Get ready to ride on a mystical journey of Bhutan and explore the western influences while creating fresh trails that burst with vibrancy and spirituality. Unveils the historical monasteries, fortresses (or dzongs) and dramatic landscapes that range from subtropical plains to steep mountains and valleys. This small country in the Himalayas, between the Tibet Autonomous Region of China and India, is closed to the world for many years and is cherished for the stunning natural scenery that woos visitors.
A small country in the Himalayas’ eastern edge between Tibet and a self-governing region of China and India, Bhutan is not an ordinary place. Bhutan is the last great Buddhist kingdom, wrapped in magic and mystery, where a traditional Buddhist culture encapsulates global developments. It is well-known globally for its monasteries, dramatic landscapes and fortresses (or dzongs) that range from subtropical plains to stiff mountains and valleys. A well-organized Bhutan tour is going to be a once-in-a-lifetime travel experience for anyone who visits the country.
Besides the splendid natural scenery, the eternal image of Bhutan for most tourists is the strong sense of tradition and culture that binds the kingdom and distinguishes it clearly from its larger neighbors. It is the only Vajrayana Buddhist nation in the world, and the sapient teachings of this tradition remain preserved and exert a powerful influence in all aspects of life. Because of its immaculate environment and amicable society, the tiny Kingdom of Bhutan have been referred to as 'The Last Shangrila.' Perched high in the Himalaya, Bhutan is a distinctive country both culturally as well as environmentally and has embellished the philosophy of Gross National Happiness - where development is calculated using a holistic approach of well-being and is not just based on the gross domestic product.
Bhutan is considered as a 3rd world country with sustenance farming practiced in much of the country. In a wider sense, the land of Bhutan is fertile and the population is quite less. Moreover, the present generation not only receives free education but all its citizens have access to free medical care as well. Tobacco products sale is banned here and smoking in public areas is an offense that is punished with fines. The major sources of income for the Bhutan Kingdom are agriculture, hydroelectric power, and tourism. Although traditional culture has been preserved wonderfully, the opening of the nation to TV and the internet in the year 1999 has had a notable effect, and modern-day culture is majorly centered on snooker halls and bars. Due to this fact, there is certainly very little or perhaps no evidence of quality contemporary art, music or theatre.
The Kingdom of Bhutan holds many surprises. This is an astonishing nation where the rice is red and where chilies are not just a seasoning but is the main dish. Bhutan is also a deeply Buddhist land, where the monks after performing divination, check their smartphones, and where massive penises are being sketched beside the entrance to many houses. Yet while Bhutan clearly protects its Buddhist traditions, it is not a museum. On your Luxury Bhutan tour, you will find the Bhutanese people well educated, fun-loving and also well-aware about the world around them. It's this unique blending of the ancient and modern that makes Bhutan truly fascinating.
The Culture and Traditions of Bhutan
Culturally, Bhutan is chiefly Buddhist having Dzongkha as a national language, though there are regional variations as well such as Sharchopkha which is the predominant language in Eastern Bhutan. There is a common dress code and style of architecture. Bhutanese people primarily consist of the Ngalops (Western Bhutanese), Sharchops (Eastern Bhutanese) and Lhotshampas (Southern Bhutanese), people of Nepalese Gurkha Origin.
The Bhutanese people take pride in their sustainable approach to tourism which is in line with the philosophy of Gross National Happiness. Foreign tourists pay a minimum tariff of US$250 per day, which makes it seem like one of the world's most expensive destinations. However, this fee is all-inclusive – food, accommodation, transport and also an official guide are all provided, thus a Bhutan tour is really not a bad deal!
Bhutan - The Last Shangri La
So are you wondering why to spend your money to come here, in Bhutan? Firstly, there is the stunning Himalayan landscape, where snow-covered peaks rise above shadowy canyon masked in primeval forests. Taking up significant positions in this directly out of picture-book kind of landscape are the magnificent fortress-like dzongs and monasteries. This distinctive architecture sets the stage for splendid dance festivals (tsechu) that are attended by a vast number of audiences. Then there are the amazing textiles and handicrafts, extravagant archery competitions, splendid flora and fauna as well as high-altitude trekking trails. If it's not 'Shangri La', it's definitely as close as it gets. So, your Bhutan tour is definitely worth the number of visits.
