Bhutan, a country in South Asia, is a fascinating destination for any traveler.
Bhutan’s culture and traditions have been well preserved despite being opened up to tourism only recently and offer something absolutely unique: it is a place where time seems to stand still with its medieval Buddhist culture intact.
Not many would consider visiting it above other destinations like Indonesia, Thailand, Japan, or maybe Korea. Those are indeed beautiful places to travel to, but sometimes, getting creative about where to go next can pay off a lot.
What do we mean by this? That places like Bhutan can be a welcoming surprise in finding what many others haven’t: fascination and astonishment in their maximum expressions.
Therefore, if you’re up for the challenge and trip, we are here to help you decide and prepare for the adventure since tourism in this country will be the next level.
A Rich History: All About Bhutan
Before you even consider visiting a place, make sure that you do some research.
Many travelers and adventurers ignore this step and only focus on places they can visit and the tourist activities available in the area.
However, when it comes to learning the culture, how safe the place is, and if the residents are welcoming, not many take the time, only those that know they are critical for the trip.
Here, we want to make sure you are not going blindfolded, which is why we want you to bear with us for a bit and learn together.
Bhutan’s history is pervasive, and as much as we want, we have to tell you in advance that we won’t be able to cover all of it, but we will focus on the essentials and crucial parts.
For centuries, Bhutan has been a mystery to the outside world since there aren’t records about the country before its historical period started.
Now, you would consider this period to be history, but what we’re concerned or interested in knowing is when Bhutan was even discovered, how the civilization was in the past, and its history from back then.
Since there aren’t answers, people have to focus on the period that begins at about 757 A.D. despite some evidence from structures proving that it was settled even 2000 B.C.
Our focus will be based on Tibetan Buddhism in the 9th century and then moving to the 12th century when Drukpa Kagyupa school was established.
Since then, it remains dominant when it comes to Buddhism in the country.
But going back to the Tibetan Buddhism period, there are mentions that several people influenced the entire religion in Bhutan over the years.
Not only during the Tibetan period but also throughout the country’s history.
We don’t want to take too much time during these years because the critical part is: Bhutan remains to be a country that follows Buddhism, and you ought to remember this.
From here, we will be moving to its consolidation in 1616 when Ngawang Namgyal, who was a lama from western Tibet, defeated three Tibetan invasions (which are continuous and frequent during the entire history back to 745 A.C.).
This lama subjugated all rival religious schools trying to impose their authority in the country, codified the Tsa Ying (constitution with code of moral discipline), created a law system, and was the rule until his death.
From here until 1972, Bhutan was led by individuals who grew appellant with emerging from the country’s isolation that has been going for centuries.
As a result, in 1972, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, a 16-year-old teenager, ascended to the throne and focused on modern education, decentralization of governance, and invested efforts and resources in tourism and hydroelectricity.
From here, we have the Bhutan you can visit today: a beautiful and more modern place that, with efforts since the 20th century, is one of the best nations to visit nowadays.
Is It Really Worth Traveling to Bhutan?
If you’re worried about wasting your time and maybe regretting going there, we can tell you this: if you like Asia overall and places like Indonesia, this won’t happen.
We have mentioned it before (and will continue to do), but Bhutan is BEAUTIFUL, and we have to write it down in capitals to make sure it is clear.
However, we understand that the matter isn’t only about sightseeing and having beautiful places and knowing if you can enjoy some activities.
So, here’s what we know and have experienced:
- Hiking the trail to reach the Tiger’s Nest Monastery (or Taktsang Palphug Monastery) in Paro Valley will be unforgettable. For us, this was the first reason to travel to the country and all thanks to our Instagram feed.
- Kuenselphodrang Nature Park offers stunning green areas and the statue of Buddha Dordenma at the top of a mount.
- Chele La in Paro offers high-altitude mountain passes and great sightseeing.
- Punakha Dzong (the palace of great happiness) is a palace that resembles its name, and once you visit it, you will understand why.
- The National Museum in Paro is the best way to understand the country’s culture and learn about stories you can share with friends, family members, or keep for yourself.
This will sound a bit too much, but the truth is that we can mention over 50 different places you can visit in this country located right between China and India.
Structures are something that appears anywhere you go, and natural views and areas are what dominates most of the space in the country.
We love it not only because it shows what the Asian culture is in quite a great expression but also because of its mystery.
You have so many places, structures, items, and yet, you’re unable to unveil some of the secrets behind when it all started.
But one thing is for sure, it was and continues to be a nation that maintains its independence and, in its history, it was never conquered or occupied by an outside power.
Is Bhutan The Right Place for You?
If you don’t like nature, adventure, and traditional places, you better stick to modern countries and places to visit.
Bhutan is not for everyone, and we know it.
Some people might like what it has to offer but are not willing to go over the hardships of visiting the place.
But is it really hard or uncomfortable to visit?
Many believe it is the adventures you will go through that usually involve hiking and a lot of physical activity overall.
However, the country has many commodities to offer despite opening not too long about tourism, and you will find many packages and alternatives to make your stay comfortable.
With this in mind, keep that this destination will be perfect if you are excited about nature and the places you can visit (do yourself a favor and look for more pictures *wink*).
But we already mentioned that if you’re not into those activities, refrain from doing so.
Bhutan is a great place, in our opinion and if you’re still willing to visit it even when it may not be the best option for you, just focus on finding activities you know you could enjoy (or get to experience new ones).
How Popular Is the Country?
Very popular to the point of finding a few films or movies that had it as the primary or secondary location.
Not many, but you can notice some films focused on the region as well as movies having their beautiful locations as part of the cinematography.
“Crossing Bhutan” is a great film that runs an hour that you will LOVE even if you don’t visit the country.
It follows four veteran athletes that explore the Himalayan Kingdom’s unique policy of Gross National Happiness.
This is a fact we didn’t mention. Bhutan is known for being a nation of happiness that makes you feel alive while breathing its air and just being there.
But even more when you take the time to visit its beautiful places.
This is why another movie named “Happiness” can be found and have it as its primary location.
Breathtaking Facts About Bhutan, South Asia
- “Bhutan” translates to “Land of the Thunder Dragon.” This nickname that most people in the country use was earned because of the fierce storms from the Himalayas.
- People in Bhutan are obligated by law to protect the environment, being the first and only country in the world to establish constitutional obligations.
- They had only been introduced to the Internet and T.V. 11 years ago.
- Citizens or residents are called Bhutanese.
- Tobacco is banned and cannot be sold.
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