High and steep mountains, a network of swift rivers and deep valleys forms this picturesque nation
Bhutan, also known as the land of thunder dragons, is the last Kingdom of South Asia . It is quite similar to Nepal with its mountainous geography. The himalayan nation has India on its East, West and South while China on the North. High and steep mountains, a network of swift rivers and deep valleys forms this picturesque nation. Bhutan is a religious and environmentally conscious nation. The country has a large portion of Buddhist population. Mt. Gangkhar Puensum, at 7,570 metres, is the world’s highest unclimbed peak, due to religious beliefs. While the nation gathers the world's attention due to its spectacular happiness index, it has done a tremendous job on tourism as well. The country has a very high per tourist spending rate among all the south asian nations. Sustainable tourism development and and environment conservation strategy has kept the culture and ecology alive while maintaining quality tourism.
For nepalese travelling to Bhutan, you need a valid visa before travelling. Applying for a Bhutan visa is not done through an embassy, cannot be done online, and there is no Visa on Arrival service at all. The only way to get a visa for Bhutan is to have booked a tour with a tour operator or travel agent that is registered with the Tourism Council of Bhutan and the Bhutan Foreign Ministry. Visas for Bhutan are obtained after you have booked your tour, and it is the tour operator or travel agent that you use that makes the application on your behalf.
Bhutan and Nepal are separated by just 63 kilometers of land at their closest points. Traveling to Bhutan from Nepal is a simple journey, taking you across the Indian State of West Bengal to the Bhutanese border crossing at Phuentsholing, or by flight direct from Nepal.
Paro is the first destination for those flying to Bhutan as this city holds the only international airport in the country. Along with Jakar and Punakha, Paro forms the 'golden triangle' of popular tourist destinations in Bhutan. This city is standing in a Valley and is often revered as the last Shangri-La on earth due to its glorious history and numerous sacred sites. Paro Valley is wide and lush and recognized as one of the most beautiful in all Bhutan. Prefer to stay in Paro if you are fond of nature and like to spend quiet and peaceful time. However, apart from the main street, which is constructed of traditional wooden structures, the bazaar area is a assortment of concrete buildings that may lack the charm you expect. Visit Taktshang Lhakhang (Tiger’s Nest), National Museum of Bhutan, Ugyen Pelri Palace, Rinpung Dzong, Kyichu Lhakhang, Jangsarbu Lhakhang, Dungtse Lhakhang, Ta Dzong, Drukgyel Dzong.
The capital city of Bhutan and the official residence of Bhutan’s royal family, Thimphu is situated on the western-central region of the country, on the banks of the Gushing Raidak River. It is dotted with scenic vistas and mountain peaks that reach 2,000-3,800m. Thimphu also boasts of being the commercial centre of this happy kingdom by showcasing the indigenous cultures and traditions with the modern face of Bhutan in the most splendid way. The presence of spirituality in the air blends well with the Buddhist traditions, and fills the atmosphere with serenity of this city. There are various religious sites and places of heritage to visit such as the Buddha Dordenma Statue, Tashichho Dzong monastery and fortress, the National Memorial Chorten, National Folk Heritage Museum, Changangkha Lhakhang monastery and many more. While religious sites are filled with tourists, you can go for nature related tours, treks and hikes as well.
The valley of Phobjikha is one of the most enchanting places to visit in Bhutan. This is also the place where one can find the rare black-necked cranes in abundance and 13 other globally threatened species. Unique from the rest of the Happy Kingdom, the valley showcases heart-warming cultures and is adorned with rich faunal biodiversity. Resembling much to the shape of a bowl, the grace of Phobjikha Valley is further enchanted by the great Black Mountains and endless expanses of evergreen fields which is a treat to every tourists’ eyes. Irrespective of which month or season it is, you can always expect a surreal experience in this valley. The valley houses one of the impressive ancient Buddhist monasteries. Visit Gangteng Monastery of the Nyingma sect for understanding the buddhist traditions and rituals.
Guarding the borders of Bhutan in the west, the Chomolhari Mountain is a part of the great Himalayas. It is also known as the bridge of Kanchenjunga due to its proximity with the third highest mountain in the world. Rising around 2,700m above the ground level, this enthralling mountain is a sacred site among the Buddhists, mostly the Tibetan Buddhists. Legends have it that it is the abode of Goddess Jomo, who is believed to be the protector of Happy Kingdom. Chomolhari Mountain remained unclimbed until 1924 as the folklore said that anyone trying to scale this sacred mountain will be thrown or pushed down. However, it has now become a hot-spot among the trekkers and thrill seekers alike. Even if you don’t wish to climb Mount Jomolhari, you must not miss the chance of having a close look at it.
JIGME DORJI NATIONAL PARK
As much as 71% of Bhutan is forest land, making the Jigme Dorji National Park, the second biggest in the country, one of the main activities to do in Bhutan. The park borders Tibet in the North and is home to some of the most remote tribesmen who live in seclusion from the modern world and look after the park. So along with animal husbandry, local folk, there is flora and fauna as well. This park is home to snow leopards and clouded leopards, the Himalayan black deer, Bengal tigers and many more. It also has numerous species of birds, animals, trees, flowers, making this a unique place to visit in the globe. Jigme Dorji National Park has also become a favourite ground for trekkers opting for Jomolhari Trek, Snowman Trek, Lunana Trek and Gasa-Laya Trek.
Merab Tsho, also known as “the Burning Lake,” this sacred site, not quite a lake, but rather a pool along a river in the Tang Valley. Local legend says that the water contained a hidden holy treasure uncovered through divination by one of Bhutan’s most important religious figures, Terton Pema Lingpa, in the late 1400s. Devout Bhutanese always send a little lamp floating on the water and make a wish. It is still believed today that people with less sins and spiritual minds are able to distinguish an extraordinary sight in the lake while looking down from a rock overlooking it. At the entrance to the lake is the image of Pema Lingpa along with his two sons carved out onto a rock. Mebar Tsho is a 30-minute drive from Chamkhar Town, located along the road to Ura or the Tang village in central Bhutan's Tang Valley. It takes about five minutes to walk from the road to the lake. The lake is accessible throughout the year at all times.
Enriched with the charm and splendour of evergreen forests and mountains, the Jakar Valley or Bumthang is also known as ‘Little Switzerland’. Even though you may not find the scenic Swiss Alps here, you can surely savour the delicious ‘Swiss Cheese’ while touring around the magnificent Jakar Valley; thus, it got its name. Located in central-eastern part of the country, Jakar Valley can easily surpass any of the places to visit in Bhutan with its bountiful beauty and natural marvels. Jakar’s rugged terrains and challenging trails also earned it a fame among the adrenaline seekers. Whether outdoors or indoors, you would surely like every bit of this valley. While there, don't forget to visit Jakar Dzong, Wangdicholing Palace, Kurje Lhakhang, Zangtopelri Lhakhang, Tamshing Gompa, Chakhar Lhakhang.