There are a number of good Bhutan tour agents you can find online. Leisure.com is one such reputed and well-experienced Luxury tour agent which makes your Bhutan tour an enchanting travel experience for you.
Best Things to Experience During Bhutan Tour
Bhutan, a small paradise in the Himalayas, is a land of pure happiness! The country’s dramatic landscape sprinkled with history, monastery and mystery tucks at the heartstrings of anyone who visits this royal kingdom. The world’s last great Himalayan kingdom, Bhutan has beautifully balanced the harmony among Buddhist traditions, modern-day living, and nature. The kingdom is truly a land of surprises where chilies are considered to be a vegetable, rice is red and the government calculates development by Gross National Happiness and not by Gross National Product. The beauty of striking flora and fauna and the snow-clad Himalayas, the warm hospitality of peace-loving people, the taste of authentic Tibetan food and the distinctive architecture of Buddhist monasteries are just a few of the interesting things you are going to see and experience during your Bhutan tour. With more and more international tourists visiting the kingdom, Bhutan tourism has also witnessed a significant increase in the last few years. So, Plan a Bhutan trip today and do not leave the country without experiencing the following six things:
Immerse Yourself in the Beauty of the Majestic Himalayas
The view of the mighty Himalayas from the passes in Bhutan is simply unforgettable and mesmerizing. Leave all the crowd behind and venture through the splendid passes of Bhutan, such as the Chele La Pass and Dochula Pass. You will get a clear and more sweeping view of the Himalayas, all covered by snow - definitely a sight to behold forever! You can even catch a glimpse of Mt. Everest and Kanchenjunga here.
Find Your Gross National Happiness
Everyone wants to be happy, Isn’t it? If you too are in search of happiness, then you definitely need to visit Bhutan. This is perhaps the only nation where development is calculated on the basis of Gross National Happiness and not Gross National Product. The Bhutan Government describes tourism as a major way of attaining socio-economic development. It strongly adheres to a policy of ‘High Value, Low Impact’ tourism. Its aim is to foster the country’s cultural heritage, to preserve its sovereign status, conserve the environment and promote the nation as a high-end tourist destination on the basis of Gross Domestic Happiness.
Sightseeing Tours of the Monasteries
Bhutan is lined with numerous forts and monasteries. One doesn’t really need to be a history buff or have a spiritual mind in order to explore the monasteries in Bhutan. Taktsang Monastery, which sits at an altitude of nearly 3120 meters in upper Paro Valley is one place which is highly recommended. Trek up to the Monastery and enjoy the awe-inspiring views of the unperturbed valley over mouth-watering Bhutanese food. Rinpung Dzong Monastery in Paro Valley, Tango and Cheri monasteries in Thimpu, Lhuentse Dzong Monastery in Lhuntse and Rinpung Dzong Monastery in Paro Valley are other splendid places to visit in Bhutan. Venture through the zig-zag roads, catch sight of traditional Buddhist practices and submerge yourself in the world of all-pervading happiness and peace. Chele La Pass, Tiger’s Nest in Paro, Dochula Pass, National Museum Of Bhutan, Paro and Buddha Dordenma Statue in Thimphu are some other famous places to visit in Bhutan.
Taste Authentic Bhutanese Cuisine
Mainly Bhutanese cuisine comprises of rice, beef, pork, chicken, chilies, and cheese. Ema Datshi is the national food of Bhutan. It is a superb mix of local Bhutanese cheese and chilies. Some of the other famous dishes of the Kingdom are Hoentoe, Sikam paa, Shakam paa, Juma and Goep. Undoubtedly, Bhutan is a paradise for meat lovers! Are you someone who is fond of momos? Then your Bhutan tour can spoil you for choices. Worry not! There are a number of options for vegetarians too. So, spice up your stay in Bhutan!
Dive Deep in Adventure Sports
In Bhutan, there are a number of mountain biking trails. Paro to Bumthang route is one of the most famous mountain biking routes in the country. Mountain biking is an amazing way to reach places which are not accessible by foot. Moreover, it also brings you closer to nature and Bhutan is truly a heaven for nature lovers!
