Bhutan, one of the world’s smallest countries, is also one of the most beautiful. Many don’t even know where the country is located – Bhutan is in Asia, a small Himalayan kingdom, between the Indian states of Sikkim in the west and Arunachal Pradesh in the east. The vast Tibetan plateau is in the North, with Lhasa located 280 kilometers from Bhutan’s capital city Thimphu.
Bhutan – A Unique Country
Bhutan is often called “The Last Shangrila”, as the country is unique both culturally and environmentally. There is a strong sense of tradition and culture here. It remains the only country that follows the Vajrayana Buddhism and its profound traditions and teachings, which are well preserved here.
The Bhutanese Dress
The Bhutanese people still wear their traditional dress – men wear the Gho, which is a knee-length robe that looks somewhat like a kimono with a traditional belt called the Kera. Women wear Kira, which is an ankle-length dress with an outer jacket, called the Tego, and an inner, the Wonju. Everyone wears scarves when they visit the Dzongs and administrative centers. The scarves are in different colors, and they signifying the wearer’s rank or status. The King and Head Abbott wears yellow, a Minister wears Orange, a Judge wears Green, and a common Bhutanese wears a white scarf.
People still practice the traditional way of life with almost no impact of western cultures. Television and internet arrived only a few years back. So head to Bhutan and spend a few days in this Himalayan kingdom, and it will be a journey to another time. Bhutan is very peaceful. It will be a very relaxing and awarding vacation.
The Natural Beauty of Bhutan
Perched high in the Himalayas, on its eastern edge, Bhutan is one of the last truly pristine and virgin territories. The country is known for its dzongs or fortresses, monasteries, and dramatic landscapes, which includes high altitude passes, valleys, steep mountains, and subtropical plains. There are many hiking and trekking routes.
Perhaps the country’s most famous landmark is Tiger’s Nest or the Paro Taktsang monastery, which clings to a cliff above the forested Paro Valley.
Top Places to See in Bhutan
Bhutan is a small country, but there are still many things to see and do here. This includes Punakha Dzong, the Gangtey Valley particularly in winter, Rinpung Dzong in Paro, Dochula Pass, Tiger’s Nest, the Phobjikha Valley, Chomolhari, Trongsa, Jakar, and the capital city of Thimphu.
The best time to visit Bhutan is between the months of April and September. The months of October-March will be very cold, especially in the higher altitudes. There can be snowfall frequently, and many of the higher passes can remain closed for days.
There are two ways to visit Bhutan – the international airport is in Paro, but there are few international flights here. Best is to take a flight from the eastern Indian city of Calcutta or New Delhi. You can take the road too that drives from Siliguri and enters the country at Phuentsholing. There is a second entry point at Gelephu in eastern Bhutan.
One week should be enough for the country, but you may stay in Bhutan for longer as well if you truly want to get immersed into the culture, and want a truly laid back vacation.