Bhutan, our erstwhile neighbor, surprisingly has the privilege of having earned multiple titles that describe it like being ‘The Happiest Country in the World’, the ‘Last Shangri La’, the only carbon free country in the world etc. When compared to India it shows just as a tiny speck on the map, but in truth it is a fairy land where dreams do actually come true. Also Bhutan is a popular destination among some of our celebrities as well, for example our celebrity couple Virat Kohli and Anushka Sharma too visited here to celebrate the formers 30th birthday. This speaks volumes for its popularity.
Things And Places to visit On The Best Bhutan tour packages
1. Take a trek up to the famed Tiger’s Nest at Paro
Paro Taktsang or Tiger’s Nest, the most prominent landmarks of Bhutan, which is dedicated to Guru Padmasambhava, was built in the year 1692. A casual look at this structure will definitely make you wonder at the architecture and as to how this was constructed at that height and the narrow strip that it sits on. If you believe in legends then the story that goes with this monastery too is very believable. Legend has it that the sage Padmasambhava literally flew to this spot on the back of a tigress and meditated here for a period of three years, months, weeks, and three hours respectively, and is also credited for the spread of Buddhism in Bhutan.
The only way up to this shrine is to trek it up. Before embarking on a visit to the shrine you need to bear in mind that this is not a regular trek, as most of you might imagine it to be. Although horses are available to take you halfway up to this shrine thereafter it, in fact, is a very challenging trek owing to the fact that there does not exist any regular trail but is only a series of uneven steps that are cut out of rocks and roughshod paths carved out of years of trudging by the people visiting this shrine. Another important aspect to remember here is that you are requird to buy the tickets, to visit here, right at the starting point at the bottom and that no mobile phones or photography are allowed in the shrine. So what are we waiting for pack up and let’s venture out on any one of the Bhutan tour packages and experience the thrill of visiting this shrine.
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2. Laya Gasa Trek
Laya Gasa trek, that originates at Drukgyel in Paro, cuts across four high altitude Himalayan Mountain passes while passing through some spectacular meadows, also happens to be the most scenic and popular long-distance treks in the northern Himalayan region of Bhutan, running right along the Tibetan border. It is ideally suited for the hard core adventure buffs visiting here having opted for the Bhutan adventure tour package.
This trek finally terminates at the nomadic remotely located village of Laya, from where the descent to hot springs of Gasa starts where you can revel in the joy of spending a relaxed and a rejuvenating stop over and ultimately terminating your ending the trek at the Punakha Valley.
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3. Get Awestruck At Punakha Dzong
Bear in mind to add a visit to this amazing and spectacular place, the Punakha Dzong, when visiting Bhutan on any of your Bhutan tour packages, as it is considered to be the most beautiful and unique architectural structure in Bhutan. Moreover the location of this site is such that it lives up to the beauty of a place, as depicted in story books, located among colourful trees, beside a river over which is drawn a rickety wooden bridge, to cross over. It is the most perfect setting for a Dzong wioth an amazing sense of imposing history.
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4. Take Part In The Local Festivities
Bhutan is a land of rich culture and traditions, which is to be experienced firsthand when visiting the country on a Bhutan Holiday package. Surprisingly you will find that the locals here believe more in person to person interaction than spending time on mobile phones. In fact there does not exist a single cinema hall in Bhutan as a result of which you are bound to notice how people here indulge in festivities and bond with each other. You get to witness a riot of colours during the festivities with people dancing and singing merrily while celebrating. If you are visiting this country during the time of festivities, make sure that you try and become a part of these celebrations.
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5. Visit Eastern Bhutan
Surprisingly the eastern part of Bhutan is considered to be largely offbeat as all the visitors to this amazing country do not venture out to this part of Bhutan, especially Indians, making it the least explored part of Bhutan. The visitors are generally confined to the Phuentsholing, Paro, Thimphu & Punakha circuit. It is essential, here, to mention about the spectacular and stunning beauty of this part of Bhutan which incidentally also offers immense scope for the adventure buffs, visting here having chosen the Bhutan adventure tour package, to undertake some amazing treks etc. while for those seeking solitude, tranquility and seclusion, visiting here having opted for the Bhutan holiday tour package, are bound to be rewarded with no crowds and can thus enjoy their stay in a space dedicated to them alone. Also you are bound to come across minority ethnic groups, some numbering less than a thousand.
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6. Go Rafting On The Po chu River
When visiting Bhutan having opted for the Bhutan adventure tour package, it is suggested that you experience river rafting. It is most unlike the regular rafting in some of the Indian rivers, as you can do so in the two main rivers, the Mo Chu (female river) or the Po Chu (male river). A ride in both these rivers is thrilling and can be undertaken even by beginners. Moreover if you are looking for a softer ride then Mo Chu is your choice of river, as it is softer with lesser and simpler turns or rapids etc. and also for the fact that it crosses the Winter Palace of the King, a site to behold for its mesmerizing beauty.
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7. Watch/Learn Archery
Archery in Bhutan is akin to what cricket is to India A professional archer in Bhutan is considered and worshiped like a hero, just like we do to our sports heros in India. Craze for archery in Bhutan can be compared to something like drug addiction elsewhere in the world so much so that the archer at times can go as far as seeking blessings of a shaman in order to enhance his or her skill in archery, the actual game, however, is all about skill and precision and a treat to watch. Interestingly even a tourist, visiting Bhutan on a Bhutan holiday tour package, can have access to learning this amazing sport.
