Must see attractions in Bhutan

  • Top ChoiceSights in Punakha & Khuruthang

    Punakha Dzong

    Punakha Dzong is arguably the most beautiful dzong in the country, especially in spring when the lilac-coloured jacaranda trees bring a lush sensuality to the dzong's characteristically towering whitewashed walls. This dzong was the second to be built in Bhutan and it served as the capital and seat of government until the mid-1950s. All of Bhutan's kings have been crowned here. The dzong is still the winter residence of the dratshang (official monk body).

  • Top ChoiceSights in Thimphu

    Trashi Chho Dzong

    This splendid dzong, north of the city on the west bank of the Wang Chhu, dominates the valley, looking out over a cascade of terraced fields. It's Thimphu's grandest building by far, and served as the official seat of the Druk Desi, the head of the secular government that shared power with the religious authorities, from the 18th to the 19th centuries. The dzong was the site of the lavish formal coronation of the fifth king in 2008.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Taktshang

    Taktshang Goemba

    The 'Tiger's Nest Monastery' is one of the Himalaya's most incredible sights, miraculously perched on the side of a sheer cliff 900m above the floor of the Paro valley. Visiting is the goal of most visitors to Bhutan and while getting there involves a bit of uphill legwork, it's well worth the effort. The monastery is a sacred site, so act with respect, removing your shoes and hat before entering any chapels.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Trongsa

    Trongsa Dzong

    This commanding dzong, high above the roaring Mangde Chhu, is perhaps the most spectacularly sited dzong in Bhutan, with a sheer drop to the south that often just disappears into cloud and mist. The rambling assemblage of buildings that comprises the dzong trails down the ridge and is connected by a succession of alley-like corridors, wide stone stairs and beautiful paved courtyards. The southernmost part of the dzong, Chorten Lhakhang, is the location of the first hermitage, built in 1543.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Kyichu Lhakhang

    Kyichu Lhakhang

    Kyichu Lhakhang is one of Bhutan's oldest and most beautiful temples. The main chapel has roots as far back as the 7th century, with additional buildings and a golden roof added in 1839 by the penlop (governor) of Paro and the 25th Je Khenpo. Elderly pilgrims constantly shuffle around the temple spinning its many prayer wheels, making this one of the most charming spots in the Paro valley. Entry is free to foreign tourists since they are paying their daily tariff.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Thimphu

    Changangkha Lhakhang

    This traditional Bhutanese temple perched like a fortress on a ridge above central Thimphu hums with pilgrim activity. It was established in the 12th century on a site chosen by Lama Phajo Drukgom Shigpo, originally from Ralung in Tibet. Parents come here to get auspicious names for their newborns or blessings for their young children from the protector deity Tamdrin (to the left in the grilled inner sanctum). Children are blessed by a phurba (ritual dagger) and given a sacred thread.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Thimphu

    National Textile Museum

    Thimphu's best museum is part of the Royal Textile Academy. It features a stunning display of ancient and modern textiles, and explores the rich traditions of Bhutan's national arts of thagzo (weaving) and tshemzo (embroidery). The ground floor focuses on royal gho s, including the wedding clothes worn by the fourth king and his four wives. The upper floor introduces the major weaving techniques, styles of local dress and types of textiles made by women and men. No photography is allowed.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Paro

    Paro Dzong

    Paro Dzong ranks as a high point of Bhutanese architecture. The massive buttressed walls that tower over the town are visible throughout the valley, especially when floodlit at night. It was formerly the meeting hall for the National Assembly and now, like most dzongs, houses both the monastic body and district government offices, including the local courts. Most of the chapels are closed to tourists but it's worth a visit for its stunning architecture and views.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Trashigang to Trashi Yangtse

    Gom Kora

    An extraordinarily picturesque temple, Gom Kora is located 13km north of Chazam. The lush green fields, the monks' red robes and the temple's yellow roof combine with colourful Buddhist carvings and the rushing river to create an idyllic scene. The correct name for the site is Gomphu Kora. Gomphu denotes a sacred meditation site of Guru Rinpoche and kora means 'circumambulation'. The Guru meditated here and left a body impression on a rock, similar to that in Kurjey Lhakhang in Bumthang.

