Bhutan is a landlocked country in the eastern Himalayas of South Asia. Located between China and India, this country has a modest area of only about 47,500 meters squared and a population of only 750,000 people. Thimphu is the capital and also the largest city here. This nation preserves the only remaining traditional Himalayan Buddhist culture in the world.
Recently, Lonely Planet has voted Bhutan as a place worth paying a visit in 2020. The country receives such special attention thanks to the most significant attraction from the optimism and love of the people here. Although ranked as the lowest economy in the world, Bhutan is known as the happiest country on this planet. There is no stereotype of wealth and materialistic craving here. The people of Bhutan pay particular attention to the spirit – the comfort between people. Therefore, Bhutan is the only country in the world that measures the country’s prosperity based on the GNH (Gross National Happiness) index, not GNP (Gross National Product) as others. Besides, the people here are also aware of high environmental protection, keeping this country at a really low pollution level.
Unmissable Places to visit
Trongsa Fortress (Trongsa Dzong):
The largest and most important Dzong fortress of Bhutan is located in Trongsa – the royal lineage ancestor sacred worship place. The fortress has been the residence of Bhutanese kings since 1907. It was built on a spur overlooking the Mandge Chu river dam, to control trade from the East to the West over the centuries. Inside, it contains as many as 25 temples to worship the gods according to the beliefs of Bhutanese people.
Jigme Dorji wild zoo:
Was established in 1974, Jigme Dorji is the second largest national park in Bhutan with an area of 4316 meters squared. It is recorded as home to 36 species of mammals, 328 species of birds, 5 species of amphibians, 300 types of herb and 39 species of butterflies. Especially, this place nurtures many rare species such as takins (cattle chamois), snow leopards, bharal (Himalayan blue sheep), tiger, red panda, Himalayan black bear, etc.
Buddha Dordenma statue:
Located on a hill in Thimphu, the giant statue, of which the height is more than 51 meters, is considered one of the largest Buddha statues in the world. An extraordinary thing that not everyone knows is that the statue houses over 125,000 smaller Buddha statues, each of which, like the Great Buddha Dordenma itself, are made of bronze and gilded in gold.
Was built in 1740, this white stone architecture is located in the Karmaling valley in the East of Bhutan. Kora stupa is one of the oldest Buddhist architectural works in the country. The tower was built to chase away evil spirits and preserve many Buddhist relics.
Tiger’s Nest Monastery (Paro Taktsang):
This is one of the most sacred and architecturally attractive places of worship in the country. The monastery is located in the cliffside with an altitude of 600 meters above the ground. It was built from the 17th century. According to legends, this is where Guru Rinpoche – the one credited with introducing Buddhism to Bhutan – meditated on a tiger’s back.
Punakha Fortress (Punakha Dzong):
Constructed in 1637, Punakha Fortress is considered one of the most beautiful fortresses in Bhutan. Although it had been through many catastrophic events for ages that caused severe damages, after that, the fort was restored by the King of Bhutan and became the administrative centre of Punakha.
Some Bhutan travelling notes
- Bhutan has four distinct seasons throughout the year. Still, the best times to travel are in the spring (March – April) because of the incredibly beautiful scenery, and the festive season (September – November) because of the largest festivals of Bhutan are held around this time.
- The monetary unit of Bhutan is called Nu ($ 1 = 65.7 Nu, 1 Nu = 350 VND). You should exchange enough money at the airport because there will not be many money exchange places.
- It is impossible to choose backpacking or bushwalking when travelling to Bhutan. You must go by the service of their domestic travel company because very few Bhutanese know foreign languages and most places in Bhutan can only be visited with a guide. Because of taking the tour, there is no need to spend much besides buying souvenirs or additional eating.
- In Bhutan, there are quite a lot of stately temples and palaces. Therefore, costumes choices when in Bhutan should be discreet, decent clothes.
- Because people here uphold the spirit of environmental protection, please kindly do not cut trees, pick flowers, kill animals in this country. Also, if you decide to smoke in Bhutan you will be arrested by the police.
- Due to a long-standing Buddhist culture, most people here are vegetarian. Therefore, the cuisine in Bhutan is relatively simple, with the main materials are rice, corn and vegetables. Bhutanese people also like spicy food, so the taste is more or less influenced by these factors.
- Unique dishes of Bhutan include Ema Datshi, Kewa Datshi, Momo cake, Phaksha Paa, Yaksha Shakam, Ezay, Suja, Juma, etc.
- Hotels in Bhutan are concentrated mainly in the two big cities of Paro and Thimphu with a wide range of price and quality (from high-class to affordable). For example, in Paro, there is Naksel Boutique Hotel & Spa with an average overnight price of about 150 USD / night; In Thimphu, there is Ariya Hotel with an overnight cost about 110 USD / night.
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