We’ve always wanted to go to Bhutan; it has been on our bucket list for as long as we can remember. However when we were daydreaming about travelling there the other day, we realised we didn’t really know much about this gorgeous Himalayan kingdom.

So, to rectify that we did some research and came up with five reasons we, and you {but mostly us}, should visit Bhutan when you get the chance.

Taktsang Palphug Monastery

Taktshang

You’ve probably seen images of the Taktsang Palphug Monastery, known casually as the Tiger’s Nest, before and not realised what you’re looking at. The famous temple complex is literally nestled in the clouds, is built into the mountainside a cool 3,000 metres up.

Built in the eighth century, Tiger’s Nest is a cultural icon in Bhutan, and is considered one of the most sacred Buddhist sites in the Himalayas. This spectacular site makes Bhutan worth visiting all by itself.

Thimphu

Thimphu

We know mentioning the capital of a country is a little clichéd, but we love the look of the charming Thimphu city. Comfortably placed at the foot of a valley, the capital city of Bhutan is packed with local culture, religion, custom and architecture and is the official seat of the king.

There are many sites to visit within the city, chief among them being the massive Tashichho Dzong {a Buddhist monastery and fortress} located at the northern edge of the city. Other highlights include exploring the bright, colourful bazaars of the city and the Memorial Chorten, a huge stupa.

Bhutanese Cuisine

ema-datshi

From the little Bhutanese food we’ve had, we’ve absolutely loved it. Bhutanese love chillies, so if you’re not into spicy food, then be careful. Everyone, of course, knows and loves momo {which are usually filled with beef or pork in Bhutan}, but we’re excited to try some other delicacies.

Chief among these will be Ema Datchi, a chillies and cheese dish, that can best be described as a cheese-based stew. It will come piping hot, and have crunchy chillies. Others include Jasha Maru, a spicy chicken dish, and Phaksha Paa, pork with chillies. We love spice, we love stews, and we can’t wait for Bhutanese food.

Chimi Lhakhang Monastery

Image courtesy - Justgola

Image courtesy – Justgola

Okay we admit this might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but when we heard about this temple of fertility we knew we’re going to visit. We’ve never before seen such a unique site, decorated with colourful phalluses and traditional artwork. Dragons and penises intermingling on a wall is something we have to see with our own eyes.

We even heard the tradition at the temple is to strike pilgrims on the head {gently} with a 10-inch wooden phallus {this we have to see!}. It is one of the most revered temples in the country.

Punakha Festival

Image courtesy - Bhutan-Bhutan

Image courtesy – Bhutan-Bhutan

The Punakha Festival is a celebration of Guru Rimpoche, the saint who brought Buddhism to Bhutan. It is held on the grounds of Punakha Dzong, a gorgeous and huge palatial structure that previously was the seat of the government till the move to Thimphu. Masked dances, reenactments of past victories and spiritual celebrations make this the best place to experience the culture of Bhutan and learn of its rich history {all without a tour guide too!}.