Entertainment in Bhutan

Bhutan is a country that focuses on Gross National Happiness. It hasn’t been long since it was open to foreign visitors. Except for a few larger cities, Bhutan is still an old-school destination that has not been quite influenced with modernization. In terms of entertainment in Bhutan, the bountiful festivals that exist throughout the country are major forms of amusement for the Bhutanese populace. Most of the festivals known as Tshechus involve masked dances and charades and enlivening performances. These are very entertaining especially to foreign travelers and a major means of mirth, merriment, laughter and entertainment to the locals as well. Some of the ways of entertainment in Bhutan are as follows:

a) Theater:

Bhutan does not have an extensive and rich tradition of drama and theatres. However, some dramatic dances and plays are performed popularly during the Bhutanese festivals across the country. Their plays or performances usually convey religious and moral messages while entertaining the people with humor and jokes alongside. Some of the most popular plays are Ache Lhamo of Merak-Sakteng, Milarepa’s conversion of hunter Gyonpo Dorje, and Handsome Men & Beautiful Women.

b) Music& Dance:

Music in Bhutan is a fundamental part of its culture and tends to play a prominent part in spreading social values. Traditional Bhutanese music includes a whole gamut of subgenres stretching from folk to religious songs and music. Along with traditional music, masked dances and dance dramas are common hands-on components of folk-music in Bhutan. Over the last decade, Bollywood music and a little influence of western music have been witnessed quite a lot with no exception to Nepali music as well. Live music performances can be seen in many restaurants and music bars in the major cities of Bhutan. Some of the hot and happening music hubs in Bhutan are:

  • Mojo Park, Thimphu
  • Jimmy’s Pub, Thimphu
  • Park 76 Café & Pub
  • Druk Star Karaoke Bar
  • Millennium Club, Paro

c) Folk Dances

Like every other country in the world, dances in Bhutan has its own forms and styles that doesn’t fail to define the diverse culture of the country. Dancers in Bhutan don’t just perform to impress the audience or win a prize, but they do it with all their heart and soul. One of the most prominent dances of Bhutan is Cham Dance that involves a series of masked dances performed by either laymen or the monks wearing flamboyant costumes. The following dances are a part of Cham Dance:

  • Joenpa Legso
  • Drametse Nga Cham
  • Pa Cham
  • Zhungdra
  • Boedra

d) Cinemas

The cinema scenario of Bhutan isn’t as large as visitors may expect but it is emerging gradually. The film industry in the country has been highly influenced by the neighboring Indian Bollywood and to certain extent by the Nepali movie industry. There aren’t many cinema houses in Bhutan and in the few ones, Hindi, English, Dzongkha and sometimes Nepali movies are shown. Movie halls may not be up to the standard at all, but it has been emerging out from nothing to quite a handful. The price of a ticket will cost you according to the different standards of the cinema hall, which ranges anywhere from US$ 1.5 to 8. Some of the places where you can entertain yourself for a couple of hours with celluloid delight are:

  1. City Cinema, Thimphu
  2. Lugar Theatre, Thimphu
  3. Cinema Hall, Gelephu
  4. Trowa Theatre, Thimphu
  5. Multiplex, Thimphu
  6. Near MIG Cinema Hall, Phuentsholing
  7. SJM Cinema Hall, Samdrup Jongkhar
  8. 5D Cinema Hall, Thimphu
  9. Thimphu Central Complex, Thimphu
  10. Changjiji Cinema Hall Complex, Thimphu

e) Discotheques and Nightclubs

Bhutan is a very conservative country that hasn’t been exposed to the outer world for a long time.  With a considerable influence from the neighboring countries like India and Nepal, the nightlife in Bhutan has seen a gradual development since a few years. Today, you will find a few discotheques and nightclubs especially in cities like Thimphu, Paro and Phuentsholing. However, nightlife in Bhutan is not active till very late at night like other cities elsewhere in India or Nepal. Some of the most prominent places to hangout and experience the nightlife of Bhutan are:

  1. Viva City, Thimphu
  2. Club Ace, Thimphu
  3. Space 34, Thimphu
  4. Zomyang Club, Wangdue Phodrang
  5. Club Ecstacy, Paro
  6. Club K, Thimphu
  7. All Star, Thimphu

f) Casino:

Unfortunately, there are no casinos in the entire kingdom of Bhutan. All forms of gambling are unlawful in the country with the only exception of the lotteries that are not considered as gambling. Gambling laws in Bhutan are rather stringent although it is not known whether the decrees are applicable for online gambling or not.  

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