Bhutan | A Magellan Odyssey World Tour Destination

Bucket List Destinations | Backpacking Through Bhutan

September 30, 2022

Bhutan is the last Himalayan kingdom, a country shrouded in mysticism and covered in a magical landscape like the Snow Peak Mountains and shadowy forests. The unique and best thing about Bhutan is that it is covered by over 72% of forested area and is not only carbon free, but is the only country in the world that is carbon negative. 

Bhutan is a place where traditional Buddhist culture meets majestic fortresses like dzongs and monasteries, it is truly a magical and unforgettable destination just waiting to be explored

Bhutan, Bucket List Destinations | Backpacking Through Bhutan, by Art in Voyage, Luxury Destinations
Bhutan, Bucket List Destinations | Backpacking Through Bhutan, by Art in Voyage, Luxury Destinations
Bhutan, Bucket List Destinations | Backpacking Through Bhutan, by Art in Voyage, Luxury Destinations
Bhutan, Bucket List Destinations | Backpacking Through Bhutan, by Art in Voyage, Luxury Destinations
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What To See And Where To Go in Bhutan

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Thimphu

The city of Thimphu is nestled in the higher ranges of the Himalayas, and offers some of the most astonishing views of Bhutan’s emerald green forests, Raidack and the Chuu (River). 

As the capital of Bhutan, Thimphu is truly a must-visit. Many believe that the city has been blessed, with tourists filling the streets exploring the unique treasures of Bhutanese culture, cuisine and lifestyle. 

When visiting Thimphu, be sure to check out the Buddha Dordenma, Memorial Chorton, Dechencholing Palace, Clock Tower Square and Motithang Takin Preserve. Other places that might peak your interest include monasteries such as; Dechen Phodrang, Tango and Cheri. 

Thimphu also offers many charming cafes and bars as well as restaurants to socialize and meet like-minded explorers. 

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Paro

The peaceful serene atmosphere and clean air, surrounded by the unlevelled mountains, lush green fields and historical buildings make Paro the most popular location in Bhutan. 

While in the area, tourists get to explore the stunning dzongs such as Paro and Zuri, as well as other monasteries and palaces like Paro Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest Monastery), Pelri Goemba and Ugyen Pelri Palace. 

Other great places to see while in the area include temples, monuments and museums such as Bondey Lhakhang, Khangkhu Lhakhang, Tago Lhakhang, Druk Choeding and the National Museum. 

Paro is a town filled with captivating history. The atmosphere is peaceful and the way of life, slow-paced. 

Travel Tip: The city is best seen on foot!

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Punakha

Punakha is another breathtaking destination in Bhutan and is the ideal location for adventure seekers. A destination where you don’t only get to take in the picturesque views but also get to enjoy the adrenaline rush of river rafting in the two rivers – Mo and Pho. 

Punakha is most commonly known for the 17th century fortress Punakha Dzong which sits majestically beside the Pho and Mo Rivers. 

This Himalayan town plays host to masked dancers and musical performances during Punakha Tshechu – a religious festival of Bhutan. Many travel to Punakha to get a deeper understanding of the Bhutanese culture and heritage, and to take in the unbelievable divine beauty.

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What to Eat When in Bhutan

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Ema Datshi

Ema Datshi, which is chilies and cheese, is the most famous treat to come out of Bhutan. Locals say that there is a high possibility that you might eat ema datshi every day during your stay in Bhutan, and not because you’re forced to, but because you want to. 

The chilies, which can either be fresh green chilies or dry red chilies, are sliced lengthwise, and cooked with datshi, a local Bhutanese cheese, and of course, plenty of butter for good measure. 

Although the basic ingredients remain the same, the more you eat ema datshi, the more you’ll come to realize that no two ema datshi’s are the same – every cook has their own style, their own version, with some being lighter or more watery, while others are more rich and more sticky with cheese. 

