So exotic. So dramatic. Its magical essence can't be articulated. From the rich Buddhist culture to its remote Himalaya setting. Here the people live unimaginably hard but full lives, rooted in age-old tradition yet ready to join the 21st century. Bhutan seems like a place that couldn't still exist. A place you feel lucky to have experienced.
1 Hike to Dzong Drakha, a seldom visited cliffside temple complex set high above the valley | Stroll the streets of Paro—Bhutan's second largest city—where you might run into nomads wandering in from the high mountains.
2-3 At the top of Dochula Pass, take in a panorama of snowcapped Himalayan peaks | Pine forests line our path through Punakha Valley | Hike to Chorten Nebu, a 14th-century temple accessible only on foot | Backroads was one of the first foreign groups to be warmly welcomed at this monastery, which offers an authentic look at traditional Bhutanese culture.
4-6 Ascend herders' trails to find valley views and colorful prayer flags | Raft down the Punakha's Pochu River on our way to the exquisite riverside Punakha Dzong, Bhutan's winter capital | Tackle the stunning walk to Cheri Goemba, a 17th-century monastery | Visit a giant golden Buddha that houses 125,000 smaller figures inside.
7-8 Hike to secluded monasteries and temples, including the otherworldly cliff-clinging Tiger's Nest | Walk trails with thousands of prayer flags flapping in the wind | Sip a hot brew 9,200 feet up at Taktsang teahouse | Stroll the streets of Paro and peruse handicrafts in Paro's tiny traditional shops.