TOP THINGS TO DO IN BHUTAN
Bhutan has always been among the countries to be on the top of everyone’s travel list for as long as we can remember. But what exactly can you do here other than trekking and going on cultural tours? Here are list of the top things to try when you are in Bhutan in 2020.
1. Go to Eastern Bhutan
Bhutan’s road-less-traveled is eastern Bhutan. The simplicity of eastern Bhutanese people, rugged terrains, unexplored festivals and trek routes make eastern Bhutan the most sought-after region in Bhutan. Semi-nomadic twin villages of Merak and Sakten, rich textile weaving cultures of Lhuntse, raw silk in Radhi villages and wood works of Trashiyangtse makes the east worth exploring.
2. Rafting and Mountain Biking
River rafting is becoming increasingly popular because of the many rivers in Bhutan, ranging from turbulent alpine rivulets to staid wide sub-tropical rivers. These adventures offer splendid views of fortresses and people going about their daily lives with towns and villages located alongside the rivers. From the basic to beyond dangerous rafting experiences, Bhutan offers it all.
Several new routes have been developed on ancient mule tracks that make mountain biking a wonderful experience in Bhutan. Just traversing Bhutan’s lateral highway is an exhilarating adventure in itself. Fresh air, limited traffic and the scenic beauty of the routes make mountain biking an exhilarating way to enjoy Bhutan.
3. Try Ema Datse and Butter Tea
Chilli and cheese are essential ingredients in Bhutanese cuisine. A curry conjured up with Chilli and Cheese locally known as “ema datse” is worth tasting. A meal of red rice, dried beef and ema datse is the staple diet of Bhutanese and will excite your taste buds with delicious flavours.
Suja or the butter tea is one of the specialities in Bhutanese recipes. Butter tea is served in all occasions with other traditional meals. Traditional tea leaves is boiled in water, churned in a bamboo churner with fresh cow or yak butter and salt. It bears a buttery salt taste. Yes, you heard right, a salty tea!
4. Farmhouse visit, traditional dinner and hot stone bath
One of the best ways to experience Bhutanese way of life is to visit a farmhouse. Farmhouses are simple structures made up of locally available mud, timber and stones with distinct Bhutanese wood designs and paintings. Time your visit with a dinner and a hot stone bath. Hot stone bath is an ancient way of healing common ailments such has body aches, wounds and stomach diseases. Certain types of stones are heated until red hot in fire built by wood, its then put inside a tub containing cold water. You will dip into the warm to hot water, and take a nap as you feel your body muscles relax.
5. Hiking and Trekking
Hiking and Trekking are very popular in Bhutan because it allows the traveler to get off the beaten track and into the wondrous Bhutanese landscape. Just imagine wandering through a wilderness with a diversity of flora and fauna that has led to Bhutan being declared one of 10 global hot spots for environmental conservation. Treks range from short soothing walks through terraced fields and idyllic hamlets to some of the most arduous high altitude treks.
6. Craft Bazaar and Weekend Market
Opposite to Taj Tashi is a long line of temporary huts made of bamboo mats. It should be interesting to check these handicraft stores as they sell genuine Bhutanese art works.
If it’s a weekend you can visit the vegetable market, which is locally known as the centenary farmer’s market. Locals from as far as Paro, Punakha and Wangdue come here to sell their farm produce. It offers wonderful opportunity for photography. The lower floor houses red rice and other grains as well as dry fish, fruits and vegetables. The upper floor contains Bhutanese incense, local vegetables, betel nuts, dried meats, cheese and butter. If you crossing the bridge on to the other side you will find handicrafts and imported garments.
7. Bar hopping in Thimphu
Thimphu, the only capital city in the world without traffic lights is a must-see place. It’s a unique city with mix of both traditional and modernism. Visit bars, karaoke bars and discos to get an insight to Bhutanese inclination to different cultures. Also explore the little outskirts of the city which will take you to the life of rural settings.
8. Gho, Kira and Archery
The national costumes, Gho for men and Kira for women are fascinating attires in Bhutan. It’s similar but different to ones worn by Tibetans. Gho is a knee-length robe resembling a Scottish kilt. It’s tied at the waist by a traditional belt made of cotton weave.
Kira, an ankle-length dress is a woven fabric. The rectangular piece is wrapped and folded around the body and pinned at both shoulders, usually with silver brooches. It’s then tied at the waist with a long belt. Its worn with tego, sort of like a jacket.
9. Chit Chatting with Locals
“A night Guest is like a God” is an old Bhutanese saying. Foreigners are treated like guests in Bhutan. You can talk to locals – especially if you happen to chat with children, you will get information about them, their school and their families. Talking to seniors will provide insight into Bhutanese way of life, cultures, challenges and transitions.
10. Try Bhutanese alcohols
Bhutan produces one of the best beers and whiskies in the world. Druk 11000, Lager, Red Panda are best that can nourish your taste buds. Special Courier, Highland and K5 are good whisky brands. Try some locally produced fermented rice wine, Ara, to get the taste of Bhutanese alcohol.