Bhutan is no ordinary place. It is the last great Himalayan kingdom, shrouded in mystery and magic, where a traditional Buddhist culture carefully embraces global developments. Bhutan holds many surprises. This is a country where the rice is red and where chilies aren't just a seasoning but the main dish. It's also a deeply Buddhist land, where monks check their smart phones after performing a divination, and where giant protective penises are painted beside the entrance to many houses. Yet while it visibly protects its Buddhist traditions, Bhutan is not a museum. You will find the Bhutanese well educated, fun loving and well informed about the world around them. It's this blending of the ancient and modern that makes Bhutan endlessly fascinating. On the roof of the world, shoe horned into the grand Himalaya, Bhutan, the thunder Dragon, is a fiercely independent kingdom. With an area slightly larger than Switzerland, there are only about 600,000 people. The name Bhutan appears to derive from the ancient Indian term "Bhotanta" which means the end of land of the Bhots, it could also extend from the Sanskrit word Bhu'uttan or highland. Bhutan is a land-locked country surrounded by mountains in north and west. The rugged east, visited by few Western travelers, the high Himalaya in the northern steppes separates the kingdom from Tibet.
Spring is the most beautiful time of the year in the kingdom. The fierce cold that characterizes the winter months tends to subside towards the end February (around Bhutanese New Year, Lhosar). At the height of spring, the end of March, the whole kingdom comes to life with the spectacular flaming red, pink and white of Rhododendron blossom.
Bhutan manages to retain all the charm of the old world. Like timeless images from the past, the traveler encounters the full glory of this ancient land through its strategic monastic fortresses known as Dzongs, numerous ancient temples, monasteries and stupas which dot the countryside, prayer flags which flutter along the high ridges, wild animals which abundant in the dense forest, foamy white water falls which are like the real showers, and warm smiles of its friendly people.
Whether you arrive by air at the dramatic, mountain-bound Paro valley or by road at steamy Phuentsholing, it soon becomes clear that you have arrived at a special destination. Prayer flags flutter from nearly every rooftop, men and women dress in traditional garb, chortens and stupas decorate river and road junctions, and fortress-like monasteries command mountain tops. The western circuit comprises of the six western Districts in the country that includes Thimphu, Paro, Haa, Wangdue Phodrang, Punakha and Gasa. What makes this circuit special is that the Tourism Council of Bhutan has categorized new ways of exploring the existing great sights.
In this circuit you can attend the summer festival of Haa and delve into the wonders of the ancient living culture of the Haaps (People from Haa). The festival highlights Shamanic rituals and other folk dances. You may also enjoy the beauty of rare Himalayan flowers in bloom or take a daring trek to Nob Tsonapatra, immersing you in the interesting legends of the area.
The west is the region of Bhutan that most tourists see and for good reason. It's the heartland of the Drukpa people and is home to the major airport, the capital, the most popular festivals and the most spectacular dzongs (fort-monasteries) in the kingdom. Throw in the trekking, the scope to get off the beaten track and the minimal driving times, and the appeal is obvious.
Central Bhutan is an exciting destination for all visitors. It includes some of the most significant historical and religious sites in the country. The district of Trongsa has always been of great political importance to the leaders of Bhutan due to its commanding location in the center of the nation while Bumthang district has some of the most ancient and important temples and monasteries in Bhutan.
Some of the important landmarks in central Bhutan are: Kurje Lhakhang built in 1652 at the site where the great Buddhist saint Guru Rimpoche meditated. Tamshing Lhakhang, the great religious treasure revealer Terton Pema Lingpa built dating back to 1501. Mebar Tsho: A sacred lake from which Terton Pema Lingpa discovered religious treasures hidden by Guru Rimpoche.
Central Bhutan is a region blessed with great natural beauty and there are miles of pristine alpine and sub-tropical broadlead forests teeming with all manner of flora and fauna. The Thrumshingla National Park is located in this region and is famous for the many rare and endangered birds that inhabit it including the Rufous necked hornbill, Rufous-throated wren-babbler, Satyr Tragopan, Beautiful nuthatch, Ward’s trogon and Chestnut-breasted partridge..
Eastern Bhutan is one of the least explored regions of the kingdom and offers one of most authentic experiences for adventure-oriented tourists. The entire region is awash in unspoiled natural beauty, towering cliffs and pristine forests with great variations in altitude and climatic conditions.
In addition to the regular Buddhist festivals, travellers to Eastern Bhutan will be able to experience some of the country’s most ancient spiritual practices while observing Animistic and Bon religious rituals. The lush, breathtaking environments of the eastern region make it a perfect location for day hikes or longer treks. Accommodations in this rural area are a bit more Spartan than other parts of country but with the option to either camp out beneath an ocean of stars or experience the unbridled warmth and hospitality of the locals during a home stay you’ll never miss the comforts of your hotel room.The Eastern circuit includes the districts of Mongar, Lhuntse, Tashi Yangtse, Tashigang and Samdrup Jongkhar. Each moment is special as one discovers a country which the people have chosen to preserve in its magical purity. From Gross National Happiness to crazy wisdom, a journey to Bhutan is a journey into a different reality.