22 Feb 2023

Bhutan Romantic Destinations

For its exclusivity, for the unique Himalayan landscapes, for the pursuit of happiness that’s centric to its culture and its deep connection with the celestial world, Bhutan should be your preferred destination for that special time you’ve put aside for a romantic break.

From high mountain grandeur to tranquil lakes, from pristine forestlands to historic forts, palaces, shrines and bazaars, it offers a slew of inspirational settings to recharge your relationship with your partner.

Scattered across Bhutan’s five main valleys of Thimphu, Paro, Punakha, Bumthang and Gangtey, are a host of lovely destinations where the romance of those glorious Himalayan vistas provide that extra edge to romantic sojourn here. A wonderful all year-round destination, Bhutan offers allurements in every season. Enjoy the floral plenitude of a Bhutanese spring; delight in the pleasures of its uncrowded summer months’ in the fall and winter temper your days with sparkling, clear views of those Himalayan vistas.

Thimphu Tryst

The bright blue skies of a wintry morning, the fresh mountain breezes and an alluring cultural vibe in the national capital will surely lend wing to your romance even with Bhutan itself. An early morning wander around town introduces you to the very heart of Bhutanese culture, embedded in its architectural delights, its Buddhist shrines, the friendly people, and its living traditions like wearing the national dress to work and school–and the daily rhythms of local life. The National Memorial Chorten is a good place to make your acquaintance with Bhutan’s legendary religious landmarks. Marvel at the superbly carved mandalas and statues here. Visiting Bhutan’s iconic dzongs is an intrinsic part of your Bhutan sojourn, so here’s a great opportunity for you and your partner to go exploring in the public spaces such as the beautiful gardens of the stunning Trashi Chhoe Dzong, in which are housed the offices of the King of Bhutan, the Throne Room, and the government’s corridors of power. Dzongs traditionally also have a monastic wing. Situated on the banks of the Wang Chhu River the majestic Trashi Dzong, with its complement of temples, chapels and shrines, also serves as the central Monastic Body and the summer residence of the Je Khenpo, the chief abbot. The present structure is ascribed to the third king, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, in 1962 when the Bhutan’s capital was shifted from Punakha to Thimphu. You might find it hard to believe that the entire structure has been built without nails, an integral feature of Bhutanese building traditions! If you are in Thimphu in September, come here for the 3-day Thimphu Tshechu celebrations, which are spectacular.

Pamper the culture buff in you in the hallways of the superb National Museum, the Royal Textile Academy of Bhutan and the National Folk Heritage Museum. Have fun together trying your hand at archery, the national sport. What you will love is that Thimphu is also a lively modern day hub, with a buzzing downtown vibe, with trendy cafés, art galleries, and clubs and beer joints. Spend an evening having fun at karaoke bars, talking football with locals and gorging on yummy food. A walk in the woods on the lookout for the unique goat-like Takin, the national animal offers a peek into the wonderments of Bhutan’s forested expanses at the Motithang Takin Preserve. Spend romantic moments star gazing at Dochula Pass with its 108 chortens, a short drive from town. In the day time savour those precious moments being smitten with the grand panoramas of Himalayan peaks here.

Paro Valley Thrills Galore

Rev up your romance in the gorgeous landscapes of the Paro Valley, where you can indulge in a series of adrenalin- pumping adventure sports. While the views afforded by a para-gliding stint are unimaginably memorable, you will surely find many selfie moments in these splendid vistas of this lush region. Tune into the spiritual high of that stiff hike to the legendary Tiger’s Nest Monastery; along the way stop for breathtaking views of the lovely valley. Hotels join the conspiracy to make your romantic interlude unforgettable with much cosseting and inventive ways to enjoy your stay with them. You can even plan to fill the days together with private yoga sessions, learning to cook a Bhutanese meal with a local homemaker and visit to local artisan workshop in the bazaar where you can indulge yourself buying souvenirs.

