Welcome to the Kingdom of Bhutan. Bhutan, also known as the last Shangri La and the Land of Thunder Dragon is perhaps the most unknown but fascinating travel destination left. Though the original name from the time of Marco Polo was 'Bootan,' the natives prefer to call their country 'Druk Yul,' or the Land of the Peaceful Thunder Dragon. Since ages great saints, mystics and scholars have blessed this beautiful country nestled in the majestic Himalayas with cultural and spiritual legacy. The culture and traditional lifestyle is still richly intact and it permeates all strands of modern day secular life. This is perhaps what attracts many to take a tours of Bhutan. From the traditional woven garments to the prayer flags on high mountain slopes, from the built environment to the natural environment, from the religious mask dances to the folk dances, this cultural heritage is proudly evident and offers a unique cultural setting. The Royal kingdom offers three regions to the tourists. These three regions are distinctly different due to prominent north, south mountain ranges that separate each area resulting in different topographical features.
Western Bhutan is comprised of the Haa Valley at 8860 ft. (recently opened to limited travel), Paro Valley at 7200 ft., Thimphu at 7500 ft. the Punakha Valley and Wangdue Phodrang at 4200 ft., separated by high passes or "La(s)": Cheli La (3988m, 13,084ft.), Dochu La (3050m, 10,007ft.), Pele La (3300m, 10,825ft, separates Western from Central). Western Bhutan is known for its stunning scenery with rice paddies and orchards cascading down magnificent mountains, the pristine rivers that flow through the main towns of Paro, Thimphu and Punakha, and unique two-story houses with brightly painted window designs. The Black Mountains separate Western Bhutan from Central Bhutan.
Thimpu is Capital to the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, which is a wonderful city to tour. Thimpu is perhaps the smallest capital in the world. A tour of Thimpu is like a visit to the gallery of traditional Bhutanese art, architecture, culture, and tradition. Thimpu lies in a sylvan valley, on a hillside on the bank of the river by the same name. On your tours of Thimpu, you will find an interesting fact about the city. It is the only world capital without any traffic lights! The Trashi Chhoe Dzong or the fortress of Glorious Religion, and the Memorial Chorten are some of the old sites worth a visit. Among the modern attractions that you can tour include, the School of Arts and Crafts, the Weekend market, the Changlimithang Stadium, and the National Institute of Traditional Medicine.
Paro is situated in the Paro Valley of Eastern Himalayas. This town is full of legends, heroism, and natural splendor. However, the capital of Bhutan is Thimphu, but for a longer time of the history, Paro had the control of this part of the country. The Rimpung Dzong or Paro Dzong stands on a hillside above the gently meandering Paro River. The Ta dzong is an ancient watchtower where the National Museum has been housed. The National Museum and the famous Taktshang Monastery are both located here. Kyichu Iyakhang, one of the holiest temples of Bhutan lies 8 km from Paro. The Taktsang (Tiger's Nest) is a pilgrimage place that every Bhutanese tries to visit at least once in a lifetime. Phobjika is a glacial valley that has been designated as conservation area. It lies on the borders of the Black Mountain National Park that is one of the most important wildlife preserves in Bhutan. The rare, endangered black-necked cranes that have a special place in Bhutanese folklore roost here in the winters. Tourists can view their roosting places with permission from relevant authorities on their tours of Bhutan. Barking deer, wild boars, leopards, Himalayan black bears and red foxes are some of the animals that live here. The Satkeng Wildlife Sanctuary is also located nearby.Central region includes Trongsa and the rich broad valleys of Bumthang including Chumey, Choekhar, Tang and Ura valleys. The passes crossed are Yotang La (3400m, 11,155ft.) Shertang La (3573m, 11,723ft) and Thrumshing La (3800m, 12,465ft.).
Central Bhutan is known for its buckwheat and apple production, its sturdy stone houses, and its plethora of monasteries. It is the ideal place for walking due to its broad valleys and sloping mountains. The beauty of the Bumthang valleys is legendary. It is the spiritual heartland of Bhutan, where the most ancient and precious Buddhist sites are located, which you can visit on your Bhutan tour. It is the home to the most important dzongs, temples and palaces. Wangdichholing Palace, the residence of the former king, Ugyen Wangchuk; the temple of Jambey Lhakang, the sacred cave of Kurjey Lhakang; and the largest Bhutanese dzong, Jakar, are some of the tourist places that your can tour. The eastern region comprises Mongar, Lhuentse, Trashigang and Trashi Yangste. Sengor Valley separates Central from Eastern Bhutan. After Thrumshing La, passes crossed are Kori La (2400m), Yongphu La (2190m) and Narphung La (1698) at much lower altitudes than Western and Central. Lying in the centre of Bhutan, Trongsa is of great importance in the history of Bhutan. Both His Majesty King Ugyen Wangchuck, and his successor, King Jigme Wangchuck, ruled the country from Trongsa's ancient dzong. The present King continued this tradition when he was appointed Trongsa Penlop in 1972 shortly before he ascended the throne of Bhutan. Trongsa Dzong is an awe-inspiring and impregnable fortress. It has a labyrinth of temples, corridors and offices holding court over the local community. Trongsa is one of the quaintest and most charming of all Bhutanese towns. Its vista is traditional in appearance with wooden slatted houses lining the side of the hill.
Eastern Bhutan is known for its stunning hand-loomed textiles and the weavers are all masters of the supplementary weft-weave technique. Eastern Bhutan is the least traveled area of the country and here many of the kingdom's most ancient spiritual sights are found. One of the most spectacular drives in Bhutan is the 20 km stretch between Sengor and Namning in East Bhutan. Huge cascading waterfalls, endless turns and frequent fogs make for exhilarating travel. Travelers pass citrus groves in the relatively mild climate at Lingmithang, only an hour after being immersed in pine forest, dropping through 6,562 feet of ice and snow. The wild east of the Bhutanese kingdom can be explored from Punakha, Trashigang, Wangdue Phodrang and Gangtey Gompa, which are some of the favoritetouristsites.