Boasting soaring views of snow-capped mountain ranges decorated with prayer flags and dotted with ancient monasteries, a holiday to Bhutan never fails to inspire and entice travellers from far and wide.
This country enchants those visitors who make the journey. This stunning nation – which seems to have been dealt more than its fair share of natural beauty – sits at the eastern end of the Himalayas, sandwiched between India and the Tibetan Plateau. From the iconic fold mountains that dominate the horizon to the forested hills and fast-flowing rivers of the valleys, the ‘Land of the Thunder Dragon’ is home to a great variety of well-conserved ecosystems, and remains as biodiverse, as it is spiritual.
The country has had little interaction with the outside world, resulting in a strong historical cultural identity and a populace keen to make new friends. Holidays here enjoy the endless potential for adventure, cultural immersion and exploration. This includes hiking to Taktshang Monastery which clings to a steep Cliffside, to watching the vibrant festival celebrations at one of the country’s energetic ‘Tsechu’ festivals or heading out in search of the mystical yeti in the Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary.
Did you know?
Bhutan is a unique and often quirky country populated by friendly people, dotted with stunning dzongs perched high atop steep valleys and boasting fantastic Himalayan scenery – it is a truly fascinating place to explore. Read on to learn a few lesser-known facts about this fascinating country:
- The name Bhutan is thought to derive from either the Sanskrit word ‘Bhotant’ meaning the end of Tibet or from ‘Bhu-uttan’ meaning ‘high land’.
- “Gross National Happiness is more important than Gross National Product”. This concept was introduced to Bhutan in 1972 by the 4th King-Father of Bhutan Jigme Singye Wangchuck as the best indicator of the nation’s progress in an attempt to strike a balance between spiritual values and material gain.
- Over 50% of Bhutanese land is protected in some way either as a registered national park or a connecting ‘biological corridor’.
- A prayer wheel, used to accumulate wisdom and merit, should always be turned clockwise to reflect the movement of the sun across the sky.
- The Bhutanese love a good chilli! The national dish is ema datse which is usually large green chillies cooked and covered in cheese sauce, not for the faint-hearted.
- The mystical (and some would say mythical) yeti, or migoi meaning ‘wild man’, is thought to be living in the remote eastern Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary. Apparently sighted by a few local yak herders over the years he varies in size, shape and hair colour but all believe an encounter with him to be extremely lucky as he is said to guard over the people of the region.
- The national dress of Bhutan is the gho for men and the kira for women and is compulsory.
- Thimphu is apparently the only capital city in the world with no traffic lights. A set was introduced many years ago but Thimphu residents regarded them as too impersonal so they were removed and replaced with well-dressed policemen standing in elaborate booths to direct traffic.
- The national bird of Bhutan is the raven and the national animal the takin, an unusual looking goat-antelope.
- The Bhutanese will not shout a person’s name at night as it is believed it may attract a ghost.