Bhutan is a mysterious and lockdown Himalayas country in the eyes of the outside world. Its territory extends from the Himalayan snow mountain of more than 7000 meters in the north to the relatively hot low-altitude area in the south. The diverse natural scenery provides the possibility of Bhutan tourism of various themes, such as Bhutan leisure trip, Bhutan sightseeing trip, family trip, Bhutan trek, etc.
Here is soaked with a strong Tibetan Buddhism color. You will see various temples and Buddhist holy sites. Each scenic spot has religious legends. Religion has also shaped the gentle character of the Bhutanese. Here’re the top 20 tourist places in Bhutan according to the conventional tourist routes, among which Tiger’s Nest, Rinpung Dzong, Punakha Dzong, Trashi Chhoe Dzong and Dochu La Pass are the most worth visiting attractions.
Tiger’s Nest – The Most Sacred Attraction in Bhutan
Tiger’s Nest (also Tiger Cave Temple or Taktsang Goemba) is located on a 900-meter mountain cliff in Paro Valley, 3120 meters above sea level. This temple was built in 1692 and it’s regarded as the most prominent place of interest in Bhutan. According to legend, the Indian monk Guru Padmasambhava once meditated and practiced here. It is a holy place for all Bhutanese believers to worship. The temple experienced a fire in 1998, and then it was restored in 2005.
Tourists generally need to be led by a tour guide to enter the Tiger’s Nest. It usually takes about 2 hours to trek up the mountain. There are horse rides (20-30 US dollars). You can consult your tour guide if you need it. However, even riding up the mountain is very bumpy. In some sections of the road, you have to lie on the horse to prevent it from falling. You still need to hike on your own when going down the mountain. Bhutanese believe that only hiking is pious enough.
There are two viewing platforms on the way. The first viewing platform is a horse station where horses can rest. From here, you can see a group of white buildings on the cloud-shrouded mountain cliffs, like a fairyland, that is the Tiger’s Nest.
The second viewing platform can clearly see the Tiger’s Nest, which is also a good place to take pictures. You can no longer ride horses here. You need to walk along the stairs with your legs to finish the next journey.
There is a waterfall hanging in front of the monastery gate, and the water flows over the layers of rocks into the deep pool. This is the legendary rosary scattered by Guru Padmasambhava.
The entire monastery complex is composed of four main halls and living areas, most of which are built along the mountains. Every building here has a balcony, on which you can see a beautiful view of the Paro Valley.
Punakha Dzong – The Most Beautiful Dzong
Punakha Dzong located in western Bhutan is considered the most beautiful Dzong in Bhutan and one of the best places to visit in Bhutan.
Renowned as the most important Dzong in Bhutan’s history, there’re unique murals that are not found in other monasteries in Bhutan. Legend has it that the builders summoned the most prestigious craftsmen of the time and ordered them to make a Dzong look like paradise. While the craftsmen were thinking hard, the builder took them to heaven for drawing. Punakha Dzong thus becomes a portrayal of heaven on earth. You won’t find any nails between any two pieces of wood.
The most beautiful monastery witnessed the most romantic love story between the current king of Bhutan and his wife. They married in 2011 here. In summer, the fruits of the linden tree in the courtyard fall all over the ground. There are not many tourists and it is quiet. Under the sunset, Punakha Dzong put on golden clothes, solemn and beautiful!
Great Buddha Dordenma – Gigantic Sakyamuni Statue
This is one of the newly developed Bhutan tourist attractions. The giant bronze Sakyamuni statue is more than 50-meter-high. It stands on the top of a mountain in the south of Thimphu. It was built by China and has not yet been completed. When you visit Thimphu, you can see the giant statue in many places.
There will be multiple Buddhist halls inside the Buddha statue, which can accommodate 125,000 small Buddha statues. Here you can not only watch the big Buddha statue up close but also overlook the charming scenery of Thimphu Valley.
Rinphung Dzong – The Most Famous Architecture in Bhutan
Rinphung Dzong is also called the Paro Dzong fort, which means “jewel pile on the fortress”. Built in 1644, Rinphung Dzong is one of Bhutan’s most famous temples and a representative of Bhutan’s classic architecture. Standing tall above the town of Paro, it once was used as a fortress to defend the Paro Valley. Like other dzong forts in Bhutan, it’s not only a Buddhist temple and serves some government functions. The famous Bhutan movie “Little Living Buddha” is filmed here.
The building is dominated by black wood on a white background, and it looks elegant and beautiful. There are monks, courtyards, towers, and government office areas (but not all open). The Buddhist paintings and gorgeous wood carvings on the walls are worth appreciating. Standing upstairs you can see the panoramic view of Paro town.
National Memorial Chorten – The Landmark of Thimphu
National Memorial Chorten was built according to the vision of Jigme Dorji Wangchuck (the 3rd king of Bhutan, known as the father of modern Bhutan). Unfortunately, when the monument was completed in 1974, he passed away. This is a monument built to commemorate the king and for peace in the world. It is also the place where the pilgrims of Thimphu turn to the tower most every day. The locals believe that this way can wash away the sins committed previously.
The National Monument is also a stupa, which houses many sacred religious paintings and Tantric Buddha statues. This large building with a golden spire does not store the remains of King III, but a portrait of him for the people to admire. Bells on the monument jingle in the wind, and below are long winding lines of devout people. It is said that many members of the royal family and religious leaders will also visit here.