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A first timer’s guide to exploring Bhutan – Land of the Thunder Dragon

Exploring Bhutan, often referred to as the “Land of the Thunder Dragon,” is a unique experience that offers stunning natural landscapes, rich culture, and a deep sense of spirituality. Here’s a first-timer’s guide to making the most of your trip to Bhutan:

Before You Go:

Visa and Permits: Bhutan requires all visitors (except citizens of India, Bangladesh, and the Maldives) to obtain a visa and book their trip through a licensed Bhutanese tour operator. They will arrange your visa and necessary permits.

Best Time to Visit: The ideal time to visit Bhutan is during the spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) seasons when the weather is pleasant and the skies are clear.

Booking Your Trip: Plan your trip well in advance and book through a licensed tour operator. They will organize your itinerary, accommodation, transportation, and permits.

Getting There:

Flight: Paro International Airport is the only international airport in Bhutan. Druk Air (Bhutan’s national airline) and Bhutan Airlines operate flights to Paro from select cities like Delhi, Kathmandu, Bangkok, and Singapore.

Overland Entry: If you’re coming from India, you can enter Bhutan via land through the border town of Phuentsholing.

During Your Stay:

Explore Thimphu

Bhutan’s capital city is a blend of tradition and modernity. Visit Tashichho Dzong, the National Memorial Chorten, the Giant Buddha Statue, and the Folk


Visit Paro

Paro: Taktsang Monastery

Paro is home to the iconic Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest), perched on a cliffside. It’s a must-visit attraction but requires a steep hike.

Experience Bhutanese Culture

Attend a traditional Bhutanese festival or Tsechu if your visit coincides with one. Witness colorful masked dances, traditional music, and rituals.

Bhutanese Culture

Explore Punakha

Punakha Dzong

Visit Punakha Dzong, the most beautiful dzong in Bhutan, located at the confluence of the Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu rivers.

Nature and Wildlife

Explore Bhutan’s natural beauty by visiting places like the Phobjikha Valley, known for its black-necked cranes, or the Bumthang Valley for its pristine landscapes.

Nature and Wildlife

Try Bhutanese Cuisine

Sample Bhutanese dishes like Ema Datshi (chili and cheese stew), Phaksha Paa (pork with chili peppers), and Momos (dumplings).

Respect Local Customs: Bhutan is deeply rooted in its culture and traditions. Respect local customs, dress modestly, and ask for permission before taking photos, especially in religious sites.


Altitude Sickness: Be mindful of altitude sickness, especially in places like Paro and Thimphu. Take it easy, stay hydrated, and acclimatize gradually.

Pack Accordingly: Pack layers as the weather can vary throughout the day, and don’t forget essentials like sunscreen, insect repellent, and sturdy hiking shoes.

Cash: Credit cards are not widely accepted, so carry enough cash (preferably in the local currency, Ngultrum) for your expenses.

Respect the Environment: Bhutan takes pride in its pristine environment. Respect nature, avoid littering, and follow designated trails during hikes.

Exploring Bhutan offers a journey unlike any other, immersing you in a land of ancient traditions, breathtaking landscapes, and genuine hospitality. Enjoy your adventure in this enchanting Himalayan kingdom!