Thimphu, the capital of the kingdom, is not as modern as the other world capitals by any measure. It is relaxed and strongly driven by tradition.
One of its landmarks is the Tashichhodzong, a whitewashed complex where the throne room of the king is located. It is also the summer residence of the central monk body. Foreign visitors are allowed to enter the premises only during Thimphu Tshechu, but foreigners may view the fortress’ royal beauty from outside all year round.
The National Memorial of Chorten is another popular landmark in Thimphu. The whitewashed stupa, which is accentuated by a gold spire, was built as a memorial to the third king of Bhutan. The chorten has religious paintings and Buddha statues and is visited by the locals as a place of prayer and worship.
Punakha is one of Bhutan’s prettiest destinations, not to mention one of the most historically significant. It used to be the country’s capital and stood as a witness to the different events that shaped the country’s history.
Punakha Dzong is an important evidence of Punakha’s close tie to Bhutan’s history. The dzong was built in 1637 and served as the seat of government.
Although it has been devastated by fires, floods, and earthquakes during different periods of its existence, the Punakha Dzong still stands spectacularly, with ancient features such as temples, wall and ceiling paintings, wooden staircases, and assembly hall (Kuenrey) continuing to amaze tourists.
Also showing off its glory is the Khamsum Yulley Namgyal, a four-storey temple built by Her Majesty Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuck. It boasts of fine architectural features and offers impressive view of the surroundings from the top floor.
The Chimi Lhakhang temple is dedicated to Drukpa Kunley, the Divine Madman, who lived in the 1500s. Today, Chimi Lhakhang is popular as a fertility temple, usually visited by people who want to have children.
Of course, Chimi Lhakhang is not only for the childless. Anyone can visit the temple to see the paintings and the Divine Madman’s statue, among other things.
If you happen to travel from Thimphu to Punakha, you will most likely want to stop at the Dochula Pass. Offering a full view of the Himalayan mountain range, Dochula Pass is famous among locals and tourists alike. The Bhutanese, too, like to visit the area on weekends and holidays to relax and enjoy the surrounding.
On a clear day, you’ll see the amazing range of the Himalayas, which proudly displays its unparalleled natural grandeur.
Dochula Pass is an even more visually interesting place because of the Druk Wangyal Chortens, a cluster of 108 stupas constructed in 2004 by the initiative of Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck to commemorate the war fought in southern Bhutan.
At the pinnacle of the pass, overlooking the stupas, is the Drung Wangyal Lhakhang, a temple constructed to honor His Majesty King Jigme Singye Wangchuck for his leadership and victory in the war.
With rich cultural and historical heritage, Paro is one of the most interesting destinations in Bhutan. From its display of imposing and historical structures to the valley that surrounds the place, Paro doesn’t fail to impress.
A visit to Paro is never complete without a trip to Rinpung Dzong, also known as Parong Dzong. Built in the 15th century, the dzong used to be Bhutan’s strongest citadels. It even set the architectural standard for the future fortresses in the country.
On a hill on top of Rinpung Dzong is a watchtower called Ta Dzong. Now functioning as the National Museum, the watchtower has a collection of stamps, coins, paintings, tea ware, weapons, and other arts and handicrafts.
Taktsang Lhakhang, also called Tiger’s Nest, is a monastery constructed on a cliff, so visitors have to hike for around three hours to reach it. Pony rides are also available. After the seemingly arduous climb, what awaits the visitors is a sight of remarkable beauty.
Situated in the northern part of Bhutan, the Gasa district offers nature at its finest. Gasa, after all, is declared an organic district.
In fact, the Jigme Dorji National Park, where a rich collection of flora and fauna resides, encompasses the entire district. The takin (the national animal), the red panda, the snow leopard, and the blue sheep are some of the animals that can be spotted in the park. Even the blue poppy – the national flower – can be found here.
The hot springs in Gasa are said to have healing properties, drawing Bhutanese from all over the country. A dip in these springs is definitely a rejuvenating experience.
The mountains in the district and the glacial lakes at the feet of these peaks also provide an unforgettable sight; the natural heritage of Gasa is truly very rich.