Bhutan - Land of the Thunder Dragon is a quaint, peaceful, hilly country set amongst the Himalayas! Owing to its unparalleled elegance, the last Buddhist Kingdom is also famed as the last Shangri-La. It is a distinctly modern nation with one foot firmly rooted in the past.
Bhutan has recognized the pitfalls of rapid modernization and has chosen to proceed cautiously without losing its unique identity. Furthermore, it is the smallest country in the world as well as the happiest country wherein the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the nation is measured on an index of happiness of the population.
The country covers an area of only 38,394 square km and is one of the smallest countries in the world. The country also has a very small population of only 797,335 people. The country is hidden among the Greater Himalayan range to the north of India and south of China. It shares its borders with Nepal on the western side and with India through the state of Sikkim on the Eastern side.
Popular road routes into Bhutan pass through Nepal and India.
However, Bhutan is a monarchy ruled by His Majesty, the King. The people of Bhutan majorly follow Mahayana Buddhism which is also the state religion of the nation. There are no political conflicts that disturb the daily of Bhutanese people neither is poverty or much crime. Moreover, Government policy prioritizes sustainable socio-economic growth, the preservation and promotion of culture and tradition, and the preservation and protection of the natural environment.
All in all, it is well ruled, the people are happy and welcoming and is a considerably very safe destination to go to in the summer of 2022. The government's tourism policy of "high value, low volume" is a reflection of the government's attempts to hold foreign influences at balance while nurturing Bhutanese values at home.
Bhutan takes on an entirely new look and feels as a result, providing a visual and spiritual feast for all visitors.
It is indeed one of the most peaceful and safest countries that you can visit.
So, what your plan on booking deals in Bhutan? Where to stay in Bhutan and what food to eat? Himalayan Trekkers being a leading travel company has many Bhutan tour packages that will help you in tailoring the perfect plan for your stay. Here we have come up with some of the reasons why travel to Bhutan in 2022.
The Most Welcoming People
Bhutanese people are some of the kindest people that you will meet anywhere in the world. They are warm and welcoming and always have a beautiful smile on their face. It is ordinary in Bhutan that a random stranger would suddenly greet you hello by saying “Kazuzangpo La” and nothing to get alarmed about.
In fact, the people are so generous and welcoming, that they may even invite you to their home for a refreshing glass of buttermilk called sugar or a cup of tea, or even locally grown wine. This is how you will be received anywhere you are in Bhutan. It is filled with happy people who like to spread happiness.
The Kingdom from a Fairy Tale
From the police maintaining the traffic to the general life in Bhutan, everything has a unique touch, everything is picturesque. It is an old nation and buildings that were built hundreds of years ago are still standing today efficiently preserving the age-old architectural styles. Bhutan is ruled by a King and thus there are numerous such old, fascinating buildings steeped in the rich cultural history of Bhutan.
The nobles and Kings of Bhutan have built numerous Dzongs forts throughout Bhutan. These forts are situated at the peak of high hills and also within the many cities and villages. It offers you a vibrant view of the bright nature of Bhutan. The sudden forts interspersed in the city life or within nature give you an amazing, imaginary feeling as you have stepped into a world of fairy tales.
In Bhutan, where Vajrayana Buddhism is the state religion and its relevance can be found in every aspect. Buddhism is not only a religion in Bhutan; it is a way of life. Bhutan's peace & serenity may be attributed to the fact that Buddhism is profoundly rooted in society's mentality.
Many Buddhist monasteries, dzongs, chortens, prayer wheels, and prayer flags can be found here. Buddha Dordema, a 51.5-meter-high statue of Buddha, is located in Thimphu, Bhutan's capital city. Don't be confused if you see an elderly man or woman circumambulating the Memorial Chorten with a string of beads in hand.
Bhutan is committed to maintaining and fostering Buddhism as a spiritual practice. The government also financially supports Buddhism, providing annual grants to Buddhist monasteries, monks, nuns, and shrines. Moreover, meditation is an essential component of Buddhist practice.
Throughout Bhutan, there are heritages and small retreat centers, while meditational centers are typically located near monasteries, temples, and monastic schools. Besides, meditation and retreat programs can last less than a day which can be extended as desired. Bhutan's meditation retreats are a great place to get away from the disruption and chaos.
