Have you ever been to a place that has still preserved its ancient culture and beauty? Have you ever visited a place which is still untouched by rapid globalization? If not, then Bhutan is the place to be. Commonly known as the Land of Thunder Dragon, Bhutan is a small country in South Asia which is surrounded by India, China, Nepal and Bangladesh. Bhutan is not only known for its natural resources and culture but also for its Gross National Happiness. It is the only country to measure the wellbeing, happiness and quality of life of the Bhutanese people. The government of Bhutan places a lot of emphasis on the quality of tourism instead of quantity. This is the reason why Bhutan has been successful in preserving its culture and heritage from the side effects of modernization.
Travelling to Bhutan from India is comparatively easier than Maldives and Bangladesh. Tourists from these countries can easily obtain a Free Entry on Arrival. Indians can also obtain entry through their Voter Id cards. However, for other nationalities, the trip must be pre-planned and booked through a local travel agent. The Visa costs $40 and must be paid well in advance.at present, there are only two airlines that operate their flights to Bhutan: Bhutan Airlines and Druk Air. These flights depart from New Delhi, Kolkata, Kathmandu, Dhaka, Bangkok, Yangoon and Singapore. One can also travel via road from India by crossing the Jaigon and Phuentsholing border or the Samdrup Jongkhar and Gelephu border.
Government of Bhutan has fixed a certain price known as a Minimum Daily Package which varies from season to season and the number of tourists travelling in a group. This Minimum Daily package is non-negotiable and includes transportation, accommodation, meals, various cultural program, porters and guides. Some part of this amount also goes towards free healthcare, education and poverty upliftment in Bhutan.
March, April and May are the best months to visit Bhutan whereas June, July and August are considered off-season due to heavy rainfall. September, October and November months have sunny days with early snowfall. December and January are the coldest months of Bhutan.
Thimpu is the capital city of Bhutan and its largest city. Tourism is a major source of income in Thimpu. Punakha is Bhutan’s former capital city and can be reached in 3 hours from Thimpu. Punakha has the famous and most beautiful Dzong of Bhutan. The Palace of Great Happiness also lies in this administrative centre. Phuentsholing, also known as the financial hub of Bhutan, lies on the Indo- Bhutan border. It is also known to be the friendliest border in the world. Samdrup Jongkhar is known as the oldest town of Bhutan and is also famous for the newest Dzong to be built in Bhutan.
The currency of Bhutan is called the Ngultrum and its value is the same as the Indian Rupee. This means 1 INR is equal to 1 Ngultrum. However, higher denomination notes like Rs. 500 or Rs. 2000 are not accepted in Bhutan. Being a small town, Bhutan does not have an advanced ATM facility and bank services are also very limited. Cash is widely accepted everywhere. Credit cards or cheques are not encouraged at most of places.
Bhutan is famous for its cultural fairs and festivals. The five best festivals of Bhutan include Thimphu Tshechu, Paro Tshechu, Jambay Lhakhang Drup, Punakha Drubchen and Haa Summer Festival. Tourists are bound to have a great time to witness these festivals. These Bhutanese festivals are a perfect example of how this small country has kept its cultural roots intact in this modern era of globalization. Flights and hotels usually tend to get fully booked during the festival time. Hence it is advisable to book your tour at least five months in advance.
Travelling to Bhutan is incomplete without buying its local products. You definitely do not want to miss on the souvenirs from this beautiful country. Be it the handmade cups and bowls, bamboo and cane products, jackets, blankets, wall hangings, bags, etc. Bhutan knows how to promote its tradition and heritage. Silver and gold jewellery, Himalayan beads and other handcrafted ornaments are things to buy as gifts for someone special. Do not forget the beautiful Buddha paintings and sculptures.
Bhutan is Magic. Bhutan is Marvellous. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity to travel in the arms of Bhutan. A country so rich not just in natural resources but also rich in heart.
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