Punakha’s Soul-stirring Vistas

The old winter capital of Bhutan is choc-a-bloc with picture postcard vignettes of this subtropical river valley, dominated by the Mo Chhu River. Small farming homesteads, citrus groves and rhododendron forests quilt the valley, a big lure for explorations by a private bicycling tour. River rafting on the Mo Chu offers delightful moments capturing the world along its banks. Don’t forget to grab a selfie at the old Suspension Bridge across the river, said to be the most popular hotspot for indulgences such as this. Wend your way to the superb 17th century Punakha Dzong at Mo Chhu and Pho Chhu confluence; it is a prominent landmark of Bhutanese dzong architecture and the second largest one in Bhutan. If babies are in your plans in your future as a couple you can seek the blessing of the ‘divine madman’ or Chojie Drukpa Kuenley, at the much-visited Fertility Temple or Chimi Lhakhang Temple. An unmissable drive is the one up to Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten built by HM Queen Mother in 2004 to safeguard Punakha Valley from evil. Soak in the glorious views while taking some nice pictures together.

Bumthang- Sacred Spaces

Considered a sacred space of great significance Bumthang’s valleys Ura, Choekhor, Tang, and Chumney are scattered with centuries-old shrines and monasteries. Upon his return from Tibet in the mid-8th century, Guru Padmasambhava is said to have overseen the construction of new monasteries in the Paro Valley and set up his headquarters in Bumthang. Jampa Lhakhang in Bumthang and Kyerchu Lhakhang in Paro are Bhutan’s earliest Buddhist shrines built by the Tibetan Emperor Srongtsen Gampo (c.617-698). Kurje Lhakhang is much revered as Guru Padmasambhava is said to have meditated at this site and the impress of his body was marked upon the rock.

At the annual Thangbi Mani Festival in the 15th century Thangbi Lhakhang monastery in Choekhor, watch fire leaping monks enacting time worn sacred rituals. The beautiful embroidered cloth canopy over the altar in the sanctum is a remarkable visual of traditional Bhutanese weaving and embroidery traditions. A visit to the local Yathra textile weaving centre introduces you to one of Bhutan’s most enduring textile traditions. A drive to the sacred Burning Lake or Mebar Tsho, where Guru Rimpoche had hidden sacred scriptures, takes you through some stunning vistas of this remote area in Central Bhutan. On a lighter note, enjoy some pleasant moments enjoying delicious brews at the Bumthang Brewery or tastings of local cheeses with some producers in the area.

Gangtey- Compelling Beauty

The remote glacial Phobjikha Valley is home to the lovely Gangtey Monastery where you can enjoy a day in the company of the monks as they go through their daily rituals. Recharge your inner spirituality by lighting butter lamps and raising prayer flags. Drive to the Black-necked Crane Centre to look upon these rare wintering visitors, which are sacred in Bhutan. The pristine night skies at Gangtey are prefect for romantic moments star gazing.

Haa Valley-Jewel of Tranquil Delights

Fed by the waters of the Haa Chhu, which descends from Mt Chomolhari, the Haa Valley is a picturesque wonderland of great beauty in western Bhutan. You will love the uncrowded vibes of Haa, which falls in the shadows of three sacred towering mountains. A 3.5 hour drive from Thimphu brings you to this superb vale, where you can explore the 5-tiered hilltop Dobji Dzong (built in 1531 by Ngawang Chogyal, brother of Chojie Drukpa Kuenley, the “Divine Madman), the century old Tagchu Gompa, Lhakhang Karpo (the white temple) and Lhakhang Ngapo (the black temple. An unmissable experience here is the Haa Summer Festival to savour the valley’s living traditions. Recapture the charms of Bhutan’s great outdoors, following hiking trails and exploring its forests of rhododendron.

Across the five valleys of Bhutan are sequestered some beautiful lesser known destinations which are perfect for private time together for romancing couples. Some early planning makes it even more fun to explore this legendary ‘Shangri La’ on Earth.

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