10 Reasons Why Bhutan Should Be On Your Bucket List
Bhutan, a small country tucked in the green valleys of the Himalayas, is not the most sought after place to visit by tourists. The country hosts less than thirty thousand visitors every year and the pandemic has now reduced the number significantly. However, most of the travellers who have visited Bhutan have only good things to say about this hidden gem.
The Kingdom of Bhutan has everything that a Globetrotter looks for. Serene valleys, aesthetic architecture, hospitable and charming locals and a pocket friendly expense list- Can it get any better?
Here are the Top 10 Reasons why Bhutan should be added to your Bucket List, Right Now!
- The Welcoming and Hospitable Locals
- Gross National Happiness
- Bhutan is Nature’s Abode
- Home to Mind-blowing Architecture
- A Country Rooted in Buddhist Philosophy and Spirituality
- Phallic Symbols and LGBTQ Rights
- One of the Few Countries to have an Active Monarchy
- Less Crowd in Bhutan
- The Mesmerizing Culture and the Teschus
- Last but not the Least, The Local Food
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The Welcoming and Hospitable Locals
While traveling to a new destination, the kind of people you are going to meet is a major concern. Be it the cab drivers or the tour guides, meeting the wrong people can ruin your experience completely. However, No worries in Bhutan! Any tourist visiting the country has to take a licensed guide, reducing the risk of being cheated on. The guides, drivers, shopkeepers and hotel owners are extremely friendly who will not hesitate to chat with you and tell you all about their family, childhood and local legends and stories. Bhutan also has a very low crime rate and a good reputation among solo and women travellers.
Gross National Happiness
This is not an itinerary but one of the most prominent reasons to have the country in your bucket list. Unlike other countries who focus on GDP, an economic metric to measure growth, Bhutan has come up with GNH, Gross National Happiness, which is embedded in its Buddhist philosophy and spirituality that functions as the foundation for the country. The idea of growth has shifted to individual contentment from per capita income. When one visits the country, they can feel the joy in the air. The people, irrespective of age and gender, reflect this happiness through their welcoming smile and nurturing hands. Feeling down or being depressed is a hard thing to do when you are surrounded by happy, joyful people.
Bhutan is Nature’s Abode
If you are a fan of the mountains, then there’s no reason to convince you. But even for those who aren’t drawn to the mountains, Bhutan will charm you with it’s valleys. Thimphu Valley is one of the most beautiful locations you can set your eyes on. Bhutan is also one of the most environmentally conscious countries in the world. 70 percent of the country is under forest cover. It is also because of their roots in Spirituality that they believe natural conservation to be one important reason behind overall happiness.
Home to Mind-blowing Architecture
Bhutan’s genius architectural designs and marvels have received praises from all over the world. Beautifully designed multi-coloured wood, small arched windows and sloped roofs are some prominent features of the Kingdom’s architecture which are displayed on their traditional houses, temples and ancient fortresses. In fact, Bhutan’s architecture has inspired architects around the world and as a result an entire university campus in Texas was built in Bhutanese style.
PS – This Bhutan Photo Blog will definitely fasten up your decision making process, and will put Bhutan on the top of your Travel Bucket List.
A Country Rooted in Buddhist Philosophy and Spirituality
The moment one lands in Bhutan, they’ll see colourful flags fluttering all around. The kingdom is deeply rooted in it’s Buddhist teachings, giving one a sense of calmness and peace that is rare to experience. There are a number of monasteries and temples throughout the kingdom that spread the message of Buddhist philosophy through their peaceful meditative halls. Blessings and prayers for all sentient beings are continuously offered in the temples and monasteries of the country.
Phallic Symbols and LGBTQ Rights
A kingdom that believes in a century old philosophy, might come across as conservative. But shockingly enough, in the country of Bhutan, they are open about topics that the rest of the world think of as a taboo. Phallic Symbols are a concept unique to Bhutan in which they consider male genitals as sacred. These phallic symbols help to ward off evil spirits and drive malicious gossip away and are also a symbol of fertility and good luck. One can even buy phallus keychains, phallus paintings or wooden phalluses in the handicraft shops. Interestingly, in 2020 Bhutan also took steps to ease the restrictions around homosexuality. Once approved by the King, the country will be joining it’s other asian peers, giving equal rights to everyone.
One of the Few Countries to have an Active Monarchy
Despite the negative connotation a Monarchy gets, Bhutan, to everyone’s surprise, has an active Monarchy where most of its population has love and affection for their King. The current reigning monarch, the fifth King, King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, fondly known as the People’s King is a beloved monarch in Bhutan. He is known for its vision, compassion, down-to-earth personality and selflessness. People often have his photograph hanging in their homes or shops to show their love for their King. Who knows, you might meet him while hiking up the sacred Tiger’s Nest monastery. Plenty of tourists before have luckily bumped into the king during their trips as well.
Less Crowd in Bhutan
As the country only hosts less than 30 thousand tourists a year, you will definitely find a lot of space in the country. There is absolutely no rush at the restaurants, museums, temples, monasteries, or at the mountain top. The country has very little crowd, so there are almost no lines anywhere, no extra heads in your perfect shot. The country follows a very strict tourism policy, so you have to book your trip with a licensed tour guide. You will be following their “High Value, Low Impact” strategy, contributing to their sustainable tourism goal.
The Mesmerizing Culture and the Teschus
In Bhutan, legends and myths are intertwined with reality and history which sustains this majestic culture. Take the Tiger’s Nest for example where Tibetan Buddhist Master Guru Padmasambhava is said to have flown on the back of a flying tiger. Another cultural phenomenon called, Tsechus, or masked dance festivals are a large part of Bhutanese culture and a fascinating scene to behold. Traditional music plays as Buddhist Monks perform ancient dances dating back as far as the 16th century, to ward off evil spirits or to re-enact notable historic events. Both, attending a Tsechu in Bhutan and Hiking up Tiger’s Nest are some of the Best Things You Should Definitely Do in Bhutan.
Last but not the Least, The Local Food
A memorable trip to Bhutan is impossible to complete without having the delicious food. Bhutanese food evolved with a focus to help the locals survive amid harsh winter climates. Be sure to order up a plate of Ema datshi – a dish made from chili peppers and Yak’s cheese that’s a staple at most dinner tables. They also have steamy dumplings that you’ll crave in the chilly evenings.
These were 10 reasons why Bhutan should be a must on your bucket list. The country is a rare gem, covered with extensive beauty and grace. To rejuvenate your body and soul for the year that’s knocking on the door, visiting Bhutan could be a good plan.
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