Can anyone help me with some historic and medieval places to visit in Bhutan. I am planning to go a ride from India to Bhutan with a group of 8 people. Any other travel tips will be helpful. Our itinerary is planned, we have a few days free so wanted to explore some ancient places. Thanks!

  • There are historic dzongs scattered around Bhutan, but one would assume they are included in your itinerary already. You won't find medieval towns like you do in Europe.
    – user13044
    Sep 20, 2017 at 10:35
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    Sep 20, 2017 at 14:35

1 Answer 1


There aren't many mediaeval buildings in Bhutan, though there are some old monastries and dzongs (a cross between a castle, town hall and monastry). This is what you should look at if you want old buildings. Most are still in use and have been continuously altered and in some cases rebuilt, though in the same architectural style known as dzong architecture.

Far and away the most famous tourist destination in the country is the Taktsang Monastry or Tiger's Nest Monastry, built into a cliff face near Paro, allegedly on the site of the cave where Guru Rinpoche spent three years meditating, having flown there on a tiger, as you do. You'll hear a lot about Guru Rinpoche when you visit Bhutan. By Bhutanese standards it is old, having been built in 1692, but this is not mediaeval by European standards. Nevertheless, it is thoroughly worth a visit. Be warned, however: there is no road to the monastry, and it involves a 1000m climb up a steep hill, and (in my experience) some tour operators do not warn their clients about this. You start well above 2000m, so it's as well to have spent a day or two acclimatising to the altitude, though not doing so shouldn't be a major problem if you're fit. It used to be possible to ride a pony up (but not down), though I believe this has been stopped.

Also near Paro is the Rinchen Pung Dzong, Bhutan's largest dzong with a wonderfully rickety bridge over the river. Some distance east in Punakha is the Punakha Dzong, another large dzong which served the seat of government until 1955. But like the Taktsang Monastry, they are both 17th century in origin. Not remotely mediaeval, but the Dechencholing Palace in Thimphu is a large palace built in 1953 in the traditional dzong style to be royal residence, though the King and Queen no longer live there.

Doubtless there are other examples, especially in the less commonly frequented east of the country, but I know of nothing older than 17th century. I've heard it said that the Singye Dzong is mediaeval, but I've never seen anything authoritative on the subject; in any case, the question is probably moot as the Singye Dzong is a three day trek from the nearest road and tourists are rarely given permission to visit.

Presumably you've given thought to the entry requirements for visiting Bhutan? Unless you're a national of India, Bangladesh or the Maldives, have employment in Bhutan, or have a letter of invitation from friends or relatives living in Bhutan, you need to pay the minimum daily package via an approved tour operator. Unlike some countries, letters of invitation cannot normally be bought from strangers to bypass the minimum daily package. This package starts at US$200 per person per night, increasing during peak tourist season or for small groups, though there are discounts after the 8th night. This cost includes all meals, accommodation, transport and entry to museums, dzongs and other attractions. You will be assigned a tour guide who will accompany you for the duration of your visit. Travelling without a guide is not generally permitted, and there are check points between many of the districts where your papers will be inspected.

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