Local Festivals aka Tsechus
The Buddhist culture prevalent throughout the county is what is celebrated in the cultural festivals in the land of Bhutan. Since Buddhism is a religion chiefly dependent on simplicity, these festivals are occasions to express joy and happiness.
These festivals are celebrated in the Dzongs or in the temples in Bhutan. The festival is celebrated to honor Guru Rimpoche, who was the saint to have introduced Buddhism into Bhutan. The festival is celebrated according to the Buddhist calendar and is celebrated on auspicious days or months. The celebrations can go as long as up to 4 days in which there are highly stylized masked dance performances.
Mask dances and other forms of entertainment are featured at grandly celebrated tshechus, which bring communities together. Those who part-take in Tshechus are believed to receive blessings as well as forgiveness for their sins. In addition, Tshechu performances have a special significance or represent a story based on events dating back to Guru Padmasambhava's period in the 8th century. Thimphu tshechu and Paro tshechu are two of Bhutan's most important festivals among the many Tshechus.
Tsechu is a form of transferring the stories and traditions of the ancient days to the younger mass. Such performances are very prevalent in eastern religions wherein the deeds of a great man are passed down orally from generation to generation. In the case of the Bhutanese Tsechu festival, this history is conveyed through artistic and elaborate dance performances which chronicle the stories of Bhutan. Many times, giant silk cloth is used which depicts Guru Rimpoche or some other deity through Thangka paintings.
Excellent Mountain Trekking
Since Bhutan is perched among the Himalayas, it is crisscrossed with many excellent and extensive trekking routes. There are smaller, simpler, easy-to-do treks such as the trail that takes you to Paro from Thimpu within 3 days. Bhutan also boasts of the extensive snowman trek.
It is a long and difficult trek spanning over 25 days and passing through 12 high mountain passes, all of which are over 4,500 m in height. Grazing animals, birds and butterflies, immense grasslands, and so on could all be part of a trek that you are taking. Some of the treks take you through some of the most ancient monasteries present in Bhutan.
Museums & Monuments
Museums are repositories of Bhutanese history, beginning with Guru Padmasambhava's arrival in the 8th century. Visitors would have a museum-within-a-museum experience when touring the various dzongs and Lhakhang, each of which is unique from the others.
Authentic Delicacies & “HOT” Cuisine
Bhutanese cuisine is characterized by spiciness from chilies. It is the only nation in the world where chili is used as a vegetable rather than a seasoning. "Ema-datshi", a chili and cheese stew eaten with rice, is the national dish. Tourists who are adventurous will want to sample it at their own risk! Try Momos, a steamed delicacy consisting of vegetables or meat covered in flour sheets.
Jasha Maroo is a diced chicken dish with fresh ingredients such as onion, tomato, garlic, ginger, chilies, and coriander leaves that are traditionally served with rice. If you like meat, there are dishes made with chicken, pork, beef, yak, and lamb. There are no foreign fast-food restaurant chains in Bhutan, so use this as an opportunity to sample some of the country's authentic and exotic cuisine, which you won't find elsewhere.
Highest Unclimbed Mountains
Mount Jhomolhari, Jitchu Drake, and other peaks in Bhutan are among the world's highest unclimbed peaks. Mountaineering in these mountains, which the Bhutanese believe are the embodiment of deities and spirits, is forbidden by the government. Climbing mountains higher than 6,000 meters has been prohibited since 1994. Moreover, Bhutan has outlawed mountaineering entirely since 2003. Although climbing mountains is prohibited, trekking through dense forests is permitted in Bhutan.
Bhutan has an essence of natural beauty that is unmatched by any other nation. While the forest cover in other developing countries has plummeted, Bhutan boasts of an immense 72% forest cover. This densely forested area thus can boast of lots of wildlife and exotic plant species. Endangered species such as the black-necked crane, golden langur, blue sheep, and Royal Bengal tigers are present in these forests of Bhutan. These dense forests also attract lots of migratory bird species throughout the year. The locally available birds are also found in plenty in the pristine environment making Bhutan a safe haven for an ardent bird watcher or wildlife photographer.
