So, you’ve booked your Bhutan trip… Or, maybe you just discovered a stunning photo of the famed Tiger’s Nest monastery (Taktshang Goemba) perched atop a jagged precipice on a mountain cliff and you’re ready to go! It could be that you saw Tshering Togbay’s TED Talk about Bhutan’s famed commitment to Gross National Happiness, which made you want to learn more about this hidden treasure of southeast Asia. Whatever made you want to travel to Bhutan, you’re now absolutely certain that you need to explore and experience this modern-day Shangri-La for yourself.
So, what’s next? How exactly do you go about traveling to Bhutan, a small country on the opposite side of the world? Visas and passport and entry letters…what?? Fear not, we’ve prepared this handy Bhutan travel guide to help you prepare for your once-in-a-lifetime adventure.
Where is Bhutan?
Good question. Many people have never even heard of Bhutan, so no worries if you need some help finding it on a map. Bhutan is located in southeast Asia, sandwiched between southern Tibet and northeastern India at the foothills of the spectacular Himalayan Mountains. Here’s an interactive Bhutan map from the country’s official tourism council to help get you oriented. Most Bhutan tour packages first bring travelers to western Bhutan, which is the most easily accessible area from the Bhutan airport in the western town of Paro.
How to Get to Bhutan
Your next question is likely about how to travel to Bhutan. It’s actually relatively simple, since you only have two international air carriers to choose from – Drukair or Bhutan Airlines. Most travelers coming from the U.S. first fly into Bangkok, Thailand, before boarding their next plane for a scenic flight over the snowcapped Himalayan Mountains (keep an eye out for Mt. Everest!) to Paro International Airport. A select few tour operators (like The Travel Yogi) even include round-trip flights between Bangkok and Paro as part of their Bhutan tour packages. From Paro, you’ll begin a breathtaking journey through Bhutan’s mountainous landscape to discover a rich Buddhist cultural heritage and marvel at the resplendent Bhutanese architecture.
Bhutan Tour Packages
Bhutan is committed to high-value, low-impact tourism. The country currently does not allow for independent travel — all foreign tourists are required to book their Bhutan trip through a registered Bhutanese tour operator or one of their international travel partners. All Bhutan travel packages must provide the minimum daily package, which includes a licensed Bhutanese tour guide and a sustainable tourism fee, along with all accommodations, meals, internal transportation, internal taxes, and charges. Tour operators are also responsible for applying for and managing the processing of each traveler’s Bhutan visa before they arrive in the country.
All good things, when you think about it. You get a local who really knows and loves their country and is excited to share it with you and you know that your “tourist” impact is minimized while your personal impact maximized; for you and the local community. Take your time researching and travel to Bhutan with a tour company that will maximize your cultural experiences, respect the country’s authentic spirituality and contributes to the overall betterment of Bhutanese society through sustainable ecotourism practices.
Choose Your Bhutan Tour Wisely
Think carefully about what you want to experience on this incredible journey. What do you want to get out of your Bhutan tour? Are you seeking adventure, cultural immersion, exercise, relaxation, spirituality, or wellness? One option is to choose a well-rounded Bhutan tour package that combines the best of all of these travel experiences into a single voyage. Since this is most likely the only time you’ll ever tour Bhutan, be sure to choose a travel itinerary that will provide you with a truly unforgettable experience!
Your Bhutan Tour Awaits
So, there you have it. A quick primer to help get you started on preparing for your mind-blowing trip to Bhutan.
Although Bhutan is one of the world’s most exclusive travel destinations, you’ll be greeted by a warm and hospitable people who will welcome you into their unique and fascinating culture. Simply put, your Bhutan travel experience will change your life for the better.
Excited and ready to go? Book your Bhutan trip now to be among the lucky few who get to travel to to the “Land of the Thunder Dragon”!
- The Heart of Happiness Bhutan Yoga Retreat with Gioconda Parker — October 12-21, 2017