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Kewa Datshi

If Kewa is made from potato, then Kewa Datshi is potatoes and Bhutanese cheese. Most travelers are surprised by how similar Kewa Datshi is to scalloped potatoes. 

The potatoes are prepared by first slicing them into thin pieces, then sautéed down with cheese and lots of butter. Sometimes cooks will toss in a few chilies or tomatoes, but usually, this is a Bhutanese dish that’s pretty mild, and mostly focuses on potatoes and cheese. 

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Shamu Datshi

If you’re a vegetarian and a chili lover, Shamu datshi, made from cheese and mushrooms, might certainly be the dish for you. 

The mushrooms, which can be any variety of local Bhutanese Himalayan mushroom, are cooked in a cheesy saucy stew along with butter. 

Food Tip: Just like with all the other variations of Bhutanese datshi, you eat shamu datshi along with rice. 

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Sikam paa

Do you love bacon? Well Sikam paa is sort of like bacon – but better! 

When visiting Bhutan you’ll easily be able to see the strands of half pork belly hanging in the sun to dry – that’s sikam. The pork, which has quite an impressive ratio of fat, is dried in the sun. For sikam paa, the dried pork belly is then fried with dried chilies. 

Many travelers admit that sikam paa might push your limits on oily foods, but a small piece at any meal, plus a bunch of dry chilies, is a recommended way to enjoy this Bhutanese treat. 

 

 

 

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Jasha maru

Jasha maru is a traditional Bhutanese chicken stew, with some calling it a chicken curry. One of the most enjoyable components of this dish is the noticeable taste of ginger, that nearly every version of the dish has to some degree. 

The actual dry spice flavor is rather mild, it is the taste of ginger that really gives this dish its essence. 

 

Loving Bhutan? Why not check out The Magellan Odyssey World Tour, where we visit this incredible location along with nine other countries on five different continents. 

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Where To Stay in Bhutan

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Deluxe Camping In The Wind (Punakha, Gangtey and Bumthang)

One of the most intense ways to experience the staggering beauty of Bhutan’s majestic landscapes is to camp out in the Himalayan Kingdom’s most remote corners. 

Under the guidance of the experienced team at ‘Guides of Bhutan’, travelers can fully enjoy the pristine wilderness on Nordic tipi-based adventures, without compromising on comfort or delicious food. Each spacious walk-in tipi is very well-appointed and comes complete with a wood burning stove, traditional rugs and solar powered lighting. 

Walking up to snow-covered peaks, wild streams, and blue pine forests gives a true sense of off-the-beaten track adventure. 

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Taj Tashi (Thimphu)

Nestled in the heart of Bhutan’s capital lies the captivating and beautiful Taj Tashi, the gateway to a magical land brimming with fascinating mythology. Staying true to Bhutan’s ancient and alluring ways, Taj Tashi enchantingly blends Dzong architecture and modern design, and is adorned with classical hand-drawn Buddhist murals. 

The 66 spacious rooms and suites overlook the mountains and town, and capture the essence of Bhutanese art and architecture. Two restaurants, a tea lounge, bar and spa focus on a different aspect of Bhutan’s vibrant Mahayana Buddhist culture. 

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Zhiwa Ling Ascent (Thimphu)

Set among the tall cypress trees, Zhiwa Ling Ascent – Bhutan’s first contemporary concept hotel – was conceived by an Austrian architect and realized through a joint collaboration between Bhutanese and Austrian project planners. 

The hotel features 20 in total, and has been designed to be the most energy efficient manner which has the quality to capture all the natural sunlight. 

All rooms provide stunning panoramic views of nature and the valley. The hotel’s ingenious restaurant offers fine dining experience with flavors straight from the organic kitchen garden. 

 

Ready to explore Bhutan? Click here to view our Exclusive Journey experience, or check out our Curated Journey’s Catalog where we travel to some of the most bespoke destinations that luxury travel has to offer.