Explore Bhutan on our fascinating illustrated journey through this magical kingdom!
Bhutan is renowned for being the country where Gross National Happiness is valued more than Gross National Product. It’s also one of the most pristine and culturally intact countries in the world too. Bhutan also places great emphasis on environmental issues and may well be a carbon positive country.
Dependent upon how you value the stuff of life, Bhutan may well be the most ‘perfect’ country in the world and a model to us all.
There’s free health care for all Bhutanese citizens (partly funded by tourism) and as the Bhutanese take great pride in their beautiful country, it’s very clean too. Litter is almost non-existent.
The Bhutan Himalayas
By far the best way to see the Himalayas in Bhutan is to go trekking. Just like about everything else in Bhutan, trekking is pretty well regulated and restricted too.
Unlike Nepal, there are no tea houses on the trekking routes in Bhutan. So, camping is the only option if you want to get right into the heart of the Bhutan Himalayas.
Also, again unlike Nepal you can’t trek independently. It must be with a licensed guide and with a full trek support crew too. Porterage is usually done by pack animals in Bhutan, not porters as in Nepal.
Just like Nepal, Bhutan isn’t a country of cities but of rurality. In bucolic, fertile and verdant green valleys such as Bumthang, Haa and Punakha and amongst the isolated Himalayan villages, real life in Bhutan can be discovered.
Dzongs, Monasteries and more
The magnificent Dzongs of Bhutan are architectural master pieces. Indeed there seems to be some kind of a Buddhist monument at every turn as you travel through the country!
Exceptionally friendly and hospitable, as well as being quite ethically diverse, the people of Bhutan are both fascinating and very photogenic too!
Arts & Crafts
Bhutan is renowned for its colourful festivals. Some Bhutan festivals are now very well known amongst travelling circles and have become very popular tourist attractions too as a result. Paro and Thimpu festivals in particular.
For these festivals hotels and flights to Bhutan are often fully booked up to a year in advance. Other Bhutan festivals remain a much more local affair and present a more intimate experience for the discerning traveller to Bhutan.
1- Thimpu is the only capital in the world not to have traffic lights. It did have some for a while, but the locals complained as they prefer the white gloved police to direct traffic.
2- The highest unclimbed mountain in the world-Gangkar Puensum-is in Bhutan. As the Govt of Bhutan has banned peak climbing, this record is likely to remain.
3- Less than 140,000 tourists visit Bhutan each year.
4- Bhutan has no trains (at the moment).
5- Hydro-electricity is Bhutan’s most valuable export commodity.
6- Bhutan’s National Sport is Archery.
7-To the locals Bhutan is Druk Yul-Land of the Thunder Dragon– this is because of the huge thunder storms that roll in across the Himalayas.
8-If anyone is caught harming or killing the endangered black-necked crane, they could be sentenced to prison for life.
9-Bhutan is the only country in the world where the sale of tobacco is prohibited.
10-The first foreign tourists were allowed into Bhutan in 1974.
11-Up until 1960, Bhutan had no roads, no electricity, no automobiles and no postal system.
12-30% of the population in Bhutan are younger than 15!
How to travel to Bhutan-What you need to know
You do need a Visa to enter Bhutan and you can only get this by booking a visit to Bhutan with a licensed Bhutan Tour Operator like Snow Cat Travel.
The Bhutan Visa is often confused with the daily charge that all tourists to Bhutan must pay. This charge is best described as a minimum daily package tariff, which is imposed by the Bhutan Government.
How does the minimum daily tariff work?
It is precisely that….a minimum amount you have to pay PER DAY to be in Bhutan. It varies between $200-$300 dependent upon the season and the size of the party travelling.
The minimum daily tariff does however include the following services.
• A minimum of 3 star accommodation (4 & 5 star will require an additional, hefty premium).
• All meals
• A licensed Bhutanese tour guide for the extent of your stay
• Camping equipment and haulage for trekking tours
It also includes:
• All internal taxes and charges
• A sustainable tourism Royalty of $65. This Royalty goes towards free education, free healthcare, poverty alleviation, along with the building of infrastructure.
Paro International Airport
Most people visiting Bhutan arrive by air and the only international airport is at Paro.
Flight options to Paro are limited to Druk Air and Bhutan Airlines. No other International carriers are presently allowed to operate flights to Bhutan
There are flights (not usually daily) to Paro from Kathmandu, Delhi, Bangkok, Singapore, Calcutta, Mumbai, Bagdogra, Dhaka & Bodh Gaya
Thanks to Steve Razzetti and Alex Treadway for images
Fancy a visit to Bhutan? See our BHUTAN TRIPS