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Home » Destinations » Asia » Bhutan
It is the last great Himalayan kingdom, shrouded in mystery and magic, where a traditional Buddhist culture carefully embraces global developments.
Bhutan holds many surprises. This is a country where the rice is red and where chillies aren’t just a seasoning but the main dish. It’s also a deeply Buddhist land, where monks check their smartphones after performing a divination, and where giant protective penises are painted beside the entrance to many houses. Yet while it visibly protects its Buddhist traditions, Bhutan is not a museum. You will find the Bhutanese well educated, fun loving and well informed about the world around them. It’s this blending of the ancient and modern that makes Bhutan endlessly fascinating.
Firstly, there is the amazing Himalayan landscape, where snow-capped peaks rise above shadowy gorges cloaked in primeval forests. Taking up prime positions in this picture-book landscape are the majestic fortress-like dzongs and monasteries. This unique architecture sets the stage for spectacular tsechus (dance festivals) attended by an almost medieval-looking audience. Then there are the textiles and handicrafts, outrageous archery competitions, high-altitude trekking trails, and stunning flora and fauna. If it’s not ‘Shangri La’, it’s as close as it gets.
Environmental protection goes hand in hand with cultural preservation in Bhutan. By law, at least 60% of the country must remain forested for all future generations; it currently stands above 70%. Not only is Bhutan carbon neutral, but it actually absorbs more carbon than it emits! For the visitor, this translates into lovely forest hikes and superb birding across a chain of national parks. Whether you are spotting takins or blue poppies, trekking beneath 7000m peaks or strolling across hillsides ablaze with spring rhododendron blooms, Bhutan offers one of the last pristine pockets in the entire Himalaya.
Trashi Chho Dzong
You will need a passport and visa to enter and exit Bhutan. Visas are only issued on arrival, but you must apply in advance through a tour operator and receive visa approval before you travel. All visitors (except nationals of Bangladesh, India and the Maldives) must obtain visa clearance from Thimphu before coming to Bhutan.
BEST TIME TO VISIT:
Bhutan has a varied climate which is impacted by the altitude. The best times to visit are in the spring (March – May) and autumn (September to November) months when rainfall is lower and temperatures comfortable. The summer months (June – August) give the highest temperatures but the monsoon rains make this a less ideal time to travel. Winters (December to February) are cool and dry however travel can be restricted due to snowfall at higher altitudes.
PACKAGE TRAVEL & VISAS:
All travel within Bhutan must be pre-booked prior to arrival and a confirmed itinerary required for a visa to be issued. All visitors to Bhutan require a visa. After booking you are required to send the photo-page of your passport to your tour operator who will then apply for your visa.
The national language is Dzongkha and two other major languages are Tshanglakha and the Lhotshamkha, there are also various other dialects spoken throughout the Kingdom.
The Bhutanese currency is the Ngultrum although Indian rupees are widely accepted. US Dollars can be changed at the airport and major towns.
There are no direct flights from the UK to Bhutan and tours start and finish with flights in either Nepal, India or Bangkok through Druk Air as routings are limited. The main entry point is the capital Thimphu.
FLYING TIME FROM UK:
Approx 15 hours (via India).
Bhutan is not a cheap destination with a minimum spend per night in place but this cost includes accommodation, meals, transport, guiding and entrance fees throughout each package.
Discover a journey venturing across the Himalayan Kingdoms, filled with breath taking mountainous landscapes of Sikkim and Bhutan. Experience the hospitable nature of the people, places and culture visiting a number of stunning temples, monasteries and more.
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