Bhutan is a unique country both culturally and environmentally. Perched high in the Himalayas, it is the world’s last remaining Buddhist Kingdom. It has developed the philosophy of Gross National Happiness; where development is measured using a holistic approach of well-being, not just based on gross domestic product. Chilies are considered a vegetable and ema datshi the national dish. Ema datchi consists of green chilies mixed in with a Bhutanese cheese sauce. It is still termed as a third world country with subsistence farming practiced in much of the country. In broad terms the land is fertile and the population small. In addition, the current generation receives free education, and all citizens have access to free, though rudimentary, medical care. The sale of tobacco products is banned and smoking in public areas is a fineable offense.
Major sources of income for the kingdom are tourism, hydroelectric power and agriculture.
While traditional culture has been very well preserved, the opening of the country to TV and internet in 1999 has had a major effect, and modern-day culture is mostly centred on bars and snooker halls. As a result, there is very little or no evidence of quality contemporary art, theatre or music.
Culturally, Bhutan is predominantly Buddhist with Dzongkha as a national language (although there are regional variations - such as Sharchopkha, the predominant language in Eastern Bhutan), and a common dress code and architectural style. Bhutanese people primarily consist of the Ngalops and Sharchops, called the Western Bhutanese and Eastern Bhutanese, and Lhotshamphas (Southern Bhutanese), a people of Nepalese Gurkha Origin, respectively. The Ngalops primarily consist of Bhutanese living in the western part of the country. Their culture is closely related to that of their neighbor to the north, Tibet.
The kingdom became a parliamentary democracy in March 2008 at the initiation of the Fourth King. Despite that, many steps still need to be done towards a real democracy, as up to today Bhutanese people and foreigners are not allowed to marry, and even international marriages are not recognized from the Bhutanese government, resulting impossible for a Bhutanese to marry a foreigner and to live there with the family as any rights are given. Therefore, foreigners willing to visit Bhutan can do that but shall be aware that it is not a real democracy but a regime, where people are not free and where difference of opinions and speech do not exist in reality. The tourist shall know that everything that they know from outside Bhutan is wisely written by the government inside, to convey an idilliac image of the Country, which is not real. Bhutan still lacks in human rights and the power in charge is still managing the country in a medieval way. Reports have been made of westeners badly treated by high officials only because being "foreigners".
Duration – 7nights / 8days
Tour highlights: Culture, Monasteries and Peoples
Day 1: Arrive at Paro – Thimpu
Fly to Paro by Druk Air. Meet the guide and drive along the valley to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. Settle into the hotel and walk around the town with your guide. Dinner and overnight at Hotel.
Day 2: Thimphu sightseeing
Visit the National memorial chorten, folk heritage museum, textile museum, the school of arts and Zilukha nunnery. Evening ends with a walk through Thimphu’s main shopping areas. Dinner and overnight at hotel.
Day 3: Thimphu – Punakha
Drive to Punakha through the Docho La – ‘la’ (3050m), breathtaking panoramic views of the mighty Himalayas are spread out around us. Visit Punakha Dzong located between the rivers of the Mo (Female) Chu and Pho (Male) Chu. Dinner and overnight at hotel.
Day 4: Punakha – Gangtey
Drive to Gangtey which lies to the east of Punakha and Wangdue passing Gangtey Gompa then enter the Phobjikha Valley the most beautiful valley in the Himalayas a winter home to black-necked cranes. Dinner and overnight at hotel.
Day 5: Gangtey – Wangdue.
In the morning; walk around Phobjikha Valley and Khewa Valley with an old temple. In the afternoon drive to Wangdue. Dinner and overnight at hotel.
Day 6: Wangdue – Paro.
Morning visit Wangdiphodrang Dzong and small hike to Chimi Lhakhang. After lunch, visit mini zoo to see National animal of Bhutan called TAKIN and drive to Paro. Dinner and overnight at hotel.
Day 7: Hike to Taktsang and Paro Sightseeing.
Drive to Ramthangkha and hike up to the Taktsang monastery (Tiger’s nest) which is one of the most venerated pilgrim sites of the world is located above 2,950m. Then visit Kyichu Lhakhang and Paro market. Dinner and overnight at hotel.
Day 8: Depart Paro
After breakfast; Bhutanese escort will bid you farewell at Paro airport and fly back to home.
Tour cost: USD 1480 (1-3 person) and USD 1340 (4-12 person)
Single supplements charge: USD 120
Note: One person half of the tour cost for 12-14 person and group leader free of tour cost above 15 person.
Flight cost: It depends on the sector and USD 442 round trip if kathmandu sector
Visa: USD 20 and TDF: USD 10
Tour cost includes
Royalty, accommodation on twin sharing basis, all meals, sightseeing with English speaking guide, all transportation overland, entrance fee to the monuments etc.
Tour cost does not include
Bhutan visa fee, airfares, expense of personal nature like cold drinks and tips, personal travel health insurance etc.