Bhutan straddles ancient and modern with a distinct and amazing cultural identity. One of the last great Himalayan kingdoms it is largely Buddhist and has the unique attribute of placing more emphasis on national happiness than GDP.
Thimphu city is the heartland of architecture and culture. Traditionally styled buildings with Buddhist embellishments, such as elaborately painted trefoil windows and wooden frames, juxtapose the main thoroughfare, which is lined with shops and eateries. It offers a wealth of ancient fortresses, chortens and modern museums as well as a base for adventure sports.
The quaint town of Paro lies at the centre of a valley rich in sacred sites and ancient buildings. Surrounding attractions include the iconic Taktshang Goemba Tiger’s Nest monetary that clings to a sheer cliff face where seven temples cluster around a cave where Guru Rinpoche, founder of Bhutanese Buddhism, is said to have alighted from the back of a flying tiger.
Bhutan’s cultural stronghold is Bumthang Dzongkhag with its colourful textiles and arts. The Phobjika Valley is a beautiful area, good for treks and river rafting. The country has a unique cuisine marked by spicy dishes and red rice but it is the uninterrupted Tibetan culture that sets Bhutan apart: traditional tunic-wearing businessmen, studious monks, and homes with phallic protective paintings.
Bhutan is a medieval kingdom entering the modern world that offers a glimpse into a different way of life, founded on Tibetan philosophy and veiled in mysterious allure.
Thimphu’s historical sights: the 350-year-old Tashicho Dzong monastery fortress, The Memorial Chorten and the beautiful frescoes and slate carvings of Simtokha Dzong | The sights of Paro: ruins of the Drukgyel Dzong fortress, Kyichu Lhakhang monastery, and the fourteen shrines and chapels of Rinpung Dzong
− A unique approach to tourism charges a hefty daily fee to visitors, which makes it both an exclusive and well-preserved destination
− Known as the land of the Thunder Dragon