It has been referred to as the Last Shangri-La—a utopia, a perfect place, isolated from the noise of the outside world. It just might be true, because Bhutan is a country like no other.
It wasn’t until the 1960s that Bhutan, a country in the Himalayas, was known to the outside world. Its people, culture, and traditions have all been isolated, so they had a world of their own before they were discovered.
The Paro Dzong is a historic valley in Bhutan that has some of the best architecture in the country. Some of the best spots to visit in this district is the Taktshang or the “Tiger’s Nest,” one of the country’s most famous monasteries. It is located in the cliffside of a valley. It literally hangs on a cliff, sometimes even being covered by clouds—definitely surreal and absolutely stunning.
Punakha, the country’s former capital, is another must-see. It’s weather is more warm, unlike the other areas in the country which could get insanely cold in the winter. Famous for rice farming ideal for its weather, this place is home to beautiful Dzongs (fortresses) and many sacred relics such as the remains of and Terton Padma Lingpa, a Buddhist saint; and Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the unifier of Bhutan.
Another entertaining attraction loved my many (adult) tourists is the Temple of the Divine Madman. Already about 400 years old, this place is maintained by more than a dozen monks. What’s inside it? Well—a lot of male genitalia. The phallus is important to Bhutanese folklore because Lama Drukpa Kunley, a Buddhist saint, had great albeit outrageous teachings around the 15th century. They don’t look at this as pornographic, rather a set of teachings of the “Divine Madman.” It’s even been said that it could help infertile women conceive.
Thimpu, the capital city of Bhutan, is where you’ll find hotels, restaurants, and cafes. However, despite the existence of modern structures, there is still a prevalence of monasteries, monuments, and dzongs. This is where the Weekend Market happens, where you could find the finest and freshest food sold by the friendly locals. At the Kuendeyling Bazaam, there are huge lanes of stalls that sell authentic handicrafts and clothes. If your’re looking for meditation tools such as prayer wheels and instruments, this is where you’ll find them.
If you’re looking for a spiritual retreat, this is the best place to visit. The country’s main religions are Buddhism and Hinduism, so any visitor will be in awe of the many temples and religious spots that only this country has to offer. After all, they do not call this country “an abode of the gods” for no reason.
Since the country is located at the mountains, trekking is one of the activities that visitors look forward to. There are a vast array of places for trekking and hiking, depending on your strength and preferences. For treks that could last 11-15 days, it’s best to visit Bumthang, Druk, Gasa Hot Springs, and Chhomolhari. For shorter treks, the Gangtey and Bumthang are your best choices.