Bhutan is a small country crammed between China and India in the Himalayan mountains, nicknamed “The Land of the Thunder Dragon.” Because of several factors (including the geopolitical position), Bhutan claims a spot in the list of the least visited countries of the world, despite the fact that you have plenty of reasons to see it at least once.
After finding a high-quality magnifying glass to see where exactly this country is located, you’ll surely be intrigued to find out more about it, and you’ll discover a nation in which the monks outnumber the soldiers, and the GDP is seen as less important than overall happiness.
What makes Bhutan stand out
Speaking of the GDP and happiness, Bhutan is the only country in the world that has a Gross National Happiness Index that is used to measure the overall prosperity of the nation. This approach should give you an indication of the way people of this country view life, even more so as education and healthcare are free in this small Asian nation.
The Bhutanese still embrace their ancient traditions and folklore to the point where you’ll really feel like you stepped back in time. Sure, you’ll have the Wi-Fi and the smartphone if you need them, but you’ll notice how people of this country embrace old methods for cooking or farming and how they wear their traditional clothes not only for festivals or tourists.
Some of the festivals and traditions that are celebrated here date back to as far as the 16th century!
The green land
The people of Bhutan and the government take the environment seriously! Bhutan holds the record for being the only state on the map, which is carbon neutral and also the only one to be carbon negative, aka they offset more carbon dioxide than the amount created in their country.
The government has stated that it intends to keep the country at least 70% covered with forests even now when neighbouring countries like Nepal, India or China have less than 30% of their surface covered in forests.
As a tourist, this means you’ll enjoy some of the best quality air on the entire planet, skies on which you can actually see the stars every night and green all around you! By taking care of the environment, Bhutan has made itself one of the least polluted and most green countries in the world!
What do you need to visit Bhutan?
Tourism started to develop in Bhutan only around 1974 when the government opened the country to foreigners and promoted their traditions and culture in order to raise the country’s revenue. While that year only 287 people visited the county, the number rose to 2,850 by the early 1990s. In 1999, there were 7,158 registered tourists in the country.
As of now, the number of tourists every year exceeds 250,000 people, mostly from other Asian countries like India, Singapore, and Malaysia, but also from European countries like France and Germany. The number of tourists is growing every year, but the country is not yet worried about that since it doesn’t affect them as of now.
Because Bhutan is looking to be considered a high-value destination that not everybody can visit, the country has a daily fee of 250 dollars imposed on tourists. While that sounds scary, you should know that this fee also covers the hotel accommodation and the tours you plan on having around the city you’re staying in.
The policy of Bhutan regarding tourism is that only a certain number of people may enter the country at a given time. This stops the country and its inhabitants from being overwhelmed with tourists. As a result, people can experience the Bhutan lifestyle in its original form and people don’t have to alter it for high demands either.
As soon as you enter Bhutan, you will be given an entry permit for 7 or 14 days, which can be used only for Paro and the capital city, Thimphu. The rest of the country falls under the “Restricted Area” category, and in order to visit it, you will need a special permit.
Also, for visiting the Buddhist temples of the country, you’ll need a so-called Temple Permit, which can only be obtained from the Ministry of Culture. All citizens must apply for a visa to enter the country, except for Indian citizens, while the citizens of Bangladesh and the Maldives only need a valid passport.
It may sound scarily complicated at times, but in reality, it’s not, and all the hassle you think you’ll have to go through is surely worth it once you step on this land. Book your reservation now and prepare yourself to see a country different from any other country you have ever visited!