutan is Punakha Valley. Encircled by the layers of hills, the flat surface is covered by rice fields, traditional houses and the humble Bhutanese people, which make it one of the charming valleys in Bhutan.
The authentic handicraft market, located in the center of Thimphu is a must visit place for shopaholics. The traditional bamboo huts aligned neatly, below Norzin Lam offer a wide range of Bhutanese art and craft products.
Paro Taktsang is the most sacred Buddhist pilgrimage site, located in the cliff-side of the upper Paro valley in Bhutan. A visit to Taktsang monastery is must when you are in Bhutan.
National Memorial Chortern is a monument to the Third Druk Gyalpo and to World Peace. This is one of the tourist spots in Thimphu. Mostly elderly people pay a visit to Chorten to pray, meditate and spend quality time. Chorten means ‘Seat of Faith’.
A Bhutanese woman crossing the hanging bridge in Haa Valley. People of Haa valley are commonly known as “Haap”. A set of unique cultural practices of this valley sets it apart from the rest of Bhutan.
Takin is the national animal of Bhutan. This wired looking animal looks like as if the head of a goat has been fixed on the body of a cow. Motithang Takin Preserve, located in the Motithang district of Thimphu, is now one of the tourist attractions in the capital.
Sitting on the bank of the Pho Chhu River, seeing the sun fading away, when the sound of electrifying river dominates the surrounding, was one magical moment I had in Punakha.
Bhutan is not a budget traveler’s destination. They don’t encourage Backpackers in their land. Find out a few necessary information before you start your journey to the land of wonders.
All tourists (excluding Indian, Bangladeshi and Maldivian passport holders) , who wish to travel to Bhutan require a visa and must book their holiday through a Bhutanese Tour Operator or one of their international partners. The tour operator will take care of Visa arrangements for visitors.
The Bhutanese Government has imposed a strict minimum spend on tourists to the Kingdom.
- $200 (USD) per person per night for the month of January , February, June, July , August and December.
- $250 (USD) per person per night for the month of March, April, May , September, October and November.
This cost includes accommodation (Minimum of 3 Star Hotel) , All meals , The license Bhutanese Tour Guide , and All Internal Transport ( Excluding Internal flights ).
How to Reach
Air : Drukair -The Royal Bhutan Airlines is the only airline that flies to Bhutan. The International Airport of Bhutan is in scenic location of Paro Valley. The Drukair operates from Delhi, Kolkatta, Singapore, Kathmandu and Bangkok.
Road : One can opt for a road journey in Bhutan with the licensed Tour Guide . To do that one has to obtain prior permission. Tourists can enter the country through Phuntsoling , via Bagdogra in West Bengal.
Being a Buddhist country , the tourists are required to dress up appropriately, specially in temples and Dzongs. (Shorts and Sleeveless tops are not allowed )
Bhutan’s currency is the Ngultrum (Nu) which is at par with the Indian Rupee. Indian rupees can be used in all your transactions throughout Bhutan. Denominations up to INR 500 are accepted in Bhutan.
My Trip to Bhutan was organised and sponsored by Bhutan Bookings.
Disclaimer : Reproduction of any of the contents, including the photographs without prior consent/permission of the writer is strictly prohibited and a violation of the same will attract legal action.
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Bhutan is really beautiful place, those pictures are so beautiful.
Thanks for these amazing photos of Bhutan. Specially loved the one of Chelela. Any info on the camera you used?
So many people have been going here lately and it’s really made me interested in the country! These are simply gorgeous shots, you weren’t kidding! I know so little about Bhutan, but this has given me a glimpse.
Thanks a lot Kristina. Do visit this Kingdom of Happiness at least once in life.
To be honest I’ve never thought of Bhutan as a desirable travelling destination. Punahka valley seems so green, it is unreal! With these small house far away. Also, would love to go through the bridge, even though it looks a bit scary. Interesting to learn about their national dish as I didn’t know anything about the cuisine there.
Sia recently posted…Hlebar Bakery in Sofia, Bulgaria
The images don’t justify the beauty of Bhutan. You have to visit to believe it.
Beautiful photographs Parnashree. I have got a picture of Punakha Dzong with the lilac flowers in bloom. Did you try out much of Bhutanese food? Needed some information for the same.
I had Bhutanese food . The traditional red rice and Emma Datshi are must have in Bhutan.
I absolutely agree with your title… this photo story is amazing and show all of good stuff about Buthan! Wanderlust is easy to convince hehe Thanks for sharing such amazing post!! Best travel! E
Thanks a lot for your lovely words. You must visit this country.
Very colorful lively yet peaceful! Great captures of the different moods of Bhutan!
Indrani recently posted…Maternity Photo Shoot Indoors and Outdoors
Thank you Indrani ma’am.
