Fortresses. Monasteries. Steep mountains. Huge valleys. Whereas it might sound like a backdrop from a Sport of Thrones episode, what I’m actually describing is the surroundings from my latest journey to the Kingdom of Bhutan (my 114th nation visited)! Final April I spent 10 days exploring Bhutan on G Adventures’ aptly named Bhutan Journey group tour— and what a journey it was! It was a pleasure to find this enchantingly stunning nation for myself. Simply check out these views:
Should you simply scratched your head whereas muttering “Bhu-where?” you’re not alone, as Bhutan isn’t on most vacationers’ radar (but). This tiny, landlocked Asian nation is discovered within the Himalayas Mountain Vary and is bordered by India and Tibet.
With solely 700,000 inhabitants, Bhutan, which is geo-politically situated in South Asia, is the area’s second least populous nation after the Maldives.
Whereas the capital of the Bhutan is Thimphu, you’ll doubtless contact down within the metropolis of Paro, the positioning of Bhutan’s solely worldwide airport. Paro is a simple 90-minute drive from Thimphu.
Flights to Bhutan/ Attending to Bhutan by air
As I discussed earlier than, Paro Airport is Bhutan’s solely worldwide airport. It’s serviced by two nationwide carriers, Druk Air and Bhutan Air. You may fly into Bhutan from Bangkok, Singapore, Delhi, Kathmandu, and several other different cities within the area.
Since I used to be already in Hong Kong for work, I arrived by airplane from Kathmandu, Nepal, the place I had had an in a single day layover (sidebar: if you happen to’ve by no means been to Nepal, I counsel coughing up the money for a visa on arrival and popping into the town for at the least one afternoon).
I additionally extremely advocate flying into Bhutan from Kathmandu if you happen to can swing it, as you get to fly proper previous Mount Everest, the tallest mountain on the planet!
With that stated, flights to Bhutan on Druk Air and Bhutan Air don’t come low cost, with spherical journey fares from the cities I discussed ringing in at minimal $400 USD per particular person. Add that to the price of flying right into a connecting metropolis within the first place (say, NYC to Bangkok) and also you’re spending a fairly penny on airfare.
It will get chilly! The Kingdom of Bhutan is generally situated at a excessive altitude. This excessive elevation implies that, regardless of being in South Asia, the temperature in Bhutan can get fairly chilly throughout the day and particularly at night time. Climate also can change straight away relying on which a part of the nation you end up in. Professional tip: pack at the least one fleece jacket and thick wool socks. Layers are key on this local weather!
Bhutan has by no means been colonized. Bhutan is likely one of the few nations on the planet to by no means have been colonized (take that British/French/Dutch 😂🙃), so it retains a singular cultural heritage rooted in its explicit type of Buddhism. The structure right here can also be distinctive, and the all the colorful textiles virtually made me need to purchase an additional suitcase so I may cart the whole lot dwelling!
Bhutan is/was a rustic of bans. The federal government in Bhutan has banned the usage of plastic luggage and the sale of tobacco. Tv and entry to the web had been additionally banned till 1999. Sidebar– web connectivity continues to be fairly shaky so be ready for that once you go to!
Bhutan is the one nation on the planet to formally measure nationwide happiness. As an alternative of GDP (Gross Home Product), the federal government locations an emphasis on GNH– Gross Nationwide Happiness. There are 4 pillars of GNH: environmental conservation, preservation of and promotion of tradition, sustainable and equitable socio-economic improvement, and good governance.
As somebody who was raised in a capitalist society preoccupied with financial development, the concept of measuring happiness in a nationwide and official capability is one that’s each novel and refreshing!
Not fairly an attention-grabbing truth, however– a small notice on Touring Whereas Black in Bhutan. Throughout my 10 days in Bhutan I solely noticed a complete of three black folks: a person and his two daughters. After all, in true Oneika vogue, I approached them and came upon they had been from Switzerland. #blackacknowledgementmatters
However I digress. Whereas the “lack of melanin” on my travels isn’t something new, one factor that I discovered attention-grabbing is that NOT EVEN ONE PERSON stared at me in Bhutan or requested to take my image. I can not specific how refreshing that is– a lot as I like to attach with people and promote intercultural studying and all that jazz, typically a sista simply needs to stay her finest black life with out being handled like a specimen or a science exhibit.
You may’t travel to Bhutan independently– you will need to go to Bhutan as a part of a tour. I repeat, you can not go to Bhutan and not using a information.
