6 Reasons You Need to Visit Bhutan
The kingdom of Bhutan is a small, enchanting Himalayan country of 700,000 people. Nestled to the east of Nepal, this vibrant land measures its gross domestic output in terms of happiness as opposed to product. Traveling throughout the country and witnessing the unrelenting smiles of small children and large families is intoxicating.
And yet the country is the epitome of traditional simplicity. (Bhutan only lifted its ban on television and the Internet in 1999.) Talk about the perfect destination for a digital detox! It’s time to grab your passport and pack your hiking gear. The happiest place in the world is calling your name!
Many travelers get discouraged by the daily $250-per-person tax that Bhutan requires. But this Himalayan kingdom is actually incredibly affordable. The fee includes a driver, personal tour guide, standard hotel room accommodations throughout the country, and three meals a day. Of course, you can also opt to stay in one of Bhutan’s luxury resorts. We recommend the Uma by COMO if you’re in the mood for understated luxury and are willing to pay extra.
Bhutan offers some of the most breathtaking views in the world. Whether you’re walking through the vibrant fields of rice paddies, sipping coffee on your hotel deck, or climbing up one of the mountain trails, everywhere you look is picture perfect. Our favorite is the Paro Valley (pictured), which sits on the border of Bhutan and China and is a masterpiece of natural wonder. Cloud-topped Himalayas frame every stretch of the enchanting space.
Most hikes in Bhutan lead up to one of the many secluded monasteries in the Himalayas. So, at the end of your wonderfully exhausting climb, you can rest and receive a blessing from one of the red-cloaked monks. Tiger’s Nest is by far the most well-known monastery in the region. Perched on the edge of a cliff, it requires a precarious walk across jagged rock steps for access. But if you make it to the threshold with a significant other, the Buddhist monks will read your signs and tell you if you’re truly compatible.
King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Queen Jetsun Pema may not have the worldwide recognition of Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge, but they are most definitely as loved by their subjects. Thousands of locals attended the royal couple’s nuptials in 2011, and even more lined the streets to greet the newlyweds. You’ll see huge portraits of the dashing young couple everywhere from the airport runway to little shop windows.
Many of us have tried and loved a hot-stone massage, but this Bhutanese tradition is simply divine. River rocks are placed in hot water, where they crack and steam, releasing key minerals and relieving deep-set aches. Chill in the tub while sipping on home-brewed ginger lime tea. And you can always book a massage. Talk about a heavenly treat!
The colors and design of Bhutan are unlike anything else in the world. Traditional Bhutanese structures preside over the vast green landscapes. Their bright white exteriors provide the perfect contrast for the dozens of monks shrouded in red garments and the rainbow of prayer flags that flutter throughout the sky. Hand carved wood texture lends the buildings extra charm.
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