In this introduction to Bhutan adventure travel we look at visiting the country and what activities you can do. We also take a look at one of the countries most popular attractions the Tiger’s Nest Monastery.
Lying on the eastern slopes of the mighty Himalayas, Bhutan is sandwiched between India and China. It is a country steeped in myths and legends, with a culture and history unique to this landlocked Asian nation.
Until relatively recently, Bhutan adventure holidays were relatively unknown and low-key. The country itself led a fairly isolated life, only opening its doors to foreign visitors in 1974, and only introducing television and the internet in 1999.
Even though the country is now open to tourists, the government has made a concerted effort to try to curb potential damage caused by unlimited tourism. So travel and tourist activities are carefully restricted and controlled.
This has led to the unique preservation of the country’s landscape and historical sights. It also means that any visitors that do enter the country can expect a real and authentic taste of Bhutan.
So what kind of adventures can you get up to in Bhutan?
Bhutan is one of those countries that is begging to be explored. So most visits have an element of overland touring and can include multiple activities. Below are the best adventure activities in Bhutan. Plus a few ideas of where to try them:
Being in the Himalayas you would expect mountaineering to be popular in Bhutan. However, in 1994 the climbing of peaks higher than 6,000m in Bhutan was prohibited out of respect for local spiritual beliefs. Furthermore, in 2003 mountaineering was completely forbidden.
As the main religion, Buddhism has been hugely influential on moulding the culture and landscape of Bhutan. The country has some of the most spectacular Buddhist sites in the world, including the breathtaking Taktsang Palphug Monastery.
Known in English as The Tiger’s Nest. The monastery is perched on a cliff side 900m above the Paro valley, around an hour’s drive from the capital Thimphu.
The temple complex was built in the late 17th century. It’s constructed around a cave in which Tibetan Guru Padmasambhava – the man credited with bringing Buddhism to Bhutan – had spent over three years in meditation.
Today the site is made up of four main temples and a residential building. Many of the structures have been built into the cliff face, utilising the natural ledges and caves, and appear to cling precariously to the side of the cliff.
Inside the complex are several other structures, as well as items of unique cultural and historical significance to the people of Bhutan.
Because there are only a limited number of visitors to the country, Bhutan adventure travel and excursions are normally pre-arranged. It is not really a country you can just turn up to and explore in your own way.
The good news is even if you don’t book through a Bhutanese tour operator the guides are likely to be local. A trip to Bhutan will be unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. Giving you a precious glimpse into a fascinating and timeless culture that has mostly avoided being ruined by outside influences.
We hope that after reading about Bhutan that you would like to visit! If so check out these adventure companies in Bhutan to help plan your trip.