Mountains, mystery and magic. Welcome to Bhutan. With astonishing landscapes and highly diverse wildlife, there’s nothing about the place that doesn’t amaze you. There was a time when the country was said to be the poorest, but that may be true only in terms of currency. Because historically and culturally, Bhutan has always been quite rich. And thanks to the growing tourism and other industries, the economy here has boomed in recent years as well.
So here are some of the most incredible things to do in Bhutan:
1) Hike up to Paro Taktsang
The Tiger’s Nest, or commonly known as Paro Taktsang is a prominent Buddhist sacred site. Perched on a cliff 2,000 feet above the Paro Valley, it is also one of the most challenging monasteries to reach. You can take a pony up till the Tea House cafe where you can rest your feet and then walk to the viewpoint. Getting off is another huge task as it gets really steep. So you have to be even more careful while descending. However, the view from up there makes it all worthwhile.
2) Live in a Bhutanese homestay
There’s nothing like experiencing another culture while living among the natives of a land. When it comes to Bhutan, you will find the friendliest people and warmest hosts. So make it a priority to spend a few days at a local’s home and watch them celebrate life in the simplest of ways.
3) Take a hot stone bath
I cannot think of anything more relaxing and satisfying than a long, uninterrupted hot bath. And what if that bath has healing and rejuvenating properties as well? Yes, yes, yes. I would say go on and get into that wooden bathtub for a serene and soothing experience. The menchu (medicine water) or a hot stone bath is an age old practice wherein a person soaks in fresh river water that is mixed with local Artemisia leaves and heated with river stones roasted on fire.This ritual has been used by native Bhutanese for years as a cure for skin diseases and several other ailments.
But now a days, several monasteries, farmhouses and hotels offer the bath as a form of spa to visitors. However, the beauty of this bath lies not in exotic hotel bathrooms, but in rustic locations with a view of the valleys overlooking the mountains. Lying naked in a hot bathtub in the wilderness…sounds pretty adventurous too, right?
4) Try eating Ema Datshi
Bhutanese love their chillies. And this traditional dish just serves the purpose. Made with locally grown hot chillies and home-made cheese, it is bound to leave your taste buds tingling. You can have it with Koka noodles or Thukpa (Tibetan noodle soup) on the side for a full and happy stomach.
5) Go water rafting in Mo Chu or Paro river
With six major glacial fed rivers, there are plenty of things to do in Bhutan for water sports lovers. I would personally suggest going to Mo Chu river- Punakha for white river rafting and sitting by the Paro riverbed with your loved ones or alone..whatever you prefer. Watching the mystical water flow and listening to its sound over the rocks is a musical experience. Something that stays with you for a lifetime.
6) Go mountain biking in Haa Valley
For all those adrenaline rush seekers, Haa valley is an ideal spot for mountain biking. Adorned with alpine forests and mountain peaks, the isolated region holds a great amount of potential for adventure sports. You can go trekking, hiking or simply take a stroll in the lush greenery and let mother nature take care of all your woes.Haa valley is also home to one of Bhutan’s finest weaver communities, so you can go shopping textiles here too.
7) Strike a pose at Punakha Suspension Bridge
The longest suspension bridge in Bhutan (160 metres), which is built on Po chu river connects to the nearby village. If you see the Punakha Dzong, don’t miss this one as it is very close by. Built broad and strong, the view from the bridge is amazing. The mountains on each side and the river below make a perfect picturesque setting. So you can take some wonderful clicks for your instagram account right here.
8) Contemplate death at Buddha Dordenma
It is said that there are more statues of Buddha than people in Bhutan. But this one is truly gigantic. The huge 51m-tall steel statue of Buddha Dordenma commands the entry to the Thimphu valley. And while you’re gazing the mesmerising structure, you can ponder over the meaninglessness of life and remember the absolute truth, that is death. Yes. The people of Bhutan contemplate the biggest fear of human mind five times a day. It makes them free of the stigma related to death and gives them a fresh perspective towards life. I wonder if that is the key reason to Bhutanese taking the top spot on the table of happiness index