Travel, Teach, Live in Asia
Tourists are allowed to visit the Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan only through a registered travel company, and government regulations specify that all travelers to Bhutan must spend a minimum of $200 per day. In general you can find a tour that includes everything except drinks and trinkets for the daily minimum. There are many tour operators you can choose from; the two biggest operators are Bhutan Tourism Corporation Limited (kingdomofbhutan.com) and Etho Metho (bhutanethometho.com). Before signing up for a group tour or arranging your itinerary with a guide, think about what attractions and regions you would like to visit.
Bumthang Valley, located in central Bhutan, provides traditional Bhutanese architecture and ancient Buddhist temples. "The Castle of the White Bird" and seventh century monastery, Jambey Lhakhang, are often among tour stops. Coordinate your trip so you can attend a festival in Bumthang and take a hike through the terraced hills. Festival season generally runs from late April through late December. Other travel attractions in Bumthang Valley include two more monasteries - Kurje Lhakhang and Tamshing Lhakhang - and Jakar Dzong, a 16th century fort that now serves as an administrative building.
Paro is a frequent stop for those on Bhutan's tourist trail, although when you arrive at the tiny town you may wonder why. Here you can visit Paro's National Museum, which houses Buddhist relics and medieval weaponry. Stroll through early Buddhist sites and check out temples built at as early as the seventh century. The natural attractions of the area include the Paro River, bird watching and hiking. Visitors can buy handicrafts before trekking or riding a mule up the steep path to Taktshang Lhakhang, a monastery known as "Tiger's Nest" due to its precipitous location at the top of a cliff.
Thimphu is the only capital city in the world without traffic lights. The capital is located in a valley in the western part of the country, a few hours' drive from Paro. Places to visit in Thimphu include the fortress Trashi Chloe Dzong, Memorial Chorten and the National Institute of Traditional Medicine.
If you are in Thimphu on the weekend, check out the city market. While exploring the tourist sights of Thimphu, keep in mind that littering is illegal in the Bhutanese capital and violators face a heavy fine.