Bhutan is one of the most mysterious countries in the world, which has only recently become available for tourism. A fantastic country, which lies at the heart of the Eastern Himalayas, is barely affected by the passage of time. It used to be in almost complete isolation from the outside world for centuries. The very name of the country, Bhutan, can be translated from Sanskrit as 'the margin of Tibet'. Since 1974, Bhutan has been a cherished dream for many travelers. Located away from busy roads, this country remains a quiet haven of the greatest supporters of Buddhism. Some of the ancient world's forests and unique flora and fauna are preserved here, and totally wild landscape is broken only by enormous fortified monasteries, famous for their architecture and unique traditions. The Bhutanese themselves are open and hospitable. They are not spoiled by the modern world and carefully preserve their unique culture.

mountain nest monastery

Thimphu, the capital of the country, is situated in a beautiful wooded valley. Its population is less than 50 thousand people. Thimphu, perhaps, is the most unusual capital city in the world and one of the most ancient capitals in the world. This is the only capital in the world without traffic lights, and one of the few which are totally free from the ultra-modern buildings of glass and concrete. The entire architecture of Thimphu is built according to the centuries-old traditions of local architects. Towering spires give the town a charming medieval character.

Dominating the skyline, there stands an impressive Tashi Cho Dzong, known as 'the fortress of the blessed religion'. It is the symbol and pride of the capital. This vast monastery had previously played an important role in the defense and cultural life of the capital, but now it is the territory of the palace of the High Llamas and the royal residence. The National Library located here has an extensive collection of ancient manuscripts, considered the best collection of religious and historical literature in the Himalayas. The National Institute of Traditional Medicine is interesting as one of the greatest centers of traditional medicine in the Himalayas.

Among other attractions of the capital city one can mention the Royal School of Art, the National Textile Museum, the Art School Thangka and many other cultural institutions. The picturesque streets of the city are noteworthy themselves. Here, one can wander for hours among the low-rise buildings, each of which is carefully decorated with traditional motifs. Across the city, one can find many shops selling local handicrafts and textiles. Changlimithang National Stadium is the main venue for the competitions in archery, the national sport.

Just some kilometers from the capital, there is a majestic Phajoding monastery built in the 13th century, with a viewing platform which offers a beautiful view of the capital and the neighborhood. Cheri Monastery is located almost on the outskirts of the capital and is famous for its picturesque architecture.

The city of Paro is the air gate of the country and the center of a vast and fertile valley, widely known for its scenic picturesque villages and an abundance of historical buildings, ranging from the numerous monasteries to many intricately carved residential houses. The main attraction of Paro is a unique monastery, Taksang, lying on top of a cliff. Other noteworthy places in Paro include Bhutan National Museum of the Ta-Dzong, located in the ancient tower, the crumbling fortified monastery, the palace of the Queen Mother, Paro Dzong and Rinchen Pung Dzong monasteries.

The ancient capital of Bhutan, Punakha, lies in the eastern part of the country in the homonymous valley formed by the river Punakha. The main attraction of the city is a unique temple complex, known as the Palace of Great Happiness.

Interested in visiting Bhutan? See the list of Bhutan travel agents to get assistance in preparing your trip. For other, more specific needs, see Bhutan tour operators, who can help purchase a local flight or book a hotel room.