Where is Bhutan? Everything Curious Travelers Need to Know

Suspension Bridge via Dropbox.

It doesn’t get further off the beaten path than this. 

A nation with a population of less than one million people and a carbon-positive economy, where Gross National Happiness is a real government principle. 

A spiritual enclave of Buddhist tradition dotted with breathtaking monasteries… the most famous of which clings to the side of a mountain cliff!

Subtropical plains that give way to soaring peaks, including the world’s highest unclimbed summit.

We didn’t make any of that up, we promise! What we just described is Bhutan – a mysterious (but very real!) nation that deserves a spot on every adventurous traveler’s list.

Where is Bhutan?

“Um, where in the world even is Bhutan?”

First thing’s first: if you don’t know a thing about Bhutan, don’t sweat it! You’re not the first foreigner to be (pleasantly!) surprised to learn about this one-of-a-kind country.

Bhutan is a small nation nestled between China and India, and not far east of Nepal. Its dominant feature? A big chunk of the Himalaya Mountains.

Bhutan on a map

This geography kept Bhutan pretty isolated for a lot of its history… and its government, with its values of environmental and cultural conservation, did the rest. 

Bhutan was closed to tourists until 1974. Today, Bhutan welcomes visitors mindfully: there’s a daily fee to stay in the country, and visas are limited each year to create a “high value, low impact” tourist economy. 

In other words, Bhutan is a stunning, mountainous country that intentionally avoids the limelight. That makes visiting a rare (but attainable!) privilege.

How to get to Bhutan

Paro Airport

It’s possible to get to Bhutan by air, but flights are limited!

When you visit Bhutan, you’ll connect through a large Asian hub (we direct our adventurers to Bangkok, Thailand, and take care of booking the last leg of the trip to Bhutan!) 

Then, you’ll enjoy what might just be the most breathtaking airplane ride of your life as you soar over mountain peaks and descend into the Himalayan valley where Paro International Airport awaits.

Paro, home to Bhutan’s only international airport, is the perfect place to begin your Bhutanese adventure. You’ll touch down at an elevation of 7,200 feet – in a small but awe-inspiring city dotted with ornate buildings, flanked by steep slopes, and full of swinging suspension bridges and innumerable sacred Buddhist sites.

How to pronounce “Bhutan”

Before we go further, just in case you were afraid to ask…

“Bhutan” is pronounced “boo-TAHN,” with the stress on the second syllable!

Not “BYOO-tan” or even “boot-AH-nee”… and definitely not “button.”

…But if you’ve made one of those slip-ups in the past, don’t sweat it. You wouldn’t be not the first!

Why visit Bhutan?

Most of us are used to vacationing in globalized destinations with larger tourist economies. To make the most of your visit to Bhutan, set those travel expectations aside and arrive with an open mind!

Bhutan’s well-preserved traditional culture and pristine mountain landscape mean you’ll be treated to an authentic adventure unlike any other. 

Here’s exactly what you can expect from a visit to Bhutan (and why we absolutely recommend you go).

1) Friendly people

Guide in Bhutan via Dropbox.

The first thing visitors usually notice about Bhutanese people? Their generous, infectious smiles.

Community, environment, and spirituality aren’t just surface-level values in Bhutanese culture – they’re shared priorities that seep into the smallest aspects of everyday life. 

And while we won’t claim to be experts on the mysterious concept of happiness, we’re pretty sure you’ll leave Bhutan with a sunny outlook and a shifted perspective on what really matters.

2) Top-notch hospitality

Bhutan Accommodation via Dropbox.

Bhutan describes its tourist experience as “high value, low-impact.” 

The Bhutanese way is to limit the number of visitors within its borders to just a few hundred at a time… but to make sure those visitors get only the best accommodations and service. 

We partner with boutique hotels in Thimpu, Punakha, and Paro, where you can expect beautiful architecture, modern amenities (yep, that includes wifi!), and luxe experiences including a traditional hot-stone bath.

3) Rich culture

Bhutan’s well-preserved culture will leave a mark on your senses, from spicy food and rich butter tea to vibrant textiles. 

Guided by locals, you’ll play soccer with young monks, roll up your sleeves for an in-home cooking lesson, watch master craftspeople weave and dye fabric, and maybe even explore Thimpu’s electronic dance scene (when you follow our itinerary, that is!)

4) Stunning nature

A backdrop of the Himalayas – the world’s loftiest mountain range – means even the most accessible afternoon strolls are likely to imprint themselves in your memory for a lifetime. 

Scenic drives, high-altitude picnics, and beginner-friendly river rafting are just a few ways you’ll experience the sacred nature that keeps Bhutanese people so grounded and eco-conscious. 

And when you visit Bhutan, many of your mountain-path treks will lead to more than just a scenic vista, which brings us to our next point!

5) Living history

Tiger's Nest via Dropbox.

Bhutan is dotted by monasteries, temples, and fortresses. Many of these date back to the early centuries of Buddhism, but are still actively used today!

Hiking to these pieces of living history makes the payoff even more rewarding. One can’t-be-missed example is the Tiger’s Nest, Paro Taktsang, an iconic monastery that hangs from a cliffside and can only be accessed on foot. 

On the Bhutan Yoga Adventure, you’ll also explore Punakha Dzong – a sacred palace that doubles as the administrative center of Punakha District – and join a butter lamp ceremony at Dodeydra Monastery.

6) Self-discovery 

When you immerse yourself in so much nature, history, and spirituality, it’s hard not to reconnect with your true self… and with something greater. 

This is what makes Bhutan an ideal place to deepen your yoga practice – which is just what our Yoga Adventure will help you do! 

Our Bhutan itinerary is intentionally filled with activities that invite spiritual, cultural, and natural expansion. You’ll integrate daily (in the morning, evening, or both!) with a private yoga class.

Must-Know Bhutan Travel Tips

Here are some more essential travel tips for Bhutan:

  • Long pants (but not jeans!) and long sleeves are required to visit Bhutan’s sacred sites. Hats are not allowed. No need to dress crazy-formal, but follow common sense and be respectful.
  • You’ll need a US passport valid for at least 6 months beyond your arrival date to Bhutan, plus a tourist visa approved in advance. Your tour operator (that’s us!) will take care of your visa, but you can stay up-to-date on the requirements through the US State Department website.
  • If you’re prone to car sickness, make sure to pack a medication that works for you to make sure you enjoy (and don’t dread!) rides on Bhutan’s winding mountain roads.
  • Travel insurance is required to visit Bhutan, but you won’t need any special vaccinations.
  • Come hungry, and prime your palate for spice! Bhutanese food is aromatic, hot, and filling. Think Indian and Chinese influences; plus lots of root vegetables, chilies, tomatoes, high-elevation grains like red rice; and some beef, pork, and chicken.

You’ll get an itinerary that’s perfectly balanced: neither overbooked nor boring, with the perfect blend of nature, spirituality, culture, cuisines, good old-fashioned fun, and of course, yoga. 

All you have to do is read it over, get excited, and pack your bag.

Sacred bliss and mountain trails await…

You’ve gone from wondering “where is Bhutan?” to a whirlwind tour of the essential… By now, you’re probably feeling the call of the mysterious Land of the Thunder Dragon? (Did we mention that’s Bhutan’s official nickname?)

You truly can’t experience Bhutan’s level of cultural and spiritual immersion anywhere else on Earth. 

But with the help of the trademark Bhutanese friendliness and an intentionally planned itinerary, you’ll realize you’ve come home to yourself in a world apart. 

See the Bhutan Yoga Adventure Details