Maintain up, say what now?! I’ve piqued your curiosity about travelling to Bhutan and now I’m saying you may’t go and not using a tour?! Alas, until you maintain Indian, Maldivian, or Bangladeshi citizenship, it’s not potential to go to Bhutan and not using a guided tour. All different nationalities should enlist a tour firm with a purpose to get their tourist visas accredited. What’s extra is that when you’re there, the one accredited technique to get across the nation and go to its numerous points of interest is with a tour information!
Bhutan has a compulsory day by day payment that vacationers should spend, and it’s not low cost. Bhutan is a frontrunner in sustainable travel and has a “excessive worth, low impression” coverage with regards to tourism– this permits for the safety of each the nation’s setting and cultural heritage.
How does this present itself in actual phrases, you ask? Nicely, whereas the variety of vacationers permitted to go to the nation just isn’t restricted per se, imposing an costly necessary day by day tourist payment implies that visiting Bhutan is restricted to those that can afford to (or actually actually need to).
So simply how a lot does it price to travel to Bhutan? Nicely, it’s a bit difficult. Generally, visiting Bhutan will price between $200 to $250 USD a day.
Per Bhutan’s tourism web site:
“The minimal day by day package deal for vacationers travelling in a bunch of three individuals or extra is as follows:
• USD $200 per particular person per night time for the months of January, February, June, July, August, and December.
• USD $250 per particular person per night time for the months of March, April, Could, September, October, and November.”
Travelling with two folks or solo? Count on to pay a surcharge along with the minimal day by day package deal charges. Teams of two pays a further $30 USD an evening, and solo travellers to Bhutan pays a further $40 USD an evening.
The minimal day by day package deal consists of the next:
• A licensed Bhutanese tour information at some point of your keep
• A minimal of three star lodging (4 & 5 star might require a further premium).
• All meals
• All floor transport inside the nation (inside flights aren’t included)
• Tenting tools
After all, this begs the query: is Bhutan price as much as $290 a day? Should you can afford it, completely!
Whereas planning a visit to Bhutan might be daunting, my expertise was a breeze because of having signed up for a Bhutan tour with G Adventures. I did the 10 day Bhutan Journey tour, which begins and ends in Paro. This complete itinerary supplies a fantastic snapshot into the tradition, points of interest, and nature of Bhutan: we visited Bhutan’s famed fortresses, often known as “dzongs”, met Buddhist monks, and did plenty of trekking by way of mountain passes and scenic nature trails.
There are a ridiculous variety of stunning locations to go to in Bhutan and we hit us lots of them on the tour. Right here’s a sneak peek:
Reserving a Bhutan tour with G Adventures mainly takes all of the guesswork out of planning a visit to Bhutan. They prepare all Bhutan tourist visas, help with flights into Bhutan, and primarily handle all logistics in an effort to concentrate on having fun with your journey.
My go to to Bhutan was crammed with so many highlights that it’s troublesome to decide on one. However if you happen to twist my arm, one expertise stands out greater than most: assembly the nuns of the Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Nunnery in Punakha, Bhutan!
Don’t let the shaved heads idiot you– these are certainly women within the image. Regardless of not with the ability to actually talk with one another verbally (their English is restricted, my Bhutanese is non-existent), they confirmed me their pose recreation was STRONG, boldly and deftly modeling after I requested to take their photograph. I imply, peep the imply muggin’ sis on my proper is doing. Doesn’t this seem like a hip hop album cowl? 😂
In addition to the enthusiastic welcome, this go to was particular as a result of, whereas I’ve been to a great deal of monasteries in my travels, that is the primary time that I can recall visiting a nunnery. I used to be stunned to study that Bhutanese women and girls usually select to turn into nuns not due to faith, however as a result of these coaching facilities supply higher possibilities for them to obtain a high quality training.
Why? Nicely, sadly, like in lots of locations within the growing world, there’s a gender hole in secondary education in Bhutan. Many mother and father residing in rural areas can not afford to ship all of their kids to high school, in order that they prioritize their boys’ training, relegating women to home labour. 😥😠
For that reason, over 50% of those women be a part of nunneries as a way of free, various education. Lack of funding and gender stereotypes stay the first deterrents to ladies’ tutorial improvement in Bhutan. Right here’s hoping that point and larger consciousness will gasoline larger entry to training for them in future.
Regardless of all this, assembly these women was the spotlight of my tour of Bhutan with G Adventures, and a memorable interplay I’ll treasure for years to return!
Visiting the Kingdom of Bhutan might be costly and troublesome relying on the place you’re flying in from. Nonetheless, regardless of this, I feel that Bhutan is an attention-grabbing and particular nation nicely price your time!
Have you ever ever heard of Bhutan? What else would you wish to learn about it?