A striking place of magic and myth, the lush Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan brims with a wealth of natural beauty, vibrant culture, spiritual and historical attractions and intrepid adventure.
Mysterious and shrouded in myth, Bhutan is filled with tangible examples of its extraordinary culture, from the striking architecture of its mountain forts and monasteries to the images of Buddhist religious figures painted or carved onto craggy cliffs. Frayed prayer flags flutter in spectacular mountain passes and prayer wheels turn slowly with the current of clear mountain streams.
Proudly keeping this destination sacred, it was only in 1974 that Bhutan allowed travellers in to explore. With only a few travel visas allocated each year, this is an unforgettable travel experience made even more significant with its authentic, sustainable approach to tourism.
- Slightly smaller than Switzerland, Bhutan covers just 14 800 square miles (38 400 square kilometres) of territory.
- A small population of 750 000 people.
- A place of intrigue, Druk Yul – the local name for Bhutan – means “Land of the Thunder Dragon”.
- Happiness is measured by way of an index known as Gross National Happiness. This places the emphasis on the people and their quality of life and not solely on Gross Domestic Product and material resources.
- The state religion of Bhutan is Vajrayana Buddhism.
- Bhutanese are dedicated to preserving their deep Buddhist traditions and pristine landscapes, a mosaic of ancient monasteries, Himalayan peaks, glacial rivers and charming villages.
Reasons to love Bhutan
Themed in green
Celebrated for its ethos of sustainability and unwavering focus on promoting responsible tourism, Bhutan is the leading green destination in the world. Neighbouring Nepal, India, Tibet and China, it is a tapestry of deep valleys and lofty mountains, snow-capped peaks and lush vegetation. Bhutan is blanketed in forest, creating a carbon negative environment and a destination to enjoy the fresh, crisp mountain air and pristine pollution free skies.
Happiness and positivity outlook
Neighbourly, courteous and kind, Bhutan is a nation of caring and compassion, tolerance and understanding and as such are a close-knit community always looking out for each other. This place of serenity makes it the ideal country to explore and discover. Education and healthcare are both free and Bhutanese values and priorities are starkly different from the western world.
Cultural marvels and festivals
A unique cultural heritage passed down from generation to generation has resulted in a fusion of religion, culture and social etiquette. Men dress in Gho and women in Kira, traditional attire when going to religious sites, government institutions, work and school. Medieval fortresses house shrines as well as the seat of government and the state monk body. Rich in art, architecture, paintings known as Thangkas, dance and music, the Bhutanese take great pride in their culture, heritage, customs and traditions. They honour ‘Zorig Chusum’ or 13 traditional arts and crafts that represent their culture and symbolise a spiritual experience for people of Bhutan.
Whirling dances, colourful wooden masks and vibrant music, a Bhutanese festival, or Tsechu, is a highlight of the Buddhist calendar with re-enactments of historic occasions and an incredible opportunity to experience a unique part of their culture. February and March see the Punakha Domchoe in the Punakha Valley, the popular Tsechu Festival happens in March and April in Paro and Thimphu in September and October sees one of the most celebrated festivals with unforgettable performances by monks decked out in decorative masks and costumes.
Hike to the Tiger’s Nest
Over 300 years old, Paro Taktshang is a revered monastery high on a cliff above the Paro Valley. An architectural masterpiece with spectacular views of vast lush rice paddies, legend suggests that Guru Padmasambhava meditated in a cave in the temple for years and flew out on to the back of a tigress to fight off evil spirits.
Adrenalin junkie haven
An outdoor enthusiast’s paradise, hop on a mountain bike over rugged terrain, raft and kayak on icy rivers and appreciate rich biodiversity and endangered species on a safari. Trek across snow covered mountains, especially the Snowman Hike to the Bhutan-Tibet border crossing 13 mountain passes offering spectacular alpine scenery.
Food, gloriously spicy food
Wholesome and hearty, Bhutanese dishes consist of curries, stews and rice, all packed with chilli peppers to maintain a feeling of warmth. A favourite is Bhutan’s national dish, ema datshi, melted yak’s cheese served with hot chili peppers – delicious.
Hot stone baths and inner peace
Step into a steaming tub and relax as minerals rejuvenate your body. The ideal spa therapy, large stones are heated over a blazing fire and used to warm your luxurious bath – simply sublime in winter! Bhutan is the ideal spiritual place for meditation and perfecting your state of mind. Immersed in nature, it inspires one to reconnect with yourself.
Home to an extraordinary range of natural landscapes and habitats, from subtropical valleys to alpine peaks, Bhutan is also home to some exceptional wildlife including Asian elephant, Bengal tiger, red panda, Himalayan black bear, black-necked cranes, Himalayan musk deer, Asiatic black bear, sloth bear, leopards and the grey wolf.
Summer (June – August)
Winter (December- February)
The days are usually sunny yet cool but once the sun sets the evenings can be very cold so be sure to pack warm clothing
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