Places to visit in Bhutan

From spectacular Dzongs to beautiful monasteries perched high on clifftops, there are a multitude of places to visit when traveling in Bhutan. Below are some of our favourites, many of which can be seen on or along the Trans Bhutan Trail.

1. Buddha Dordenma:

Standing at a whopping 51.5 meters, the bronze Buddha (Shakyanmuni) statue sits atop a hill in Thimphu (the capital of Bhutan). The Shakyamuni statue is among the biggest Buddha statue in the world. The statue was built in 2015 to commemorate the 60th birth anniversary of the fourth king of Bhutan (King Jigme Singye Wangchuck). The statue is believed to fulfil the prophecy of Guru Padmasambhava (who is often referred to as the second Buddha) and the yogi, Sonam Sangpo. The prophecy foretold of a Buddhist statue that will be built in the region which will bring peace and happiness across the world. Inside the chest section of the statue are 125,000 miniature Buddha statues, ranging from 8 to 12 inches in height. The statue is located in a place called Kuensel Phordrang but the locals know it by it’s sobriquet, the “Buddha Point”. It is a place where people go to pray, spend time with family and get away from their busy lives. It definitely gives whoever visits it, a breathtaking view of Thimphu valley and a sense of spirituality.

Paro International Airport
Women hiking in Bhutan

2. Punakha Dzong

Right at the confluence of two of Bhutan’s most important rivers (Pho chhu and Mo chhu) lies the majestic, Punakha Dzong. Punakha Dzong is a must visit, with its awe-inspiring architecture and history. From 1637-1907, Punakha served as the capital of Bhutan, where the first national assembly was hosted in 1953. Punakha dzong is also the second largest and the second oldest dzong in Bhutan. Inside the dzong, are some of the most historically important and some of the most sacred relics in the country, like the Rangjung Kharsapani and the sacred remains of Tertoen Pema Lingpa and the most important figure in Bhutan’s history, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the Tibetan lama who unified Bhutan.

3. Chendebji Chorten:

Built by Lama Ngesup Tshering Wangchuk in the 18th century, Chendebji Chorten is modelled after the Bouddhanath stupa in Katmandu, Nepal, and like the Bouddhanath temple, has eyes painted on the four sides of the stupa. The chorten is one of the important buddhist sites in the country, with a lot of pilgrims visiting it during Sambha Lhundrup Molam Chenmo (which is one of the buddhist festivals held during the ninth month of the lunar calendar) to pray and make wishes. Inside the chorten is a relic, the skull of a man believed to have been the reincarnated protector of the Tibetan Buddhist teachings, Tenzin Lekpai Dhundrup. Like most other holy places in Bhutan, Chendebji Chorten is also surrounded by several legends. Some say that the chorten was built on the site where an evil spirit in the form of a giant serpent was subdued, while some say that the Chorten was built so to subdue a demoness that used to bring misfortune to the people living in the area. All these legends goes to show how sacred the shorten is considered by the Bhutanese.

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4. Lungchutse Temple:

The hike to Lungchutse temple is one of the most tranquil experience you can get in Bhutan. It takes you about two hours to reach from Dochhula, which is yet another beautiful sight to see. The hike takes you through a beautiful hemlock and rhododendron forest. The temple is situated at 3100 to 3569 meters above sea level. It is home to some of the rarest birds and it gives you a 360 view of the Himalayan range. You can see major peaks of the country like Jhomolhari,  Masang Gang, Zongphu Gang, Gangchhenta and Gangkar Phuensum (which remains the highest unclimbed mountain in the world at 24,740 feet). People come across Yak herders’ campsite which can offer insights into the nomadic lifestyles of the herders. It is a place which is almost totally disconnected from settlements and is an amazing place to connect with nature and it’s riches.

5. Chimi Lhakhang Temple:

Chimi Lhakhang Temple is about a 20 minute walk from the Lobesa highway in Punakha district. The sacred temple is also known as the “Fertility temple”. The temple was built in 1499 after the site was blessed by a saint named Drukpa Kunley (The Devine madman), a maverick Tibetan yogi who is believed to have subdued a demoness at a location near where the temple stands today. The pilgrims who visit the temple are blessed with a 10-inch wooden phallus decorated with a silver handle. Those unable to conceive children visit the temple from around the world, where the women wishing to conceive are made to carry a wooden phallus around the temple three times.

Although ATMs can now be found in most towns, many are unreliable, especially when used with international cards. Visitors are advised to carry some cash. Your guide can help you in exchanging it to local currency. 

