Bhutan, a majestic land-locked Himalayan country bordered between Tibet (the autonomous region of China) and India, is a unique place where we can experience a pristine nature at its finest. With an area of just 38,394 square kilometers (14,824 square miles) it is fascinating that Bhutan houses a unique bio-diversity, solely due to its huge altitudinal variation within a short distance.
People and Culture
Having a population of estimated 741,700 (in 2019); most of the Bhutanese follow doctrines of Vajrayana Buddhism. They are known for being the most content people in the world since they prefer spiritual happiness over materialistic happiness, which has been their way of living since ancient times. The main ethnic groups in Bhutan are the Sharchops, who are believed to be the earliest inhabitants of Bhutan, and the Ngalops, whose ancestors were Tibetan settlers. The Lhotsampas are the ethnic group that migrated from Nepal during the nineteenth century. The main language for communication is Dzongkha, while 24 others are known to be spoken by the indigenous people. English is the most popular language used when communicating with foreigners. The Bhutanese take great pride in their culture, as we rarely see them in modern clothes. Men wear their traditional attire Gho, a kilt-like costume while women usually wear an outfit known as Kira, a top called Wonju, and a jacket known as Taego. The national dish of Bhutan is the EmaDatshi, a dish comprised of local chilies and cheese. Rice, vegetables, meat dumplings, pork, beef, mushrooms and spices are other local delicacies we ought to try in Bhutan.
Things to do
The impeccable nature of this magnificent country provides us with opportunities to witness its incredible culture tours, hiking and trekking in Bhutan. Cultural tours in major cities like Paro, Thimphu, Punakha we can enjoy visiting Tiger’s Nest, Punakha Dzong, Gangteng Monastery, National Museum of Bhutan, etc. One of the best, Chomolhari trekking in Bhutan gives us life time memorable experience of the Bhutanese Himalayan beauty including amazing city sightseeing tour. We could not miss Ringpung Dzong, Tashicho Dzong, Drukgyel Dzong Monastery, Gangtey Monastery, Celela Pass, Dochula Pass, Haa valley, and Namgay Artisanal Brewery while we are there in Bhutan. We could go on a jungle safari to have a glimpse of exotic species of birds, or we can bike our way from town to town on a gravelly road whilst enjoying the mountainous view. Trekking and hiking through mountain passes could also be our thing to do in Bhutan. If we are more into a hardcore pilgrimage, Bhutan also provides us with historical monasteries where we can witness the traditional and ancient culture of Bhutan.
When to visit
The best time of the year to visit Bhutan is from October through December, as the skies are clear which gives us the best scenery. The period through January to February is the coldest with occasional road closures, but it is the time of the year when a major Buddhist festival Lhosar is celebrated. March and April are generally dry and warm with flowers blooming in the valleys. From May on, the temperature starts to rise. The Monsoon period begins from June through September, so if we do not mind the rain, this time of the year could also be our option as there are fewer tourists around. Bhutan can light us up at any time of the year.
Optimal days required for a good visit
If we are planning to travel all around the country, it would require us a couple of months. If our visit is purely cultural we can experience major heritages and monuments within a week’s period. If we are a trekking addict wanting for adventurous trekking then we will require at least a week or two.