"Happiness is not something readymade. It comes from your own actions” - Dalai Lama
This quaint Himalayan kingdom is often underestimated by travelers as a three-four days’ conventional itinerary. However, you will be surprised to know the amazing opportunities this land-locked country has to offer! Holistic pleasures form the crux of this nation’s propaganda and so we have for you a list of holistic things to do in Bhutan, for you to experience the essence of the Buddhist kingdom.
1. Stone bath
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Widely practiced in Bhutan, the hot stone bath is a method to overcome various complications and illnesses. Many places in Bhutan have at least one spot to perform this rejuvenating procedure. Beginning with, gathering fire woods from the nearby forest, before the actual bath, followed by collecting stones. These are then piled up and burnt, till the stones turn red hot. Then a wooden bathtub is filled with Menchu, water with medicinal properties, and some Artemisia leaves. The best part - They pitch tents to shelter them from the rain, the sun and from the cold in winters. The practice is concluded with a wholesome nutritious meal! If you are super inclined to try this, while in Bhutan, just ask around for the places that offer the stone bath.
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As one of the last strongholds of Vajrayana Buddhism, meditation, and meditation retreats are very prevalent in Bhutan, with small retreat centers and hermitages located all over the country (usually next to temples, monasteries, and monastic schools). Providing a respite from the cares and stress of everyday life, this is one of the most holistic things to do in Bhutan! Draw upon your inner self and meditate upon the purpose of life.
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The Bhutanese landscapes are magnificently wondrous and give you a chance to take the off beaten track. About 80% of the landscape in Bhutan is covered by forests, thus giving you the opportunity to get bewildered in complete wilderness as you come across various vegetation zones. Short soothing walks to high altitude treks, Bhutan has a hike/trek for all. Keep in mind, the best season for trekking in Bhutan is spring and autumn- March to April and late September to mid-November.
4. Visiting cafes/pubs with good music scene
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Thimpu has an abundance of places to just chill, linger around with co-travelers at a good music scene. Some of the best cafes and pubs are Benez bar, Om bar, Mojo park and the Ambient café. Most of these cafes and pubs are quaint and cozy, playing great music where you will spot other travelers and a few locals. Try the local cuisine dishes of - Ema Datshi (chilies and cheese), Jasha Maroo or Maru (spicy chicken), Phaksha Paa (Pork with Red Chilies), red rice and my favorite, momos (dumplings)! After all, a good food indulgence is holistic!
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The Bhutan travel bureau actually has an entire itinerary steered only for cycling! Paro, Thimphu, Punakha and Trongsa are great routes for a cycling adventure in Bhutan. Bhutan’s mountainous terrain are certainly a fascinating adventure for cycling enthusiasts. The roads wind up and down mountains with exhilarating drops of thousands of meters, and of course the challenge of surmounting equally high passes! Cycling through mixed forests, pasturelands, and valleys dotted with villages rich in culture will leave you with a one of its kind holistic experience.
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The country’s sacred rivers, offer a gentle drift-down-the-river, as you admire the scenery of some of the most sacred Buddhist sites in the world. Running a few small yet exciting rapids, The Pho Chu and the Mo Chu rivers are the most popular rafting routes. Drifting past imposing 17th century Punakha Dzong, which is a fort cum monastery, watching one of the world’s rarest bird - the white-bellied Heron in its natural habitat and Kingfishers frolicking on the riverbanks - all this topped off with spectacular sights of serene lush green alpine valleys, are some of the most amazing experiences you would love to treasure for the rest of your life.
7. Witnessing dance and some very interesting festivals
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Bhutan has so many festivals, small and big that it really is a little difficult to get a lowdown of all. But here we cover most popular ones. The Tshechu is a religious event celebrated on the tenth day of a month of the lunar calendar corresponding to the birthday of Guru Rimpoche (Guru Padmasambhava). However, the exact month of the Tshechu may vary from place to place and temple to temple. When in Bhutan, you must not miss attending a Tshechu to witness the mask dances in order to receive blessings and wash away your sins, as per local belief. Jomolhari Mountain Festival, Monggar Tshechu and the Nimalung festival are other popular festivals. However, what really interested me was the Jampa Lhakhang fertility festival! Indeed, you will be enlightened seeing these practices.
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Being the national sport of the country, you cannot miss trying your hand at archery on your visit here. The fact that you need to focus, is a holistic thing altogether. Being culturally distinctive, archery forms vary from location to location. Bhutanese people from different social strata find archery one of the most enjoyable sports, as it is both fun and physical exercise. In addition, archery builds concentration, which contributes to mental development; according to a Bhutanese proverb, both sailing and archery require intelligence. Thus, it's not surprising that archery in Bhutan is a way of socialization, communication, and development of relations between people.
There you have it, some of the best holistic things to do Bhutan, that will leave you another perspective about life, perhaps! Plan a trip to Bhutan with TripHobo trip planner