6. Mebartsho

Mebartsho, which translates to “Burning lake” is a fresh water lake located along the way to Tang valley. The lake is considered to be one of the most sacred sites in Bhutan due the believes surrounding it. The lake gets it’s name from the legend that Terton Pema Lingpa (Terton: Treasure discoverer), in the 15th century had a vision of a treasure which he believed was hidden by Guru Rimpoche (Padmasambhava) within the lake. The ruler and the people of Tang refused to believe his claims. Pema Lingpa is said to have jumped into the lake with a lit butter lamp in his hand, and later, re-emerged with a scroll and a chest with the butter lamp in his hand still lit. Thus, the name, “Burning lake”. People visit the lake to make offerings and to enjoy the breathtaking beauty of the lake and the place surrounding it.

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7. Trongsa Taa Dzong:

The Trongsa Taa Dzong, which was built by Chogyal Minjur Tempa (who was the first governor of Trongsa) in 1652, stands on an area above the Trongsa dzong. The Taa Dzong, in medieval Bhutan, served as a watch tower to protect Trongsa dzong, and functioned as a stronghold for the region from attacks from the outside. The tower has undergone extensive renovation and has been converted into a national museum since 2008. It houses numerous religious and royal artifacts; some of which are the actual works of ancient Buddhist craftsmen. The five storey tower has a cylindrical built and has four observation points said to resemble a Tiger, a Lion, a Garuda and a Dragon (guardians of the four cardinal directions). The tower also has two grand temples dedicated to Gesar of Ling (from the epic of King Gesar) who was said to be the successor to the Buddha. The Tower also has a media room with state of the art technology. The Taa dzong is a reflection of medieval Bhutan that fascinates both national and international tourists alike.

8. Zhonggar Dzong:

The Zhonggar Dzong was built in the 17th century by a master carpenter from Paro called Zow Balip, who was invited by the King of the area at that time. The dzong stands atop a hill overlooking Tridangbi village. The dzong stretches over 6 acres and was the largest dzong in Bhutan. Although, there are no written accounts about the dzong, the magnificence and the stories about the dzong are still talked about by people who heard it from their elders. It is believed that dzong was so beautiful that the king, in fear of the master carpenter building another dzong like it, cut the carpenter’s hands. The dzong later burned beyond repair and for some unexplained reasons, there has never been an attempt to repair or restore the dzong. Today the dzong is covered with weeds and has almost blended with the forest surrounding it. But, one has to look at the dzong in person to actually appreciate the craftsmanship that went into building it and people also get an idea of the administration in medieval Bhutan.

Unique places to visit in Bhutan


  1. Serbhum Brewery:

Serbhum Brewery is a micro brewery located about 12 kilometers from Thimphu in the woods of Hungtsho. Serbhum brewery is passionate about brewing an authentic Bhutanese beer with the best quality and share it with the world. The brewery is located in the woods because of the pristine spring water that flows near the brewery. People visit the brewery to taste all the different beers the brewery produces from a beer tap. People can also get a tour of the brewery on request and even watch what goes into the production of a beer. The brewery also overlooks an archery ground, so people can enjoy a beer while also watching the game. With a warm and pleasant nature of the team there and the serene atmosphere of the brewery is sure to make you feel relaxed and re-energized.



  1. Jungshi Handmade Paper Factory:

Jungshi paper factory is located around a kilometre from Thimphu town, facing the Centenary farmer’s market. The factory uses barks from Daphne trees and Dekap trees to produce handmade papers. The factory uses an ancient paper manufacturing process. In the old days, the papers were used to write holy scriptures and manuscripts and were mostly sent to monastic body. In 1990, in an attempt to preserve the ancient practice of paper making, the factory was set up. The factory commercialised the papers, and now the handmade papers are exported to places like the US, Europe, Japan, India and Nepal. The factory has even started to experiment making papers with ingredients like flower petals, grasses, chilies and many more. People can make orders for customised books, paper bags, greeting cards and lamp shades by picking the ingredients they’d prefer products to be made with (the most popular among tourists being chilies). People can even try their hands at this ancient craft and try making their own papers.


  1. Home stays/ Farm stays:

Tourists are often in a rush to take in as much as they can, that they don’t get a chance to linger in a place and understand the place on a deeper level. Travelers visiting Bhutan should consider staying at a homestay as one of the things to do in Bhutan. In a farm stay, you can do and experience every activity that locals do and experience every day if you are the type who is curious about how they live. A tradition of hospitality and generosity is a hallmark of Bhutanese culture. The Bhutanese people have a saying that a guest for a night is god. Having the privilege of living under the same roof as these people is a unique experience. It is fascinating to spend time with locals in their homes and villages, and to learn about their culture, lifestyle, and the similarities and differences between cultures. As a result, you gain a deeper understanding of their cuisine and livelihood, as well as their ancestral history. The culture of homestays in Bhutan is taking shape now as many families invite tourists into their homes. So, it will definitely be a unique experience.