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8. Let Loose & Party It Up In Thimphu
There is nothing like loosening up after a long day of going around sightseeing or walking through some places around town in the Bhutanese capital of Thimphu. Even otherwise spending an evening in one of Thimphu’s nightclubs is worth the time and money spent when visiting here having chosen one of the Bhutan tour packages. Dance to some local music and indulge in some local alcohol, remember that smoking is prohibited or rather banned in Bhutan. Another fun concept in Bhutan goes by the name of Drayangs, a place where the women folk dress up in their national or traditional dresses perform songs and dances.
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9. The Phallus Garden
A very uncommon name for a garden but the fact lies in that Phalluses are a very common sight in Bhutan. It is essentially a symbol that is supposed to bring in good luck while promoting fertility and harmony and ward off evil spirits. You will get to see these figures painted in on buildings and displayed on the headgear of masked clown as well, so much so that traditional house warming’s call for the mounting of a basket full of Phalluses on the roof of the new home.
These symbols have, now, been existence since the 15th century, ever since they were popularized by the “Divine Madman”, the eccentric Buddhist teacher, Drukpa Kunley, when he introduced Buddhism to Bhutan. You will need to see these and understand from the local folklore to really believe this legend when visiting this amazing country on a Bhutan tour Package.
Interestingly this so-called The Garden of Phallus, which you must visit can be found at the museum, restaurant, and a photo studio that goes by the name Simply Bhutan, representing a Bhutanese village
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10. The Burning Lake
Although, being termed as a ‘Burning Lake’, it looks the least like a lake. Actually, it is a body of water that runs along the Tang Chhu River in the Tang Valley. This pool of water has earned its name ‘ the Burning Lake’ because of a legend that talks about the recovery of a hidden treasure by one of the most religious figures of Bhutan, Terton Pema Lingpa, in the later years of 1400.
According to the legend, it was way back in the 15th century that Pema Lingpa had a vision regarding some hidden treasure in a pool of water at a point where the Tang Chhu river widened. Further according to this legend, Pema Lingpa, having made such a claim was required to prove the authenticity of it, to do so he is said to have gone underwater while holding a burning butter lamp, which surprisingly was still lit on his having resurfaced with the reported treasure which was in the form of a chest and a scroll. It is from this point onwards that this pool of water was given the name of ‘the Burning Lake’, which was otherwise known as the Nya Ring Brag, or the “Long Nosed Cliff”.
Ever since then this Burning Lake has come to be revered as the most sacred place and an important pilgrimage site for the Bhutanese people. This is a place that needs to be on your must-visit place when traveling to Bhutan having opted for a Bhutan holiday tour package. Once here, you will also get to see the colorful prayer flags flying around the altar dedicated to Terton Pema Lingpa, while butter lamps can been seen scattered around the river bank as a tribute to him.
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11. Drukgyel Dzong
An early to mid 17th century structure, the Drukgyel Dzong was built, when Bhutan and Tibet went to war, and it was the building of this Dzong that signaled the change in the ground realities in Bhutan.
A victory over Tibet, in the famous Battle of Five Lamas, that was won by Zhabdrung Ngwang Namgyal, who led an army, after having risen to power in the year 1634, led to the birth of the erstwhile state of Bhutan and Zhabdrung Ngwang Namgyal becoming the very first ruler of this princely hill state. To stop the continued fighting and repeated invasions by the Tibetan or the Mongol-Tibetans these Dzongs were built, all along the main routes linking Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, to the villages in Bhutan of the time.
Having been built in the year 1649 near Paro to repel the repeated attacks by the Tibetan invaders, this Drukgyel Dzong finally ended up becoming an important stop for traders dealing in the export of rice into Tibet and the import of tea and salt from Tibet.
It was in the year 1951 that the Drukgyel Dzong, suffered destruction due to a fire and whatever was left of the structure was left to the elements of nature till 2016, when restoration work was started. Make sure that a visit to this ancient fort is on your tour itinerary while visiting this erstwhile hill kingdom on a Bhutan holiday tour package
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12. Rock Climbing In Bhutan
Although there is an understanding that a trip to this erstwhile hill kingdom is all about exploring the national parks, monasteries, etc. there is another major attraction for the adventure buffs, that compels them to visit here, having chosen the Bhutan adventure tour package, for their visit to Bhutan. This most important aspect from their point of view is the training imparted here in the art of Rock climbing at Thimphu. It is seen, very often, that an average tourist/traveler to any hill station generally enjoys hiking and trekking among the higher hilly terrains, the adventure junkies looking for something that gives them a higher adrenalin rush. This urge is very well catered to here in the sport of Rock climbing, which puts to test their body strength, mental and physical determination, physical balance, endurance, body strength, and most important of all their control over the mind and agility.
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The one and only club in Thimphu offering such training are the Vertical Bhutan Climbing Club. It offers training for every skill level starting from beginners to the most advanced skill levels, along with providing the required, equipment to undertake this training and guidance.
Discussed above are some of the amazing places and activities that can be visited or undertaken when in Bhutan. The pleasure of rafting, trekking, meeting people, trying to relish visits to some of the ancient and legendary place, all these make for an awesome and a fulfilling visit to this erstwhile princely state having chosen any of the best Bhutan tour packages.