Fortresses. Monasteries. Steep mountains. Huge valleys. While it might sound like a backdrop from a Recreation of Thrones episode, what I’m really describing is the scenery from my current trip to the Kingdom of Bhutan (my 114th country visited)! Last April I spent 10 days exploring Bhutan on G Adventures’ aptly named Bhutan Adventure group tour— and what a journey it was! It was a pleasure to discover this enchantingly lovely country for myself. Simply check out these views:
If you simply scratched your head whereas muttering “Bhu-where?” you’re not alone, as Bhutan isn’t on most tourists’ radar (but). This tiny, landlocked Asian nation is found within the Himalayas Mountain Range and is bordered by India and Tibet.
With solely 700,000 inhabitants, Bhutan, which is geo-politically situated in South Asia, is the region’s second least populous country after the Maldives.
While the capital of the Bhutan is Thimphu, you’ll possible touch down in the metropolis of Paro, the location of Bhutan’s solely international airport. Paro is a simple 90-minute drive from Thimphu.
Flights to Bhutan/ Getting to Bhutan by air
As I discussed before, Paro Airport is Bhutan’s only international airport. It is serviced by two nationwide carriers, Druk Air and Bhutan Air. You’ll be able to fly into Bhutan from Bangkok, Singapore, Delhi, Kathmandu, and a number of other different cities in the region.
Since I was already in Hong Kong for work, I arrived by aircraft from Kathmandu, Nepal, where I had had an in a single day layover (sidebar: if you’ve never been to Nepal, I recommend coughing up the cash for a visa on arrival and popping into the town for a minimum of one afternoon).
I additionally extremely advocate flying into Bhutan from Kathmandu if you can swing it, as you get to fly proper past Mount Everest, the tallest mountain on the planet!
With that stated, flights to Bhutan on Druk Air and Bhutan Air don’t come low cost, with spherical journey fares from the cities I mentioned ringing in at minimum $400 USD per individual. Add that to the price of flying into a connecting metropolis within the first place (say, NYC to Bangkok) and you’re spending a reasonably penny on airfare.
It will get chilly! The Kingdom of Bhutan is usually situated at a high altitude. This excessive elevation signifies that, regardless of being in South Asia, the temperature in Bhutan can get fairly chilly through the day and especially at night time. Climate also can change instantly depending on which a part of the country you end up in. Professional tip: pack at the least one fleece jacket and thick wool socks. Layers are key on this local weather!
Bhutan has by no means been colonized. Bhutan is among the few nations on the earth to by no means have been colonized (take that British/French/Dutch 😂🙃), so it retains a singular cultural heritage rooted in its specific form of Buddhism. The architecture right here can also be distinctive, and the all the colorful textiles virtually made me need to purchase an extra suitcase so I might cart the whole lot house!
Bhutan is/was a rustic of bans. The government in Bhutan has banned using plastic luggage and the sale of tobacco. Tv and access to the internet have been additionally banned till 1999. Sidebar– web connectivity continues to be pretty shaky so be ready for that when you go to!
Bhutan is the only nation on the earth to officially measure nationwide happiness. As an alternative of GDP (Gross Domestic Product), the government locations an emphasis on GNH– Gross Nationwide Happiness. There are four pillars of GNH: environmental conservation, preservation of and promotion of culture, sustainable and equitable socio-economic improvement, and good governance.
As somebody who was raised in a capitalist society preoccupied with financial progress, the thought of measuring happiness in a nationwide and official capability is one that is both novel and refreshing!
Not fairly an fascinating reality, but– a small word on Traveling Whereas Black in Bhutan. Throughout my 10 days in Bhutan I solely saw a complete of three black individuals: a person and his two daughters. In fact, in true Oneika style, I approached them and came upon they have been from Switzerland. #blackacknowledgementmatters
However I digress. While the “lack of melanin” on my travels isn’t something new, one factor that I found fascinating is that NOT EVEN ONE PERSON stared at me in Bhutan or requested to take my image. I can’t categorical how refreshing that is– much as I like to join with people and promote intercultural learning and all that jazz, typically a sista just needs to stay her greatest black life with out being treated like a specimen or a science exhibit.
You possibly can’t travel to Bhutan independently– you must go to Bhutan as part of a tour. I repeat, you can’t visit Bhutan with no guide.