  • Top ChoiceSights in South of Thimphu

    Simtokha Dzong

    About 5km south of Thimphu on the old road to Paro and Phuentsholing, the handsomely proportioned Simtokha Dzong was built in 1629 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. The site is said to mark the spot where a demon vanished into a rocky outcrop, hence the name Simtokha, from simmo (demoness) and do (stone). The site was also a vitally strategic location from which to protect the Thimphu valley and the passage east to the Dochu La and eastern Bhutan.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Paro

    National Museum

    Perched above Paro Dzong is its ta dzong (watchtower), built in 1649 to protect the undefended dzong and renovated in 1968 to house the National Museum. The unusual round building is said to be in the shape of a conch shell, with 2.5m-thick walls. The ta dzong suffered damage in the 2011 earthquake but reopened in 2019 as the nation's premier museum.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Phobjikha Valley

    Gangte Goemba

    Gangte Goemba enjoys prime real estate, on a forested hill overlooking the green expanse of the entire Phobjikha valley. The extensive complex consists of the central goemba, monks' quarters, a small guesthouse and outlying meditation centres. Much of the interior and exterior woodwork of the 450-year-old goemba was replaced between 2001 and 2008 due to a beetle-larvae infestation.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Trongsa

    Tower of Trongsa Royal Heritage Museum

    This watchtower (ta dzong) overlooking the dzong now houses an excellent museum. The five floors of displays tell the history of the monarchy through such varied treasures as the 500-year-old jacket of Ngagi Wangchuk, the second king's saddle and a copy of the famous raven crown. You can drive here and then walk back to town down a staircase past several chapels.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Jakar

    Jakar Dzong

    Jakar Dzong is in a picturesque location overlooking the Chokhor valley; the current structure was built in 1667. Its official name is Yuelay Namgyal Dzong, in honour of the victory over Tibetan ruler Phuntsho Namgyal's troops. An unusual feature here is that the utse (central tower) is situated on an outside wall, so there is no way to circumambulate it.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Thimphu

    Weekend Market

    Thimphu's Weekend Market fills a maze-like pavilion on the west bank of the Wang Chhu, just north of Changlimithang Stadium. Vendors from throughout the region start arriving on Thursday and remain until Sunday night, filling the market halls and surrounding streets with produce. The incense area is one of the most interesting, full of deliciously aromatic raw ingredients and pink cubes of camphor and saffron that are used to flavour the holy water given to pilgrims in lhakhangs.

  • Sights in Chokhor Valley (Bumthang)

    Tamshing Goemba

    This goemba, formally the Tamshing Lhendup Chholing (Temple of the Good Message), is 5km from Jakar. It was established in 1501 by Pema Lingpa and is the most important Nyingma goemba in the kingdom. Pema Lingpa built the unusual structure himself, with the help of khandromas (female celestial beings), who, it is claimed, made many of the statues.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Thimphu

    National Memorial Chorten

    This large chorten is one of the most visible landmarks in Thimphu, and for many Bhutanese it is the focus of daily worship. The Tibetan-style stupa was built in 1974 as a memorial to the third king, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck (1928–72). Early morning is a great time to visit, as elderly people shuffle meditatively around the chorten, families light butter lamps, and kids dressed in their smartest gho s and kira s (traditional dress for men and women) rush out a quick kora (ritual circumambulation) on their way to school.

  • Top ChoiceSights in North of Thimphu

    Tango Goemba

    Tango is the residence of Gyalse Rinpoche, recognised as the seventh reincarnation of Gyalse Tenzin Rabgye, founder of Taktshang Goemba. The original monastery was founded in the 12th century but it was the 'divine madman', Lama Drukpa Kunley, who built the present building in the 15th century. Notable for its striking curved frontage, Tango is part of an important university of Buddhist studies – the main campus is down in the valley and monks trek back and forth between the two throughout the day.

  • Sights in Thimphu

    Buddha Dordenma

    The huge 51m-tall steel statue of Buddha Dordenma commands the entry to the Thimphu valley. The massive three-storey base houses a large chapel full of thousands of donated Buddha statuettes, while the body itself is filled with 125,000 smaller statues of Buddha. The chapel roof has some particularly fine mandalas. The Buddha looks amazing when illuminated at night. The area is called Changri Kuensel Phodrang after the former palace of the 13th Druk Desi that once stood here.

  • Sights in Trashi Yangtse

    Chorten Kora

    Chorten Kora is large, but not nearly as large as the stupa of Bodhnath in Nepal, after which it was patterned. It was constructed in 1740 by Lama Ngawang Loday in memory of his uncle, Jungshu Phesan, and to subdue local spirits. In front of the chorten is a natural stone stupa, the sertho, which used to sit atop the chorten and is considered sacred. There is also a small goemba here. The popular Bhutanese film Chorten Kora was shot here.