Bhutan Last Frontier | For tourists Bhutan is an incredibly expensive, strange and unique marvel. While the rest of the world slowly goes insane, Bhutan still remains 100% organic and 100% grounded. The people of Bhutan have been independent now for more than 2,000 years. Tourists were only allowed in since 1974. This landlocked country hidden in the mighty Himalaya is very successful in preserving its ancient traditions, and it promotes only very limited high-value/high-end tourism. Bhutan is a great destination for nature freaks with some spare change.
Bhutan’s natural beauty and biodiversity
Bhutan lies in the heart of the Himalayas – almost forgotten by the rest of the world. Bhutan boasts an incredible landscape and natural beauty along with manmade cultural treasures. The ancient kingdom is a landlocked country East of Nepal. It counts just 730,000 inhabitants (As a comparison: Switzerland – a country with roughly the same size – inhabits 8.5 million people). Apart from them Bengal tigers, clouded leopards, the hispid hare and the sloth bear live in the lush tropical lowlands and hardwood forests in the south. But there is more in the north: Himalayan black bear, red panda, sambar, barking deer … In alpine habitats one can find snow leopards, blue sheep, marmot, the Tibetan wolf, antelopes, Himalayan musk deers and the Takin – Bhutan’s national animal; an oversized goat-kind-of-thing.
Bhutan Tourism Tax
Indian, Bangladeshi & Maldivian nationals pay visa fees on arrival in Bhutan. All other nationals need to pay a ‘Tourism Tax’ of staggering $250 per person, per day in advance. That does not include any accommodation, transportation or food charges. It makes Bhutan a truly expensive destination to visit.
For those tourists planning a solo trip to Bhutan: impossible. You will not be on your own, because the government of Bhutan demands that all tourists enter via a registered local travel agency. All tourists are provided with a private vehicle with a driver and a guide. The upside: No beggars on the streets, no bugging shop keepers, no tourist traps, no air pollution, no stress.
Bhutan last frontier – the East
Bhutan is the nation where the concept of Gross National Happiness was developed. Along with their GDP the nation monitors their citizen’s prosperity by measuring their happiness. This reflects in the warm nature of the people who live here. The best way to experience this might be a stay in the East. Villages in the East are not clustered but take on a different look with isolated households located in the centre of fields. The architectural style is different from other parts of Bhutan. Just compare village houses and temples. You will get the idea. Tourists wanting to experience Bhutan’s rural lifestyle will find the East fascinating. It’s like being in another century. Eastern Bhutanese are called Sharchops. They are known to be super friendly and relaxed.
Bhutan – Places to visit
These are some remarkable places you might want to add to your list when traveling to Bhutan:
Taktshang Goemba (“Tiger’s Nest”) – a Buddhist Monastry, located in the cliffside of the upper Paro valley, 900 meters high. Built in 1692. Entry only for Buddhists. But the outside view is already worth the walk.
Punakha Dzong – arguably the most beautiful dzong in Bhutan, especially in spring when lilac-coloured jacaranda trees bring a lush sensuality to the towering whitewashed walls. This dzong was the second to be built in Bhutan. All of Bhutan’s kings have been crowned here.
Mt. Everest – from Bhutan you can’t climb Mount Everest. But fly into Paro International Airport and get one of the most spectacular landings! It gives you a breathtaking view of the Himalayan range including the highest mountain on earth. When flying towards Paro Airport, claim a seat on the left side of the aircraft and you will see Mt. Everest. The other mountain that you can see from up there in the sky is Mt. Kanchenjunga.
Bhutan – best time to visit
Bhutan has all four seasons. The climate varies depending on your altitude. You can visit Bhutan at any time. There is no ‘high season’ as such. June, July and August fall into the Monsoon season. At this time Bhutan receives a bit more rainfall than other Himalaya regions = not the best time for trekking but glorious sapphire skies and warm weather make it a pleasant time to spend visiting places of cultural and historical interest. Winter (from December to February) is generally sunny, cool and good for hiking. However much of the east-west highway remains snowbound. It’s a good time to tour the western districts of Paro, Wangdue, Punakha, Bhutan’s capital Thimphu and Haa. Still our personal favorites are Spring (blossoms) and Autumn (best Himalayan views).
We recommend to book your Bhutan trip thru an agency. It will save you a lot of time and even a bit of money. 13 days for 3,360 Euros per person, that’s a deal you can’t beat -> WorldExpeditions
Interesting video about Bhutan
Gross National Happiness and Negative Carbon Footprint
The concept was first mentioned in the Constitution of Bhutan, which was enacted on 18 July, 2008. However, the term itself (Gross National Happiness) was coined in 1979 during an interview at Mumbay International Airport in India, when the the King of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, said “We do not believe in Gross National Product. Gross National Happiness is more important.”
Kind of sad for the rest of the world: Bhutan is the only country left with a negative carbon footprint. Extensive forests consume more carbon dioxide than Bhutan emits. The mountainous kingdom has prohibited export of logs. Bhutan owns 72% forested area. This should better be inspiring.
Bhutan Last Frontier – Pick a destination here
Bhutan Last Frontier. By Chili & Chirp | © Hugging Horizons | Visit our -> Travel Alphabet.