• Caroline Pang

Landscape Of Bhutan

Updated: May 5

Bhutan showcases a range of stunning landscape, from high mountains to valleys. It is an all year round travel destination which makes it another amazing place for landscape photography.


Spring and autumn are best for nature exploration and festivals. Summer is a good time to explore Bhutan in a warmer weather. Autumn to winter season is the best season to capture picturesque Himalayan mountain range. Winter months are great for bird watching. Lowest temperature is usually in January till early February with some snowfall, which transformed Bhutan into a magical wonderland.


Mountains surrounding Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan.
Fujifilm XT-2, 16-55mm, ISO200, f/11, 1/60

The warming up shot is this breathtaking view of Thimphu (2,320 m) from Kuensel Phrodang Nature Park in the early morning of spring. Thimphu is the capital of Bhutan. Travellers usually stay a night or two in Thimphu before starting their exploration of Bhutan.


Buddha Dordenma statue sits and overlooks Thimphu valley.
Fujifilm XT-2, 16-55mm, ISO200, f/11, 1/60

The calmness at Buddha Point where the Buddha Dordenma statue sits and overlooks Thimphu valley. The statue was completed on time to mark the fourth King of Bhutan's 60th birthday in November 2015. The height is 51.5 metres. It is one of the largest Buddha statues in the world. I enjoy spending my every first morning in Bhutan on this mountain, simply listening to the sound of wind and the flapping prayer flags.


Mt. Khangbum (6,065 m).
Fujifilm XT-2, 16-55mm, ISO400, f/11, 1/60

The first light shining onto one of the Himalayan peaks of Bhutan in autumn - Mt. Khangbum (6,065 m). I stayed overnight at Dochula (3,150 m) so I can wake up at the break of dawn to catch the sunrise and to get a clear view of the mountains. The best time of the year to see the Himalayan range of Bhutan is in autumn and winter, starting from the month of October until February.


Gangkhar Puensum (7,550 m) is Bhutan’s highest and unclimbed mountain.
Fujifilm XT-2, 55-200mm, ISO400, f/11, 1/60

Gangkhar Puensum (7,550 m) is Bhutan’s highest and unclimbed mountain. In Bhutan, mountaineering activities are not allowed since 1997. According to local believes, mountain peaks are sacred and homes to spirits and the Gods.


Fiery sunset in Bhutan.
Fujifilm XT-2, 16-55mm, ISO400, f/8, 1/105

“The Druk or Dragon Sunrise” which is just like a streak of fire from a dragon’s mouth, as seen from Dochula. Clearly this is the Land of The Thunder Dragon.


Cypress is the national tree of Bhutan.
Fujifilm XT-2, 16-55mm, ISO400, f/11, 1/60

Cypress is the national tree of Bhutan. Almost 70% of Bhutan is covered with forest and that makes more than 51% of protected areas in Asia. With that chunk of forest covers, it has helped the absorption of carbon dioxide and keeping the world's climate change at bay.

Bhutan is the only country in the world that measures prosperity not based on GDP but happiness index. Conservation of the natural environment is one of the four pillars of Bhutan's Gross National Happiness (GNH) index.


Spanish moss are like indicators for air quality.
Fujifilm XT-2, 16-55mm, ISO200, f/18, 1/60

Spanish moss are like indicators for air quality. I call them a natural PSI Grader. These epiphytic plants are in abundance in Bhutan. Clearly the air here has less pollution.


Phobijkha is a vast glacier valley at an elevation of 3,300 m in central Bhutan.
Fujifilm XT-2, 16-55mm, ISO200, f/11, 1/60

Phobijkha is a vast glacier valley at an elevation of 3,300 metres in central Bhutan. It is the largest reserved wetland in Bhutan and home to the migratory Black Neck Cranes from Tibet. Yearly festival is held in November at Gangtey Monastery to welcome the cranes. The cranes arrived five days after I left in autumn of 2017. Again, I have missed seeing them up closed.


One of the many beautiful trails in Phobjikha valley. The valley offers many breathtaking trails for trekkers of all levels.
Fujifilm XT-2, 16-55mm, ISO200, f/11, 1/60

One of the many beautiful trails in Phobjikha valley. The valley offers many breathtaking trails for trekkers of all levels.


Villagers having an evening of leisure football match at 3,330 metres in Phobjikha valley.
Fujifilm XT-2, 16-55mm, ISO200, f/11, 1/60

The blue hour moment at Phobjikha valley. At 3,330 metres, in autumn and the temperature is dropping quickly. Villagers are rounding up the final leisure football match of the evening.


Fujifilm XT-2, 16-55mm, ISO200, f/5.6, 1/125

As the sun rises in the morning, the frost from the roof starts to melt. I slowly sipped my first cup of coffee while I watched the endless flow of water splashing onto each of these golden rain cups. Day dreaming for a moment before I head out for the day's exploration.


Panoramic view of Gangtey Monastery, Phobjikha, Bhutan.

Gangtey Monastery in Phobjikha valley is the venue for the yearly festival or tsechu to welcome the Black Neck Cranes.


Coffee break at Bhutan mountain roadside.
Fujifilm XT-2, 16-55mm, ISO200, f/8, 1/60

Taking a break from photography and that long drive, sometimes we have our coffee breaks with the yaks.


A walk in the morning in the farmland in Bumthang.
Fujifilm XT-2, 16-55mm, ISO400, f/11, 1/60

Morning walk in the farmland of Bumthang, also known as the little Switzerland. Cows are everywhere grazing in the green pastures. Bumthang surely has some sort of a resemblance to Switzerland.


Fujifilm XT-2, 16-55mm, ISO400, f/8, 1/125

Exploring on foot is the best way to find amazing spots for landscape photography. This include crossing hanging bridges, like this one in Bumthang, wobbly but steady.


Flapping colourful prayer flags written with mantras and prayers circling trees and vegetation in this cypress oak forest.
Fujifilm XT-2, 16-55mm, ISO200, f/11, 1/60

Flapping colourful prayer flags written with mantras and prayers are circling those trees and vegetation in this dense cypress oak forest.


Sun ray shining onto Paro valley (2,200 m) in Bhutan.
Fujifilm XT-2, 16-55mm, ISO400, f/22, 1/60

Sun ray shining onto Paro valley (2,200 m). This was the view from the trail to Tiger Nest Monastery at 3,120 metres. That was around 5 pm in spring. I stayed until the sun was about to set. This beautiful sun ray starts to appear unexpectedly, and slowly transformed the landscape into something magical.


This photo essay is one of the six part series of my journeys and discoveries of Bhutan published on Drukair’s inflight magazine, Tashi Delek.


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