Bhutan stole my heart! It’s such a fantastic country to visit. Landscapes and architecture are really stunning. Absolutely amazing! 🙂
Adam, Bite of Iceland recently posted…Best time to visit Iceland
Thanks a lot Adam 🙂
Wow, I do not even know where to begin. Thank you for taking me along this beautiful and inspiring journey! From start to finish this was a lovely post. Your additional tips of costs, how to get there, currency, etc. are very helpful for people who wish to visit Bhutan in the future. Thank you!
Thank you Christina for your valuable comment. It feels good if a post can inspire someone to travel to a new destination.
I love all your photos and captions that reveals the culture and the stunning landscape of Bhutan to us. Paro looks amazing with all the greenish fields and mountains, and all the architectures would make it a nice visit!
Julie Cao recently posted…My Favorite Food to Eat in China
Thank you Julie for your lovely works . Keep traveling 🙂
Looks like a very interesting country to visit. The sights look amazing. A minimum spend for tourists is something I’ve never heard of before.
The minimum spend is a must in Bhutan. This country is strict with their visitors and I think that this the way they are protecting Bhutan’s rich cultural heritage and its unspoiled beauty.
Bhutan is indeed a beautiful destination. There’s so much to explore in Bhutan , full of landscape views and rich culture. These pictures are so fascinating.
Thank you Sandy for your lovely words . Bhutan indeed a stunning country to visit for travelers.
Such vibrant and happy pictures … I did follow ur Bhutan travel and I must say such a beautiful country to visit. Lucky you.
Swati recently posted…How to Capture a Perfect Selfie – Tips & Tricks V5
Thank you Swati. You must visit this amazing country.
What a fascinating read! The architecture, landscape, and crafts like hand-woven clothing and Buddhist wall paintings would make for an unforgettable cultural visit! I’d love to explore.
Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie recently posted…A Thrilling Time Sightseeing in Paris by Vespa with Ride ‘n’ Smile + a Giveaway!
Thank you Jackie. Do try to visit Bhutan someday.
Looks like I should definitely add Bhutan to my wish list! (So many countries to visit! Seems amazing AND beautiful! I think it would be a great cultural experience!
Melissa Giroux recently posted…WIN $100AUD Voucher For Your Next Trip + A Recap Of 2016
I am sure about that. Visiting Bhutan will make you culturally enriched.
Absolutely wonderful photographs! The colours are so so beautiful 🙂
Shubham Mansingka recently posted…Travel to Spiti Valley in the Winter
Thank you Shubham. You must visit this magical land.
Bhutan looks so mesmerising and peaceful. I would love to try out their national dish Ema Datshi. Sounds a little too spicy even for my taste buds.
I understand why the Government has imposed a minimum spend of 200-250$ spend per day to keep its cultural heritage intact. It just means that I need to work harder to get here.
Soumya Nambiar recently posted…The Year That Was 2016 – TravelBooksFood
You will come back speechless. A country which is unique in many ways. A must visit place at least for once.
Beautiful pictures indeed. I have been wanting to travel to Bhutan for quiet some time now..and your pictures are only tempting me even more. I love the happiness in the environment there
Thank You Neha . You must visit this country soon.
It’s so nice reading about a place i don’t know much information on!
I would love to go here if it was not for the ridiculously expensive visas, looks like a wonderful colourful country, thanks for sharing!
Thank you Emily. I agree for the fact that Visa is expensive. But If you buy the Visa and explore this land , you will come back with not just a bundle of great memories , but an experience in itself.
The pictures are fascinating! I would love to visit someday and do some photography there. Btw do you get veg food easily there?
Siddhartha Joshi recently posted…Chota Imambara – the stunning Nawabi ‘Palace of lights’
Thanks a lot Siddharha. Yes, You will get veg food. The national dish Ema Datshi is only vegetarian.
I love your photo of the gal weaving. What kind of animal fur do they use for their textiles? I’d love to sit down with a traditional artisan there for an afternoon to learn how to weave like that.
It really looks beautiful. It must have been amazing to visit a place with that nature around it. Not to mention all the history and culture that seems to be visible everywhere. 🙂
Jesper, The Biveros Effect recently posted…Sights in Bratislava – Slovak Radio Building
Yes Jesper. Bhutan has impressed me totally. A must visit place to explore this land of wonders.
Bhutan is definately on my list of countries to visit. Thank you for the brilliant account of Bhutan. Very informative indeed.
Thank you sir. You must visit Bhutan this year
Absolutely stunning photos! Bhutan is such an intriguing place, it’s definitely high on my bucket list. 🙂
Jen Ambrose recently posted…A Motorcycle Adventure in the Indian Himalayas
Thank Jen. You must visit Bhutan soon. I am sure that You will be speechless once you are back.
You have captured the soul of Bhutan so well. This country is so beautiful and unspoiled I could settle here.
Thank you Abhinav . I still can’t get over of this amazing land.
Such wonderful photos! Thanks for the great info too
Thank you Jean.