Bhutan has much to offer and you can do a lot while in the country. Here, we, at Little Bhutan, present six bucket list activities that you should definitely try when in Bhutan. However, if all of these are not in your travel plan, we recommend that you at least make time for three – mountain bike, try emadatshi, and play archery!
If you thought biking was relatively easy, wait till you try it at the highest level and across some of the highest mountain passes in the world – where the high rising ridges almost kiss the skies and where you literally ride among the clouds. If you have an inclination towards adventure sports then mountain biking is one sport you should most certainly try in Bhutan. The rugged terrain and serpentine roads winding across various climatic zones make this sport not only challenging but also exciting and full of adrenalin.
Try Ema Datshi
This hot and spicy dish made with chilies and cheese is a national favorite. Of course, you are aware that in Bhutan, chili isn’t a spice or condiment but a vegetable. So, when in Bhutan, be experimental enough and relish this fiery dish – who knows, you might even acquire a taste for it. The ema datshi was even prepared with mushrooms and served as the main course at an Obama fundraiser at the Ruben Museum in New York in 2012.
Archery is the national game of Bhutan. Teams compete with each other trying to hit wooden targets 140 meters apart. Archery in Bhutan, unlike anywhere else, is fun because apart from invoking the deities it is the only sport in the world where alcohol flows freely during the game. Played both with traditional bamboo bows and imported compound bows, it is a must for any visitor. So, man up, and give it your best shot! If you miss, you can always blame it on the booze.
Hike up to the Tiger’s Nest
If you are in Bhutan and have not visited the Tiger’s Nest monastery, your trip is incomplete. The Tiger’s Nest is without a doubt the most visited and the most photographed of all the monuments in Bhutan. Nestled on the edge of a 3,120m-tall cliff, above a beautiful forest of blue pine and rhododendrons, overlooking the Paro valley, the monastery is of tremendous religious significance to the Bhutanese. Legend has it that Guru Rinpoche flew to this site on the back of a tigress to subdue a local demon. Thereafter, he meditated here for three years, three months and three hours. It was here that Buddhism took roots in Bhutan. The monastery was built in 1692 to honor and worship the Guru. The hike up to the Tiger’s Nest is give-or-take a two-hour ascent and, the view from the top, is well worth the climb.
Visit Tang Mebartsho
Legend has it that in order to convince skeptics and cynics, Terton Pema Lingpa, a treasure revealer, jumped into a lake with a burning butter lamp in his hand. When he emerged from the water, he did so with sacred treasures hidden by Guru Rinpoche and the butter lamp ‘still burning.’ The freshwater lake which is located in Tang in Bumthang was therefore called Mebartsho or the burning lake. The name itself should entice you to visit it, and if you do, you won’t be disappointed at all, not one bit.