When you are planning a trip to Asia, Bhutan probably is not the first destination that springs to mind. It’s a bit off the beaten track. Chances are good you think first of India or Thailand or China and their well-known tourist attractions. So why consider a vacation to Bhutan instead, the smallest Himalayan state in all of Asia? We won’t just give you one good reason—we will give you nine out of many more. For just one of these, I’m sure Bhutan will be on your bucket list. For all nine? I’m sure you will be planning your trip itinerary in no time.
Here’s why you should consider adding it to your travel bucket list.
Bhutanese law dictates that at least 60% of land should be under forest cover at any given time! This bodes well with the country as it currently has about 71% forest cover that helps in maintaining and preserving the natural eco-system of this destination. The hilly landscapes, a variety of flora fauna, lush green valleys, sparkling water bodies along with verdant slopes and mountains provide a unique bio-diversity and balance of nature to the country. Natural beauty is at its best and more importantly, the environment is pure and significantly pollution-free for locals as well as tourists. Bhutan is the only country in the world that is not only carbon neutral, but is carbon negative – meaning that the Bhutanese offset more CO2 than they actually produce!
Did You Know?
Bhutan was awarded the ‘Earth Award’ in March 2018 at the ITB (International Tourism Bourse) in Berlin, Germany. Bhutan was selected as the winner among 100 sustainable destinations for its efforts to promote responsible tourism. With this, Bhutan is the leading green destination in the world.
Bhutan is a land where magic is intertwined with history, and where mythological creatures are believed to have existed. The stories you will hear here are unlike anything else you will have encountered on your travels. Take the famous Tiger’s Nest for example (pictured above) where a famous Tibetan Buddhist Master Guru Padmasambhava is said to have flown on the back of a flying tigress, or the “Divine Madman” who was believed to have fought off enemies with a thunderbolt from his magical genitalia. Have you ever heard of a place with a more fascinating history? Of course not!
Bhutanese people are kind, welcoming and helpful.
The people in Bhutan are some of the friendliest human that you will meet anywhere in the world. Buddhism is a strong part of the culture here which likely has some impact on how incredibly peaceful the country and its people are as a whole. The Bhutanese believe that all sentient beings are created equal and treat all life forms with compassion and kindness.
The cultural diversity of Bhutan is reflected in the many colorful festivals (Tshechu) most anticipated and celebrated around the country. These are annual social gatherings that are held in every district of Bhutan where the festivities, events and even the month of celebration are unique from one another. The Punakha Tshechu celebrated at the iconic, Punakha Dzong is one of the most popular festivals in the country. The unfurling of the Thongdrol (a large tapestry) usually depicting Guru Padmasambhava surrounded by holy beings is the main attraction of this festival. It is believed that a mere viewing of this tapestry is enough to cleanse the sins of the viewer!
Bhutanese style masquerade dance (Cham), re-enactments of ancient Bhutanese legends, battle scenes (victory over Tibet), viewing of enormous thangkas and local donning their very best gho or kira (traditional dress) are some of the most common features of these festivals.
Guru Rinpoche founded Buddhism in Bhutan and set course for a simple lifestyle that ensured people were honest, hardworking but also spiritually inclined and grounded to their religious roots. In Bhutan, Buddhism is not a religion; it’s a way of life! People are generally content and peaceful often meditating at the many Buddhist monasteries or contributing their fair share and participating in the traditional festivals. You deserve that much-needed break too, from our busy, chaotic and stress-ridden lives. And what better place than Bhutan to help you achieve that sense of happiness, content and peace of mind?
Bhutan is a country where ancient culture thrives in the best way possible! The Bhutanese have slowly and steadily marched towards progress but they have always been grounded to their beliefs and traditions. For example it is mandatory for a Bhutanese man/woman to wear the traditional Bhutanese attire whenever he/she visits any official/religious/judicial premises in Bhutan. This not only keeps the tradition alive but also instills a sense of integrity and cultural pride in the people.
Bhutanese are also experts in various arts and crafts such as weaving textiles, paintings, sculptures, paper making, wood carving, bamboo craft, etc..and sports such as archery, khuru, soksom, pundo and degor that play an important role in country’s profound history and heritage.
Did You Know?
Archery is the most popular and the national sport of Bhutan!
Who wouldn’t want to visit one of the happiest countries in the world?
Bhutan was one of the first countries in the world to proudly embrace the philosophy of ‘Gross National Happiness’. In a world that is constantly trying to outsmart one another at the cost of its people and resources, Bhutan is one country that lays more prominence on the prosperity and happiness of its populace. This unique philosophy has even been recognized on an international level by the United Nations. Truly, a terrific reason to visit one of the happiest countries in the world!
Hearty, and with just enough spice to pack a punch, Bhutanese food was designed to help the locals survive amid high altitudes and harsh winter climates.
Rice is the staple diet of Bhutan. Bhutanese eat A LOT of rice and it is a part of every meal we eat. Make sure to try Ema Datshi – the local favourite which consists of melted yak cheese served with chopped chillies, a staple at most dinner tables along with a cup of suja; Bhutanese butter tea.
Based on your preferences your Bhutan tour organizer can also arrange a milder version of the local dishes (so be sure to make a specific request if you want to try them the Bhutanese way). One thing is for sure – you’ll be disappointed that you can’t find this incredible food anywhere else in the world.
The country focuses on “low impact, high-value tourism” and imposes a minimum daily fee of $200 per person, per night to explore the country. In the peak months, these increases to $250 per person per night. Before you start frantically crossing Bhutan off your travel bucket list though, it is important to gain perspective on those costs.
While Bhutan definitely isn’t a budget backpacker destination, the aforementioned costs do include everything – accommodation (in 3-4 star hotels), 3 meals per day, a private tour guide and driver, admission fees and bottled water. Besides these, you will also be part of the nation building as $65 from your daily fee also goes to government as the Sustainable Development Fee (SDF). When you break it down, you’re getting a fairly good deal. It’s still pricey but, for a once in a lifetime dream trip, it is absolutely worth saving up for.
Out of 195 countries Bhutan has topped Lonely Planet’s list of best places to travel in 2020. Lonely Planet granted the title based on its low impact tourism policy, its rich culture and tradition, as well as its pristine natural environment.
“Bhutan really taps into one of the themes of this year’s Best in Travel, which is the growing awareness in sustainability and in looking after the things that make our world so beautiful, Bhutan is playing a leading role in that,” said Tom Hall, Vice-President of experience at Lonely Planet.