Distinct from the whole world, Bhutan is a heavenly paradise for travelers. Trip to Bhutan takes you to a land far from foreign influence and near to natural magnificence. Embark into a journey to a tiny Himalayan kingdom that has preserved ancient Buddhist culture and tradition to date.
Bhutan is a landlocked South Asian country that resides between China and India. The area of Bhutan expands to 38,394 sq.km. King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck has been the monarch of Bhutan since 2008. Bhutan has a population of around 800,000. Bhutan is the second smallest country in South Asia. Thimphu is the capital city of Bhutan, which is the most modern city in Bhutan.
Bhutan, also known as the forbidden kingdom, cut off themselves from the entire world for many years. This Buddhist nation isolated themselves from modernization and resisted modern digital technologies for decades. If these facts are not enough to surprise you then there are many more.
Bhutan is one of the most mysterious countries in the world. Here are some amusing facts about Bhutan that lure travelers to visit Bhutan at least once in their lifetime.
- Taktsang Palphug Monastery (Tiger’s Nest Monastery)
- Jele Dzong fortress (3,436m)
- Tashichho Dzong, the fortress of Dharma Raja
- National Library of Bhutan
- Unique lifestyle of Buddhist influence
- Spectacular view of some high peaks such as Mount Jomolhari, Gangkhar Puensum
- Crossing Nyile La pass (4,850m)
Carbon negative Country
Bhutan is highly concerned about saving the environment to fight climate change and it can be clearly seen in their actions and laws. Their constitution demands at least 60% of the land of Bhutan to be forested. Interestingly, 71% of the land is covered by forest.
Bhutan also holds a record for planting 50,000 trees in just one hour. No wonder, Bhutan is one of the global biodiversity hotspots in the world. In a carbon threatened world, Bhutan is the only carbon negative country in the world. It means carbon dioxide is absorbed more than it is produced.
Their law prohibits burning woods and fuels as a result, Bhutan provides free electricity to the entire people. Their law also prohibits climbing mountains. Bhutan has kept the beautiful mother nature pristine.
Art and Architecture
Bhutan, also known as ‘The land of Thunder Dragon’, have preserved their ancient art and architecture, which can be widely seen around the country. The houses and monasteries of Bhutan have included traditional carved woods and the walls are decorated with colorful mythical paintings. The paintings are mostly of birds, animals, dragons, and different mythical patterns that look beautiful and attractive.
Most of the houses there is a three-story structure, constructed in ginger-bread style. The ground floor is used to keep animals, the first floor to live, and the second floor to keep hay. The monasteries are located at an elevation at a top of hills. It takes a long strenuous walk to reach the monasteries. Tiger’s nest monastery is the most famous monastery of Bhutan which resides at the edge of a cliff. The architecture of Tiger’s Nest is stunning from the inside and outside. It is the major tourist attraction in Bhutan.
Food and Festival
Surrounded by the Himalayas, dense forest, and greenfield, winter comes as a challenge in Bhutan. But the most popular ingredient in Bhutan helps them survive in freezingly cold weather during winter and that is chilies. You will find chilies in abundance in every Bhutanese dish. Their official national dish is Ema Datshi. It is a mouth-watering mixture of chilies and cheese with added vegetables.
Their happiness can also be seen in their vibrant and unique festivals. Several festivals take place at various times annually. Some of the amusing and heartily celebrated festivals of Bhutan are Thimphu Tshechu Festival, Jambay Lhakhang Drup Festival, Paro Tshechu Festival, Haa Summer Festival, etc. Their beliefs and values are reflected in their festivals through music and dancing.
Culture and Tradition
Unspoiled by the western culture, the people in Bhutan wear traditional attire. The attire of male is called gho robe and the attire of female is called Kira. These traditional attires are unique and quite different from what we wear normally, in fact, quite difficult. People other than Bhutanese will find it difficult to wear them without the help of another person.
The Bhutanese tradition gives utmost respect and favor to women. Usually, we hear the parental property being inherited to the eldest son but here in Bhutan, the inheritance goes to the eldest daughter and not the eldest son. After marriage, the man goes to live in the woman’s house. The husband lives in the wife’s house until he builds his own house and is capable of taking care of the family independently.
Gross National Happiness
Around 80% of Bhutanese still follow the traditional way of agriculture. Their economy is highly based on agriculture. The economy of Bhutan is small compared to most of the countries. That’s because the government of Bhutan is more concerned about Gross National Happiness (GNH) than Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Bhutan is one of the few countries in the world that has an official Ministry of Happiness to take care of people’s inner peace.
Bhutan is a country where people strongly believe in family values. They follow the peaceful religion of Buddhism. The students meditate for at least 2 minutes before starting the class in the morning. The Bhutan government provides free education, free health care, and other essentials that are required for agriculture. Their basic needs are easily fulfilled so their simple lifestyle is what keeps them content and happy. A country that is concerned about the happiness of the people first and the economy of the country later, that’s the beauty of Bhutan.
Bhutan has some strict rules implemented in their country such as no hunting, no fishing, no climbing of mountains, no foreign marriage, no foreign clothes, no smoking, no importing of chemical products, and so on. Known as a peaceful country, Bhutan is the first country in the world to ban tobacco. They believe in the negative impacts of tobacco so if they find someone with tobacco, they have to face strict punishment too.
No traffic lights
Bhutan kept itself isolated from the entire world until they opened up in the 70s. Only then they started being familiar with technologies. Bhutan is the last country in the world to introduce television and the internet. Modernization slowly took over Bhutan but Bhutan believes in preserving tradition so to limit modernization where possible, they removed traffic lights. You can see policemen on the roads of Bhutan, mainly in Thimphu, standing in decorated booths, controlling traffic with exaggerated hand motions. Hence, Bhutan becomes the only country in the world with no traffic lights.
The dangerous Paro Airport
Bhutan is enriched with the Himalayas in the North with some untouched high peaks measuring over 7000 meters in height. These high mountains make it difficult to land at Paro airport. The geography of the deep valley where Paro airport is located is in itself difficult. Moreover, the runaway is short. Paro International Airport is the only airport in Bhutan and it also makes it to the list of the most dangerous airport in the world.
There is no radar to guide planes at the airport. Only Bhutan airlines and Druk Air flies to Bhutan. Drukair is the country’s first airline established in 1981. There are hardly 15 certified pilots to fly to Bhutan. They are highly trained to fly in manual mode but to avoid the possible risks, flights are not allowed in the night-time. It means the pilots can fly to Bhutan only during the day-time.
Best time to visit in Bhutan
Spring season can be the best season for the Bhutan tour. March to May is the best time for a trip to Bhutan when the rhododendron forest is dense. You will get to experience the surroundings enhanced by the beauty of blossoming rhododendron. If you are lucky you might also get to see rare black-necked cranes.
October to December is the best time to visit Bhutan as well since the weather is calm and the sky is clear during this time of the year. The weather is neither hot nor too cold.
January and February are not considered as the best time of the year to visit Bhutan since the weather is too cold. It is difficult to tour Bhutan during winter. Visiting Bhutan is not recommended in winter.
From June to September, heavy rainfall is encountered in Bhutan so your Bhutan tour might not be quite fruitful during Monsoon.