World’s Only Carbon Negative Country
Inhale the clean, fresh air that you won't find in any other country! Bhutan has achieved carbon neutrality at a time when many countries are struggling to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Bhutan emits about 1.5 million tons of carbon per year and consumes about 6 million tons. Carbon emissions are lowered here with the use of renewable energy instead of non-renewable petroleum products or nuclear power plants.
When you visit Bhutan, you will be embraced by greenery; this is not a miracle, but rather a deliberate attempt to protect the ecosystem. Bhutan's constitution mandates that forest cover at least 60% of the land, and the latest study shows that forest cover covers 72 percent of Bhutan. It also promotes afforestation, and in June 2015, it set a Guinness World Record by planting 49,672 trees.
Special Places in Bhutan
Now that you have a motive to visit this small and picturesque place let us move on to some of the amazing places that Bhutan has to offer to its guests.
Taktsang Monastery is one of the most prominent destinations in Bhutan. For Bhutanese, it is a sacred place where Guru Rinpoche meditated and is credited with spreading Buddhism throughout the country. As per their belief, Guru Rinpoche is said to have flown here on the back of a tigress to meditate in caves.
The Tiger's Nest is an impressive architectural masterpiece that showcases Bhutan's incredible craftsmanship. There are four main temples at the monastery that are built along the side of a cliff, at an altitude of 900 m from the floor of Paro valley. This monastery also called the Tiger’s Nest because of its unique locations, is a breathtaking sight. The interior of the monastery, which has a red and golden roof on white buildings, is just as majestic as the outside.
Furthermore, the monastery is situated in an isolated area with only mountainous trails linking it to the outside world. It takes about 2 to 3 hours to trek to the top and you will be charmed by the amazing panoramic view from the top.
The Punakha Dzong is an amazing fort that is located at the meeting point of the Pochhu and Mochhu rivers. This is a place loaded with scenic views that will take you to a different dimension. The entire region is planned in a Tibetan style of architecture and is loaded with white walls paired with carvings made on reddish wood and gilded roofs.
Buddha Dordenma Statue
The mountains of the Thimpu valley have a monumental site which is this statue of Sakyamuni. The Buddha Dordenma statue goes up to a height of 51.5 m and can be seen perched upon a hilltop from a great distance away. this place also boasts of a hundred thousand smaller Buddha statues which are crafted from gold and bronze to add to the mesmerizing effect.
You have to pass through Dochula Pass if you are traveling on the road between Paro and Thimpu. This is an interesting site lined with 108 stupas. These stupas are built to commemorate the death of soldiers who had died in a war. Dochula Pass has not only an interesting history but an astounding view of the Himalayas at large.
Phobjika Valley is a place of scenic beauty that will take you on a transcending experience far away from the maddening crowd. This is a quaint valley loaded with many trails through forests as well as wildflowers. These treks will produce a calming effect on you and relax you to the very core. During the winter seasons, black-necked cranes from Tibet fly over to this valley and abound this place.
The Rinping Dzong is also known as the Paro Dzong and is the political headquarter in Paro. The massive structure of this building is easily visible from different locations throughout the valley. There used to be a watchtower in this Dzong which has now been renovated into a museum. The museum is loaded with excellent treasures that will tell you a rich history of Bhutan.
Tashicho Dzong is known as the Thimpu Dzong and is the political center of Thimpu Valley.
It also happens to be the summer palace in which the leader of Buddhism in Bhutan resides during the summer season. Dzongs were the ancient forts that are now used as administrative centers. The architecture of this place could be described as nothing but grand and you will also get the comforting feel from the religious atmosphere of the place.
Bhutan tours take some further meticulous planning than most other travel destinations, but they are well worth it. Further, Himalayan Trekkers offers you multiple ways of exploring the country. Live like a local or have a luxurious stay at Thimpu, Himalayan Trekkers will plan a dream-like stay, just the way you want.
After the end of Covid and everything back to normal, Bhutan is the perfect destination for traveling. This heavenly destination is clean and well-managed. After years-long of monotonous, traveling to Bhutan could be an amazing recreation because of everything it offers like trekking, tours, adventure activities, unique culture, and many more.