Bhutan, officially Kingdom of Bhutan is an enclave country that is surrounded by two giant countries, India and China. It mostly contains highlands. The Kingdom covers many of the Himalaya range passes. Bhutan is a constitutional monarchy where the king is the head of state and executive power is vested in the cabinet, headed by the Prime Minister.
Bhutan has a population of about 700,000. The Himalayan Kingdom is a predominantly Buddhist country with a minority practicing Hinduism.
Here are some reasons why Bhutan is a truly unique country in the world.
1) Distinct world class architecture
No matter where you turn to, you’ll witness beautiful architecture in every corner of the country from traditional houses, temples to ancient fortresses. The traditional architecture is so precious that the method of building it is being codified. The multi-coloured wood, small arched windows and sloped roofs are definitely prominent features of the architectures in Bhutan. In fact, the Kingdom’s grandeur architecture has inspired other building designs around the world.
2) Happy and contented people
The first and foremost reason for the uniqueness of Bhutan is the happy people living in Bhutan. Perhaps, the concept of ‘happiness’ in the Kingdom is very much derived from the contentment that Bhutanese feel about their lives. It is also instilled through the Buddhist values of simplicity and compassion. The Bhutanese are never short of laughters as they have a great sense of humour. As you travel along the country, you will be able to experience the light-heartedness of the Bhutanese. To many travellers, Bhutan is known as the happiest place on earth, thanks to its unique development philosophy of Gross National Happiness (GNH). Instead of just measuring economic output, Bhutan’s focus on the citizen’s well-being and ‘happiness’ is extremely holistic. All the policies and development plans are required to be aligned with the GNH tenets.
3) National identity and culture
You can see Bhutanese wearing their national dress on a daily basis. Men wear the gho while women wear kira. Whether they are going to the market, attending to formal occasions or performing religious activities. While wearing of the national costume is only compulsory when one attends a formal event, visits government offices or enters the dzong (ancient fortress), you can still find many Bhutanese wearing the kira or gho with much pride outside of formal occasion. The sight of these local Bhutanese men and women in their vibrant costumes is definitely a unique feature of the country in times of globalization.
4) Only carbon negative country in the world
Bhutan is holding a significant title of being the only country that is carbon negative. The constitution mandates that at least 60% of the country has to be under forest cover. Right now, about 70% of the country is covered by forests. The Kingdom is undoubtedly one of the greenest countries in the world. It absorbs more greenhouse gases than it emits. They are clearly a role model to the world in terms of environmental preservation.
5) No traffic lights
There are no traffic lights in Bhutan. Thimphu (the capital city of Bhutan) is the only capital city in the world without a traffic light. The only ‘traffic light’ you’ll witness are traffic police directing the flow of movement at the heart of the town. So, you never have to worry about getting stuck in a traffic jam in Bhutan.
6) Home to Himalayan range
Many of the world’s most beautiful mountains can be found in Bhutan. It is definitely a popular trekking destination for all the avid hikers and trekkers. Some of the popular treks include Jomolhari trek, Dagala Thousand Lakes trek, Drukpath trek and Laya-Gasa trek. Aside from that, one of the world’s most challenging trekking routes, Snowmen Trek is also a popular choice for the adventurous. Bhutan is also in the midst of developing the longest trail from the west to the east of the country. Known as Trans Bhutan Trail, the Kingdom is preparing to bring back an ancestral trail to connect the communities from the western region to the eastern region.
7) Safe country with low crimes
The crime rates in Bhutan are relatively low compared to many other countries in the world. Little crimes are reported in the country. Violent cases are not rampant and as all the tours are guided tours, you can travel to the country with a piece of mind. Most Bhutanese are extremely friendly and helpful. You can only experience the Bhutanese hospitality by visiting it in person.
8) Young democracy
Bhutan has one of the youngest democracies in the world. It was only in 2008 that the country transitioned from an absolute monarchy to parliamentary monarchy. The fourth king, Jigme Singye Wangchuck understands the need for the country to become democratic in order to meet the demands of globalization. The fifth king, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck oversaw the peaceful transition of the country into a parliamentary monarchy. Together with Queen Jetsun Pema, King Jigme has travelled internationally to raise the profile of Bhutan in the international community.
9) Government policy for tourists
Bhutan implements a strict tourism policy to preserve its national identity. The ‘High Value, Low Volume’ tourism policy serves to prevent mass tourism that may impact the country in the different aspects. As a result of the policy, tourists are required to book their trips to Bhutan through a licensed tour agency and pay a fixed daily tariff. These private tours also allow for tourists to better appreciate, understand and admire the pristine natural environment of Bhutan.
10) Tiger’s Nest, sacred Buddhist site
One of the most iconic landmarks of Bhutan is the Taktsang Monastery, popularly known as Tiger’s Nest. Tucked away on a cliffside in Paro valley, the Tiger’s Nest is a must visit place for tourists. The hike up to the temple takes approximately 2 hours depending on one’s fitness level. Enroute to the Tiger’s Nest, one will be greeted with breathtaking views and fluttering prayer flags. You’ll be truly mesmerised by the landscapes and feel a sense of accomplishment upon reaching the sacred site. Along the way, you’ll see many locals going up and down as they complete their pilgrimage journey.
11) Last country to introduce television and internet
Bhutan is one of the last few countries to introduce television and the internet. The very first time Bhutanese can enjoy television and the internet was in 1999. The same year where more than 150 million people around the world are using the internet and the introduction of bluetooth technology. Currently, more than 87% of Bhutanese has a cell phone. The leaders recognise the importance of technology and strive to promote the usage and adoption of technology to keep up with the global trend.
12) Distinctive Bhutanese cuisine and local flavours
Bhutanese loves everything that is spicy! Chilli peppers are a common ingredient in most of the dishes. The famous and well loved national dish is ema datshi, also known as chilli cheese stew. You can find out how to cook this simple and yummy dish here. One of the local favourite drinks is butter tea. Unlike tea that you find in other countries, Bhutanese makes delicious butter tea known as suja. It is usually drunk on all social occasions alongside snacks such as roasted rice (zaw).
13) One of the most dangerous airports in the world
Flying into the Kingdom of Bhutan might get your heart thumping. Because the country’s international airport, Paro Airport is often known as one of the most dangerous airports to land in. Only qualified pilots are able to land in the airport and navigate the tough terrains. The narrow runway and mountainous surrounding makes flying into the Kingdom only possible during the daylight. Despite the airport being one of the most challenging places to land, it’s also bound to be one of the most memorable flights for most tourists due to its captivating scenery as the flight is approaching. Get yourself a window seat if you want to get a glimpse of the breathtaking Himalayan range!
Travelling to Bhutan is easy! There are direct Drukair flights from Singapore, Bangkok, India, Nepal and Bangladesh.
Are You Ready to Discover the Uniqueness of Bhutan?
If you are planning for a perfect trip in Bhutan, you should consider taking a 7 Day Essential Bhutan Travel Plan, a 5 Day Uma Paro Himalayan Adventure or spend 10 day to discover Bhutan. You may also check the best time to visit Bhutan. Don’t forget to also check out our tips when you’re planning a trip to Bhutan.
Also, remember to read the dos and don’ts when travelling in Bhutan. Don’t forget to sign-up to our regular newsletter at drukasia.com. If you have any enquiries, drop us an email at [email protected].