Another adventure activity for which Bhutan is well-known globally is trekking. So, undertake a trek in Bhutan during your luxury tour of the Kingdom and fall in love with the unmatched beauty of the Himalayas. Some of the most amazing treks in Bhutan are Gangtey Trek, Snowman Trek, and Druk Path Trek.
When it comes to rafting as an adventure, you don’t really need not to be an expert so as to raft along Mo Chhu River in Bhutan. Cruise along the extravagant waters of Mo Chhu River with your friends and catch a sight of some of the country’s natural and artificial wonders. Our Bhutan tours offer all such amazing adventure activities for all adventure enthusiasts.
Enjoy Souvenir Shopping Spree
Bhutan can give you lavish shopping experience. Paro, Phuentsholing, and Thimphu are the major places for shopping in Bhutan. Tourists can buy sheathes and swords, Himalayan beads, rugs, blankets, wall- hangings, wooden mugs and lots of ornaments such as earrings, necklaces and pins from the country as souvenirs.
Make sure to not leave Bhutan without staying for a day or more in Paro. It is one of the most gorgeous valleys in Bhutan dotted with monasteries, rice paddies, century-old houses, and local shops.
Best Time to Plan Bhutan Tours
The Weather of Bhutan
Though quite small geographically, Bhutan’s weather varies from valley to valley and North to South. It majorly depends upon on the elevation. The North of Bhutan is perennially enclosed with snow. On moving to the eastern, central and western Bhutan such as Thimpu, Paro, Trongsa, Wandue, Ha, Trashi Yangtse, Lhuntse, Bumthang, you are likely to experience weather like Europe.
Winter in Bhutan lasts from November to March with the exception of Punakha since it is situated in a lower valley. Winter is pleasant, while summer is hot. The South of Bhutan on the border with India is hot and humid having a sub-tropical climate. Though, as the monsoon affects the North of India, it does not really have the same kind of effect in Bhutan. The months of summer in Bhutan tend to be wetter with isolated rain majorly in the evenings only. Autumn and spring tend to be pleasant in Bhutan, while winter is the driest period, by far.
Ideal Time to Visit Bhutan
September to November is considered the best time to visit Bhutan. The Kingdom experiences winter from the month of December to February. During winter, the temperature drops to 5 degrees Celsius and this is the perfect time to experience snowfall. You can also plan a Bhutan tour between the months of March and May to catch a sight of Himalayan flowers and experience different festivals.
The sight of countless prayer flags in Bhutan spread the air of spirituality in the Kingdom. With preserved forests, cascading rice paddies, magnificent Himalayan ranges, spectacular monasteries, and the extravagant Paro River, Bhutan is truly a delight for everyone who visits the land. Take a luxury Bhutan tour today and discover how the ‘Shangri La’ just leaves you amazed!
Staying Guidelines for Bhutan Tour
All the towns in Bhutan that are connected by motorable roads have hotels, although the standard of the hotels varies considerably. Hotels of international standard are found mostly in major towns or tourist areas, while five-star accommodation is only available in Jakar, Paro, Punakha, Thimphu, and Gangtey.
It is crucial to note that the hotel rates mentioned on the city articles are only applicable to people having residency, visa exemption (this usually only applies to Indian nationals) or who are visiting Bhutan as an invited guest. Other tourists can only enter the country as part of a tour, for which the rates on a daily basis are set by the Bhutanese authorities at around $250 per person per night. These are irrespective of the hotel (except for some of the very expensive hotels where a surcharge amount is added).
Food Options for Bhutan Tour
While there are abundant restaurants on highways between the major towns in Bhutan and the hygiene standards at these places is acceptable, the quality of the food though is low and the choice of dishes very limited. Therefore, it is generally recommended to prepare food and refreshment for your journey at the point of departure. We make this our priority to provide authentic food experience to our tour clients.
Bhutanese food has one principal flavor - chili! This tiny red condiment is not only added to almost every dish but is also eaten raw since chilies are considered a vegetable in Bhutan. In case, you don't like spicy-hot food, it is important that you make this especially clear beforehand to the tour agent.
