Cover Photo by Susan Tuckey, Penguins2PolarBears

If you’ve made the decision to travel all the way to Bhutan, well, you’re in for a treat. This vastly undiscovered land has its arms open wide to visitors and offers a head-spinning blend of beauty, history and culture. During what is most likely to be your once-in-a-lifetime trip there, you won’t want to miss a thing. Here’s a checklist to get you through your unforgettable and enlightening visit to this richly diverse and friendly country. 

For Art, Culture & History

National Institute for Zorig Chusum: Preserving and promoting the traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan, with incredible artwork displays. 

National Museum of Bhutan: Hundreds of Bhutanese artifacts, traditional costumes, artwork, armor, weaponry and handicrafts set in Paro Ta Dzong, an ancient watchtower.

Royal Textile Academy of Bhutan: The country’s first institution devoted to the conservation and exhibition of Bhutanese textiles and the techniques used to create them. Also home to a precious collection of artifacts from Bhutanese monasteries.

Simply Bhutan: An interactive living history museum that illuminates visits in the traditional life of the Bhutanese. Dress up in traditional costumes and try out archery. 

The Folk Heritage Museum: Set in a three-story, 19th-century, traditional home, offering insights into Bhutanese households and way of life. See typical household objects and tools and watch demonstrations of rural traditions.

Trashiyangtse: A vast  region of subtropical and alpine forests and home to the region’s indigenous dwellers, who have developed incredible woodworking and paper-making skills. Includes the School of Traditional Arts and the Kulong Chhu Wildlife Sanctuary.

Wildlife & National Parks

Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary: Home to approximately 150 black-necked cranes every winter, as well as 130 species of butterflies. Also site of the mystical Singye Dzong and Dechenphodrang Lhaghang, the most scenic monastery in Bhutan.

Jigme Dorji National Park: Home to the national animal (takin), national flower (blue poppy) and national flower (raven) and the national tree (cypress), as well as several endangered species, including the snow leopard, the Himalayan blue sheep and the Bengal tiger.

Motithang Takin Preserve: A wildlife reserve to takin, the Bhutanese national animal. 

Photo by Susan Tuckey, Penguins2PolarBears

Phobjikha Valley: A beautiful valley punctuated by the 17th-century Gangtey Gompa monastery and home to rare black-necked cranes.

Royal Manas National Park: Home to thousands of animal and plant species, including the highly endangered Royal Bengal tiger, Asian elephant, Himalayan black bear and more than 365 bird species.

Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary: Home to isolated nomadic tribes, rhododendrons, snow leopards, red pandas, the mythical Yeti and more.

Thrumshingla National Park: A landscape of alpine and subtropical forests and home to snow leopards, tigers, red pandas and rare plants. 

Jigme Khesar Strict Nature Reserve: Home to takin, serow, red panda, Himalayan musk deer, clouded leopard and more.

Wangchuck Wildlife Sanctuary: The largest national park in Bhutan and home to three ecological zones and six different habitat types, as well as the Royal Bengal tiger, snow leopard and Himalayan musk bear. 

Shopping & Dining 

Choki Traditional Art School: Private institute to train Bhutanese students in traditional arts. Exhibits include student competitions, paintings, drawings, weavings, wood carvings and masks. 

Jungshi Handmade Paper Factory: A place to purchase authentic Bhutanese paper and learn about traditional paper-making techniques. 


Namgay Artisanal Brewery: A fantastic local brewery in Paro, with many styles of beer and cider. 

Norzin Lam Street: Thimphu city's main artery, lined with all manner of local craft shops and and stalls, along with larger shopping centers. Find artwork, handicrafts, clothing, carpets, books and woven and wood items.

Samdrup Jongkhar: The oldest town in Bhutan with several sightseeing destinations, including Mithun Breeding Farm and the Samdrug Jongkhar Dzong. 

Temples & Monuments 

Buddha Dordenma Statue: The massive statue of Shakyamuni located atop a hill in Kuenselphodrang Nature Park overlooking the Thimphu Valley, celebrates the 60th anniversary of fourth King Jigme Singye Wangchuck and is dedicated to bringing peace and prosperity to the world. It is 54 metres high (177 ft).

Photo by Susan Tuckey, Penguins2PolarBears

Drukgyel Dzong Monastery and Ruins: An incredible ancient ruin situated on a ridge in the upper Paro valley. 


Gangtey Monastery: Important monastery of the Nyingmapa school of Buddhism, with an amazing view of the Phobjikha valley, home to the rare black-necked cranes in winter. 

Jangtsa Dumtseg Lhakhang Temple: A temple across the street from Paro and built in the form of a chorten, which is quite rare in Buddhism.

Memorial Chorten: One of the most visible landmarks in Thimphu and daily site of worship for many Bhutanese. 

Photo by Susan Tuckey, Penguins2PolarBears

Punakha Dzong: One of the most beautiful dzongs in the country, site of all Bhutan king crownings and winter residence of the dragshang (official monk body). 

Rinpung Dzong: Known as the “Fortress of Heap of Jewels” and a collection of several treasured buildings. 

Simtokha Dzong: Ancient fortress along the old road from Paro to Phuentsholing and the oldest dzong to have survived as a complete structure. 

Tiger’s Nest: Bhutan’s most recognized spot, a small collection of buildings that cling to a cliffside almost 3,000 feet off the ground. 

Photo by Susan Tuckey, Penguins2PolarBears

And don’t miss these vistas and villages … 

  • Chele La Pass
  • Chomolhari

  • Dagala Thousand Lakes

  • Dochula Pass

    Photo by Susan Tuckey, Penguins2PolarBears


  • Druk Path

  • Gasa Tshachu

  • Haa Valley

  • Hidden Valleys of Bumthang

  • Lhuentse 

  • Mo Chhu River

  • Punakha Suspension Bridge

  • Talo Village 

  • Zuri Dzong Fort 

Ready to start planning your trip to Bhutan? Let's schedule a consultation so that I can learn more about you and your interests so that I can put together some options for you. Not ready yet but want to see more inspiration for future travels? Sign up for my weekly newsletter: