places

Bhutan is the hidden kingdom of the Himalayas. The places to visit over there are numerous and full of ancient heritage. Located between India and China, two powerful and populous neighbors, Bhutan has managed to stay away from the tourist bustle and economic evolutions for centuries. Today, regulations have changed a bit, but the country is still very preserved.
For you to better select the places you would like to travel to, find below a presentation of the three main regions of Bhutan, with their natural environment, heritage places, touristic attractions and traditions: Western Bhutan, Bhutan Central and Eastern Bhutan

East Bhutan

Being the most far-flung region endowed with hilly landscapes, Eastern Bhutan is less conducive to farming and therefore for the settlement of populations. Bhutanese people describe this region as follows: «Climb, climb and climb even more, climb down, climb down, climb down, and once again climb up, climb up.» A relatively less known region and less frequented by tourists, it is well known for its manufacturing of Handloom textile, based on traditional pratices.Mount landscapes

Lhuntse, a remote and astonishing district

Lhuntse is one of the main districts of Eastern Bhutan and one of the most isolated regions in the country. Located 77 Km away from Mongar, its landscapes are stunningly beautiful: cliffs, gorges, forests… The weavers of the region are deemed to be the best in the country.
Mongar, one of the major cities in the district, houses the most recent dzong of Bhutan, built in the ’30s. Its construction bears testimonial to the permanence of traditional architecture across centuries.

Trashigang, an economic center between India and the rest of the Himalayas

Tashigang, (also written as Trashigang), is the eastern most district of the country, and is essentially inhabited by the Sharchopas. A former trade crossroads on the route linking Assam and Tibet, the city remains a strategic location for trade with India or Dubai. This explains the fact that this region boasts of the highest density of population in the country despite having very harsh geographical and climatic conditions.

Western Bhutan has some of the most beautiful valleys in the world and is surrounded by Mount Chomolhari (7320m) and its permanent snow cover.

Paro: the main axis of the kingdom

Paro is the name of a district, a valley, a river and a city. It is the richest valley both historically and culturally speaking. Set at the very heart of Bhutan, it houses a number of exceptional sites such as Taksang (the tiger’s nest), a veritable stereotypical image of Bhutan and its most famous mmonastery. We can also mention Kyichu Lhakhang (dating back to the 17th century, the oldest in Bhutan) and the Drukgyel Dzong (in ruins ever since the ‘50s), built for protecting the valley from Tibetan invasions from the West.

The most fertile valleys of Bhutan

The Paro valley is also one of the most fertile regions in the country. This is where the red rice with terrace farming is produced. The traditional architecture is beautiful and highly colourful. Built on 3 levels, they house cattle on the ground floor, the family on the first floor and the reserves are stored in the attic.
Paro has the lone international airport of Bhutan. It is a bustling trading city. It has a massive dzong and is home to the national museum of Bhutan.

A quiet Himalayan capital
Even though it is the modern capital of Bhutan, THIMPHU is a quiet city with a 30,000 strong population, and a beautiful architectural complex where life is comfortable, contrary to the image that one usually has of a capital city.
It is an ideal starting point for day long excursions or hikes or for reaching Telegraph Hill and the thousands of prayer flags that it harbours. Four hours by foot and here you are in the monasteries of Phajoding, Tango and Cheri.

The previous capital of the kingdom

Punakha Dzong built in the 17th century in-between the Phochu and Mochu rivers, was the kingdom’s capital up to 1955. Built by Shabdrung Ngawang, it retains his embalmed body and an impressive amount of artistic wealth. Its mild climate and pleasant temperatures make this valley one of the most fertile ones in the kingdom and the winter residence of the king.

Central Bhutan is home to several valleys, The Bumthang valley is the richest and the most interesting aong these.

Bumthang, the richest valley of central Bhutan

Bumthang is one of the 20 districts of Bhutan. If we consider the number of listed temples, archeological and holy sites, it is the richest district historically speaking and the religious centre of the country. It is here that the Guru Rinpoche cured a local king, an event which resulted in the king, and finally the entire country, embracing Buddhism. Bumthang is also famous for its bright coloured and distinctive woven woollen garments known as yethra.
Bumthang comprises four valleys, each one different from the others but all being as beautiful as the others: Ura, Chumey, Tang and the Bumthang valley (or Choekhor).

An area rich of historical and cultural sites

Among its several historical and cultural sites, we would like to mention:
Membar Tsho (the burning lake), where sacred texts were hidden by Guru Rimpoche in the 8th century, and then found again by Pema Lingpa in the 15th century,
Kurje and Jambay Lhakhang, the most sacred monasteries of Bhutan,
Tamshing Lhakhang, one of the most important Nyingmapa temples (also called «Red Hats», one of the schools of Tibetan Buddhism) in the country.
Jakar Dzong, located next to the city bearing the same name is today an administrative centre of the region, and was historically speaking the entrance door of Buddhism to Bhutan.

The city of Ura shuts off the valley bearing the same name at its highest point. The road which leads us there criss-crosses uneven landscapes, dense forests and pasture lands. Perched at 3,100 m, the scenic village of Ura is endowed with beautiful houses with a highly atypical architectural unity.

Trongsa, a residential city
Further to the east lies Trongsa which houses the winter residences of the nobility of Bumthang.

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