Bhutan boasts the happiest people on earth and it really shows in the country’s unique mix of traditional and modern culture, as well as its emphasis on living life in harmony with nature. If you’re looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, Bhutan may be the perfect digital detox retreat to experience nature and culture all at once. Here are three great places to visit while traveling through Bhutan that you can’t miss.
Bhutan is famous for two things: its happiness index and the Tiger’s Nest temple (more on that later). The country chose indeed to focus on measuring the quality of life of its inhabitants instead of a trade growth index. King Jigme Singye Wangchuck named it the Gross National Happiness Index in 1972. Every consecutive famous leader of Bhutan has since adopted the measure as a way to grow without sacrificing traditions and values.
What is a digital detox?
Traveling can be a digital detox. Let’s face it, when we travel to places where we don’t know anyone and nobody knows us, we crave that privacy. We enjoy being with our loved ones, but an escape to a far-away land where we are surrounded by natural beauty is exactly what we need to relax.
Bhutan is one of those places in which you get to experience pristine nature, different cultures and be truly alone without having any distractions from your gadgets or other electronics around you.
Although technology has its benefits as well, there are many reasons why it may not always be helpful for us to use them too much. Studies show that overusing technology can change our perspective about real-life events instead of making these things more attractive for us.
Experiences: top 3 things to do in Bhutan
Experience nature first-hand at one of Bhutan’s famous national parks. Trek across lush valleys and gorges, surrounded by a stunning beauty that you won’t find anywhere else in Asia. Whether it’s trekking, rafting or hiking, you can get active in some way or another when exploring these beautiful places.
Wondering what to do in Bhutan? Wonder no more because we’ve done the research for you. Here is our list of the top 3 best things to do in Bhutan to experience a digital detox while still offering picture-perfect moments to post on your social media when you come back.
1. Bhutan Tiger’s Nest, Paro Taktsang
Nestled atop a cliff in Paro Taktsang, Tiger’s Nest Monastery offers an unparalleled view of one of Asia’s most dramatic landscapes. According to legend, Guru Rinpoche meditated here for 3 years in an attempt to subdue evil spirits.
After finally succeeding, he declared it would be a place where people could heal and find peace. Today, monks still reside at Tiger’s Nest. And when you arrive via cable car – crossing Bhutan’s highest bridge along the way – you will see why it is considered one of Buddhism’s most sacred sites by both practitioners and non-practitioners alike.
It is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can visit during any season but fall (September through November) is particularly stunning with changing leaves and cooler temperatures. Plan on spending about 4 hours there including time to hike down or up if needed (the incline is steep). There are no restaurants or other services nearby so bring your own food/drinks/snacks.
2. Chimmi Lhakhang Temple
The history of Chimmi Lhakhang is shrouded in mystery. However, it’s believed that over time, a Nyingmapa Buddhist lama named Lama Rinpoche came to Bhutan from Tibet and transformed into Buddha Shakyamuni. He remains at his monastery in Bumthang province. With an ancient temple structure set amidst extraordinary views, it’s no wonder that Chimmi Lhakhang draws travelers from across the globe.
If you’re interested in exploring other religious shrines in Bhutan—such as Dochula Pass or Jakar Dzong—you can easily do so on your way to Chimmi Lhakhang Temple by taking a day trip from Jakar village. You’ll find plenty of accommodations nearby.
For example, you could stay at Hotel Wangdichholing near Jakar village for around $15 per night. From there, it takes about 45 minutes to drive to Chimmi Lhakhang Temple. It’s also possible to visit Chimmi Lhakhang Temple independently with a rented car if you have enough time (at least two days).
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3. Punakha Dzong
Punakha is a town located in Bumthang District, about 20 minutes outside of Thimphu. It’s home to Punakha Dzong, which sits on top of a mountain that overlooks the confluence of two rivers.
The dzong (fortress) was built in 1637 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal as a stronghold against invaders from Tibet. The local monks wear traditional attire—including yellow hats with a red hatband—which is distinct to Bumthang, one of Bhutan’s four traditional regions. With about 6,000 people living there as per 2005 census, Punakha feels more rustic than most other towns in Bhutan.
However, it’s also becoming a popular tourist destination because of its close proximity to Paro Airport. That means you can get there easily but still have time for a proper experience. Book an overnight stay at Jigme Drukpa Hotel or Tashi Yangtse Hotel if you’re planning on spending some time here; both are great places to relax after exploring Punakha Dzong and its surrounding villages.
When to visit Bhutan?
Although a trip to Bhutan might sound like a leisurely escape to paradise, there are still several questions you need to ask yourself before planning your trip. For example, when is it best to visit? The climate in Bhutan varies significantly between seasons.
Generally speaking, summers are warm but not unbearably hot (April-June), while winters can be cool (-10°C / 15°F) or cold (-20°C / -4°F) but rarely freezing (November-February). Autumns offer mild weather that’s best for trekking. If possible, you’ll want to avoid visiting during rainy season—December through February—when monsoon storms bring rain daily and make some roads impassable.
Regardless of what time of year you decide to visit, keep in mind that temperatures are generally cooler at higher altitudes and warmer at lower elevations. As such, you should dress in layers so you can adjust as necessary. When to go: June–September for warm temperatures with little rainfall; November–March for comfortable temperatures at lower elevations; April–May for cooler weather with more precipitation
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