Hold up, say what now?! I’ve piqued your interest about travelling to Bhutan and now I’m saying you can’t go with no tour?! Alas, until you maintain Indian, Maldivian, or Bangladeshi citizenship, it isn’t potential to visit Bhutan and not using a guided tour. All other nationalities should enlist a tour firm in order to get their vacationer visas accepted. What’s more is that when you’re there, the only authorised approach to get around the nation and go to its numerous points of interest is with a tour information!
Bhutan has a compulsory day by day charge that vacationers should spend, and it’s not low cost. Bhutan is a pacesetter in sustainable travel and has a “high value, low impact” policy when it comes to tourism– this enables for the protection of both the country’s setting and cultural heritage.
How does this manifest itself in actual terms, you ask? Nicely, whereas the variety of vacationers permitted to visit the nation isn’t restricted per se, imposing an costly obligatory day by day tourist payment signifies that visiting Bhutan is restricted to those that can afford to (or really actually need to).
So just how a lot does it value to travel to Bhutan? Properly, it’s a bit difficult. Usually, visiting Bhutan will value between $200 to $250 USD a day.
Per Bhutan’s tourism website:
“The minimum day by day package deal for tourists travelling in a gaggle of 3 persons or extra is as follows:
• USD $200 per individual per night time for the months of January, February, June, July, August, and December.
• USD $250 per individual per night time for the months of March, April, Might, September, October, and November.”
Travelling with two individuals or solo? Anticipate to pay a surcharge in addition to the minimum day by day package deal charges. Groups of two can pay a further $30 USD an evening, and solo travellers to Bhutan can pay a further $40 USD an evening.
The minimum day by day package deal consists of the next:
• A licensed Bhutanese tour guide at some stage in your keep
• A minimal of 3 star accommodation (four & 5 star might require a further premium).
• All meals
• All ground transport inside the nation (inner flights will not be included)
• Tenting gear
In fact, this begs the query: is Bhutan value up to $290 a day? If you can afford it, absolutely!
Whereas planning a visit to Bhutan might be daunting, my experience was a breeze due to having signed up for a Bhutan tour with G Adventures. I did the 10 day Bhutan Adventure tour, which begins and ends in Paro. This complete itinerary supplies a terrific snapshot into the tradition, points of interest, and nature of Bhutan: we visited Bhutan’s famed fortresses, referred to as “dzongs”, met Buddhist monks, and did a lot of trekking by means of mountain passes and scenic nature trails.
There are a ridiculous number of lovely places to visit in Bhutan and we hit us lots of them on the tour. Here’s a sneak peek:
Reserving a Bhutan tour with G Adventures principally takes all of the guesswork out of planning a trip to Bhutan. They organize all Bhutan vacationer visas, assist with flights into Bhutan, and primarily maintain all logistics in order that you can give attention to having fun with your trip.
My visit to Bhutan was crammed with so many highlights that it’s troublesome to select one. But if you twist my arm, one expertise stands out greater than most: assembly the nuns of the Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Nunnery in Punakha, Bhutan!
Don’t let the shaved heads fool you– these are indeed women within the picture. Despite not being able to really communicate with each other verbally (their English is restricted, my Bhutanese is non-existent), they confirmed me their pose recreation was STRONG, boldly and deftly modeling once I asked to take their photograph. I mean, peep the mean muggin’ sis on my right is doing. Doesn’t this appear to be a hip hop album cowl? 😂
Apart from the enthusiastic welcome, this go to was special as a result of, whereas I’ve been to a great deal of monasteries in my travels, that is the first time that I can recall visiting a nunnery. I was stunned to study that Bhutanese women and girls typically select to develop into nuns not because of faith, however as a result of these training facilities supply better possibilities for them to receive a top quality schooling.
Why? Nicely, sadly, like in many places in the creating world, there is a gender gap in secondary education in Bhutan. Many mother and father dwelling in rural areas can’t afford to send all of their youngsters to faculty, in order that they prioritize their boys’ schooling, relegating women to home labour. 😥😠
Because of this, over 50% of those women be a part of nunneries as a way of free, various education. Lack of funding and gender stereotypes stay the primary deterrents to women’ educational improvement in Bhutan. Right here’s hoping that point and larger consciousness will gasoline larger access to schooling for them in future.
Regardless of all this, assembly these women was the spotlight of my tour of Bhutan with G Adventures, and a memorable interplay I’ll treasure for years to come!
Visiting the Kingdom of Bhutan could be costly and troublesome depending on the place you’re flying in from. Nevertheless, regardless of this, I feel that Bhutan is an fascinating and special country nicely value your time!
Have you ever heard of Bhutan? What else would you like to find out about it?