Rice is a staple which is taken with every meal. Meat dishes and vegetables cooked with chili and/or cheese comprehend the accompanying cuisine.
Western European food and Hot-pot is now available in some of the restaurants in Thimphu where pork or beef ribs, French fries, pizza etc. are served.
Bhutan is a unique destination, and as such it has a few unique rules. All tourists, except for citizens of Bangladesh, India and the Maldives, must obtain a visa before arriving in Bhutan.
All tourists must book their travel through a local licensed tour operator (or international partner). Visas are applied for online by your local tour operator and it is not required that you visit a Bhutanese Embassy or consulate. Your holiday must be paid in full, via a wire transfer, to the Tourism Council of Bhutan account before a tourist visa is issued. The money remains with the Tourism Council until your travel in-country is complete before the local tour operator is paid.
Visa clearance takes no longer than 72 hours, once full payment has been received. At your point of entry, the visa will be stamped in your passport on payment of USD 40, also prepaid through your tour agent. Visa extensions can be obtained through your local tour operator and the tourist will also be subject to the daily tariff for the additional days.
Things to Know Before Bhutan Tour
Bhutan is a unique travel destination and has some unique rules as well
All tourists, other than citizens of India, Bangladesh, and the Maldives, must obtain a visa before they arrive in Bhutan.
All tourists are required to book their travel through a local licensed tour agent.
You do not need to visit a Bhutanese consulate or Embassy for Visas application. It is applied for online by your local tour agent.
Once full payment has been received, Visa clearance takes no longer than 72 hours.
Visa extensions can be obtained through your local tour agent and the tourist will be subject to the daily tariff for all the additional days.
All About Safety in Bhutan
Bhutan, indeed, is one of the world’s safest places to travel. While domestic violence and drug abuse are common in urban areas, these crimes remain only within the communities and rarely ever affect tourists.
Police in Thimphu and many other parts are quite active and they keep doing rounds late nights around the city so as to ensure safety.
There is a universal health care system in Bhutan - clinics and hospitals are situated throughout the Kingdom, even in the most remote areas. However, tourists should not expect hi-tech facilities.
Indigenous medical facilities are also situated in all district capitals, the largest being in Thimphu. So it is also possible to diagnose and treat ailments using natural herbal compounds while in Bhutan.
In Bhutan, the king and former king are endowed with a great deal of respect, as is Vajrayana Buddhism - the state religion. It is always wise to keep this in mind when conversing with locals in Bhutan.
When visiting temples in Bhutan, remove your shoes and headgear and wear clothing that professes respect for the sacred nature of the site. It is advisable to wear pants and long skirts.
It is needed that you always pass stupas, mani stones and other religious objects with your right side closest to the object, and spin prayer wheels in a clockwise direction. Never sit on stupas or mani stones.
It is a custom to make a small donation to the monks at monasteries as a sign of respect, and also to the Buddhist statues as a gesture of developing a spacious and generous mind. There are several places in every temple where one can donate, and it is generally expected that you donate to each place. Also, make sure to have small notes for this gesture. Although, this is not obligatory.
In Bhutan, know that it is completely illegal to smoke in public places or at monasteries.
Throughout the Bhutan Kingdom, products that contain tobacco such as cigarettes or chewing tobacco are effectively banned and there are severe penalties for use or possession. Note that Bhutan is the only country in the world to do so.
Customize Your Luxury Bhutan Tour
Leisure.com is a platform that has been specifically designed so as to serve a bridge between the highly skilled Bhutan Travel Agents and people who wish to travel the country. These travel specialists and travel agents help their clients in the best way possible throughout their trip. They offer them much needed help to tailor the trip according to the requirements of tourists. These especially customized trips provide an opportunity for the people to travel in the way they wish.
Allow our recommended Bhutan Tour Agents to help you and customize your trip to Bhutan. Tourists can begin the process by filling out the Trip Request form and let us know their trip priorities and requirements. We’ll match these requirements with various Luxury Bhutan Tour Agents and then finalize the best one who will be working with you throughout your Bhutan trip.