Bhutan, Land of the Thunder Dragon, is a fascinating country to visit, with the most spectacular scenery of any of the countries I have visited.
Although it is a developing country, poverty is not in your face compared with many other adjacent countries.
Less than 10 years ago the country was an absolute monarchy under King Jigme Singye Wangchuck.
In 2008 the King, as part of his desire to reform Bhutan, transferred administrative power to a council of ministers and parliamentary elections were held.
One of the other reforms of the King was the introduction of Surveys of ‘Gross National Happiness’ as an important measure of progress in the country.
Around the same time the king transferred power he also abdicated in favour of his son, the current Dragon King, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck.
Although the new King is now a constitutional monarch he is much loved and you will see pictures of the royal family everywhere you go.
Culture and Religion
Preserving the Culture is a priority which is emphasised by the requirement that traditional clothes have to be worn by locals for all official business and even attendance at school.
Although Bhutan is Buddhist religion is so closely interwoven into the everyday culture that a local told me she didn’t realise she was Buddhist until.she left Bhutan to study,
The Bhutan tourism policy is high-value, low-volume which means to get a visa you need to demonstrate a minimum daily spend.
The normal procedure is to book your holiday through a local tourist operator who will organise your visa, accommodation, vehicle, driver and english speaking guide.
Travelling around Bhutan without a tourist operator would be extremely difficult as you need a permit to cross district boundaries.
Bhutan’s currency is the Ngultrum (BTN) which has the same value as the Indian rupee (also legal in Bhutan)
Travel Hack 1
Even in the valleys Bhutan is 2,000m above sea level.
You may be keen to visit the iconic Tiger’s Nest Temple but its a climb of around another 1,000m above the valley.
If, like me, you normally live at sea level don’t attempt it on the first few days, but allow yourself time to acclimatise and go at the end of your holiday.
Travel Hack 2
Like to see Bhutan and help the Bhutanese people? . . . . Disaster Aid Australia has a project to provide safe drinking water to all 120 central schools.
You can have a holiday in Bhutan and give a water filter to a school.
Find out more at Bhutan 2020
Disclosure: The author, and owner of this website, volunteers for Disaster Aid Australia.