Bhutan Travel Guide

Bhutan Adventure Travel Guide: Ideas and Inspiration

PureTravel Says: “The Royal kingdom of Bhutan, situated in the eastern Himalayas, shares its northern border with China. The boarder in the east, west and south is shared with India. Impact of Buddhism is apparent in all walks of life in the kingdom. Unique cultural heritage and pristine Himalayan surroundings in Bhutan offer awe inspiring scenic beauty. Bhutan has been endowed with some of the most exotic species of the plants and birds on the planet and the kingdom is one of the popular bio diversity hot spots on the earth. Rich fauna, flora and Himalayan ranges offer endless adventure opportunities to any visitor.”
Holiday Highlights

Walking & Trekking – The kingdom of Bhutan is one of the most unique countries in the world. Higher reaches of the kingdom are respected and trekkers are not allowed to climb these particular ranges. Pristine natural beauty of the kingdom, along with its flora and fauna offer unmatched experience for any trekker.

Popular treks involve going to the monasteries and small townships and are a great way to explore the kingdom. This offers an ideal mix of fun and adventure. For the seasoned trekker there are also many challenging treks. One can choose from the following treks; Chomolhari, Laya-Gasa and the cultural Bumthang trek as well as many others.

Culture & History – The culture of the kingdom is one of the most preserved and guarded cultures in the world. People of the kingdom respect their customs and culture and its values. The royal government of Bhutan is equally conscious of maintaining the cultural identity of the kingdom through its mandatory wear of their national dress at public places by all citizens.

Ethnically, Bhutan is made up of three main groups. These are Sharchop in the east, the Ngalops in the west, and the Lhotsampas in the south.

Official language of Bhutan is Dzongkha though local dialects are prevalent among the sparsely located settlements. People in the main cities are also familiar with English. Official religion of the kingdom is the tantric form of Mahayana Buddhism with temples and monasteries numerously spread across the country.

Rafting – Rafting is offered at many of the rivers. Popular rivers among the rafters are Pho Chu and Mo Chu. These rivers offer class 3 and 4 rapids and are quite challenging even for serious rafters.

Adventure Tours – The kingdom of Bhutan offers lovely locations for a wide variety of outdoor sports. Rock climbing is one of the popular activities as well as bicycling.
When to Go

The Bhutan is the kingdom of variable climates with climates varying from region to region. Southern plains of the kingdom are tropical where as central valley offers cool winters and hot summers. Himalayan regions of the mountain experience severe winters along with cool summers.

You can visit Bhutan any time of the year but is normally advised to avoid winter, which is really harsh. Best time for rafting in the kingdom is between the months of March and May as well as between the September and November months.
Top Tips

- The Government of Bhutan allows only a limited number of travellers in per year so check with the government agency before reaching there.
- Buying cigarettes here is illegal.
Holidays In Focus

Walking and Trekking

The Chomolhari trek is a six-day trek and takes the visitor through a variety of scenic places across the kingdom. The trek starts from the Drugyel Dzong and ends at clear lake near the eastern face of Chomolhari. The lake is full of crystal clear water and offers a magnificent view to watch. Along the trek you get the chance to pass through scattered dwellings and forests of the kingdom. If you are lucky, you may spot wild animals. Another popular trek follows the long established route from Chomolhari across to Laya.

It is one of the oldest routes and still ranks as one of the best treks in the kingdom. Popularity of the trek lies in the variety of natural spectacles encountered on the trek. One comes face to face to with farmlands, forests and high passes. One can also join camping with the trek. A magnificent campsite under some of the picturesque mountains of the kingdom will leave unforgettable impressions on the mind of any tourist. Trek ends at Laya, an isolated settlement and a cultural treat to any visitor.

The Bumthang cultural trek in the central region of the kingdom offers exceptional opportunity to come in contact with the life style of the kingdom. This is a four-day trek that starts from Jakar and takes one through the turning and twisting route across the Bumthang countryside.

One of the low altitude treks that are popular is The Lhuntse trek in the eastern region of the kingdom. It takes the travelers through one of the most scenic areas of the kingdom beginning at Tangmachu, which is situated at two hours drive from Mongar. The trek also takes one through the old caravan route across the kingdom. During the springtime one will be enchanted with the shear natural beauty of the place.

The Lunana trek takes one through one of the remote regions of the kingdom. On the trek one will have a chance to come close to some the virgin peaks of the Himalayas. The trek starts at Punakha and for the next three days one traverses steep gorges leading to Laya then crossing the Karakachu La and entering Lunana. Afterward, one walks to Gophu La and explores the valleys south of Gangkar Puensum. This is one of the highest peaks in the world that is still unclimbed and hopefully will remain so in the near future. The trek then ends in the Bumthang Valley and is for experienced trekkers only.

Another popular short trek is the famous Druk trek. This is a four-day trek and one can start from Thimpu and end at Paro or other way round. On this trek one passes through the chain of mountains separating the two valleys. This trek also encompasses Rhododendron forests and lakes filled with crystal clear water that are sure to leave deep impressions on any trekker’s memory. Blooming Rhododendrons in the month of May offer a spectacle of a kind that is worth watching.
Culture and History

Two main cities of the kingdom of Bhutan lie in the valleys. Thimphu, the capital city, is one of the most picturesque cities of the kingdom and is situated on the banks of the river Thimphu. This city is a storehouse of the centuries old culture of the Kingdom. Important places significant for the cultural heritage of the kingdom include Trashi Chhoe Dzond, Memorial Chorten.

The second main city is famous by the name of Paro and is one of the most scenic places in the kingdom. The historic buildings and natural landscapes of the town and its surroundings are remarkable. This town is also situated on the banks of a river by the name of Paro. This town is home to the famous Taktshang monastery and national museum. Kyichu Iyakhang, one of the holiest temples of the kingdom, is situated near Paro City.

Bumthang is the spiritual heartland of the kingdom. It is home to most of the older and more precious Buddhist sites. The most important temples and gompas are located in this area. It is one of the must- visit sites for any visitor if one wants to imbibe the culture of the kingdom in an intimate way. Trongsa in the central Bhutan is the home of the first monarch of the kingdom.

Bhutan offers lots of attractions to visitors from around the world. Its virgin mountains, lush green forests, prosperous valleys, ancient temples and ruins, and unique culture all allure tourists to this small kingdom in the eastern Himalayas.
Glacial valley of Phobjika has been preserved as a conservation area and is located on the borders of the Black Mountain National Park. The park itself is one of the most important wild life conservatories of the kingdom. The endangered and rare black-necked cranes, part and parcel of the kingdom’s folklore is found resting here.

Barking deer, leopards, red foxes and Himalayan bear are some of the species that any tourist may encounter here. Another wild life sanctuary by the name Satkeng Wildlife Sanctuary is situated in the close proximity. Wilderness of the eastern Bhutan can be explored from locations such as Punakha and Trashigang, as well as from Wangdue Phodrang and Gangtey Gompa. These also happen to be the key tourist sites.

The Hydroelectric project, by the name Kurichu is situated in Mongar. Manas Game Sanctuary situated in the south is home to diverse wildlife and flora. Animals one can encounter here include Rhinoceros and Tigers along with Elephants, Leopards and Bears. A variety of tropical and migratory birds also find this place ideal for their home. One can stay in the lodge to enjoy the nature at its best.
Classic Itineraries

- Trek to Paro–Thimphu
- A visit to Bumthang
- Trek to Thimph / Punakha
- Trek to Punakha / Wangdiphodrang / Thimphu
- Trip to Manas game sanctuary
- Trek to Satkeng wild life sanctuary
Travel Resources

By Julie Bowman


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