Exploring Bhutan, The Last Shangri-La

Exploring Bhutan, The Last Shangri-La

Bhutan is known as the “Last Shangri-La,” or as Webster’s Dictionary defines it as “a distant and beautiful imaginary place where life is close to perfection.” Just read or view the photos of this South Asian country to justify the moniker. Rolling hills, lush forests and smiling people are enough to attract those looking for a utopia. Bhutan only opened its borders to tourists in 1974 and in 2019, it attracted more than 315,000 tourists. The low number of tourists is due to the country’s “high value, low volume” strategy, which aims to protect the environment and culture, and tourists are slowly increasing After all, the main attraction of the country is its nature and rich culture. To practice their unique tours, Bhutan charges tourists $250 a day, making it an expensive destination but worth it because Zen is always within reach in this stunning Asian country. For those longing for peace, Bhutan means business.

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Plan a visit

Traveling to paradise isn’t easy, but with the right travel agency and the right planning, it’s a breeze. After all, this country is worth a visit. Here are some reminders for worry-free travel:

  • Foreign tourists must have a passport valid for six months, and a visa procedure by an authorised Bhutanese travel agency. Here is the list of authorized travel agencies.
  • The currency limit for entry and exit is USD 10,000.
  • Consular services for U.S. citizens are handled by the Embassy in New Delhi, India.
  • All travelers entering Bhutan must quarantine for 14 days (for those vaccinated against COVID-19) or 21 days for unvaccinated persons upon arrival. Visitors should always check travel advice.

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Adventures in Bhutan

Paro Airport landing is an attraction in itself as it is located in a deep valley, making it one of the most challenging airports in the world. These adventures are worth it when visiting Bhutan.

Hiking, biking and boating

What better way to enjoy Shangri-La than to travel? From valleys to mountains, there is paradise in every corner of Bhutan.

  • The stunning Himalayas offer a mountain biking experience fit for a book. From paved trails to off-road trails, cyclists will enjoy breathtaking views of nature and man-made structures like the dzongs.
  • Bhutan’s Himalayan rivers are crystal clear and worth any boating or rafting trip. There is the fast Wang Chhu, the blue-green Sankosh, the Mangde Chhu that runs through the national park, the scenic Kuri Chhu and the country’s largest river, the Drangme Chhu.
  • There are at least 19 hiking trails that allow guests to enjoy breathtaking mountain views while surrounded by lush forests. From lake tours and hot spring tours to owl watching and cultural tours, there is something for everyone in Bhutan. For those who are ready for the ultimate Himalayan challenge, they can even go on a month-long trek. A recommended trail is the historic Trans Bhutan Trail, which incorporates the best of the country.

Wildlife Watching

Visitors should expect a paradise where wildlife abounds from streams to mountain peaks. With 60% of the country designated as protected areas, Bhutan is a place where wildlife lives.

  • Wildlife watchers heading to higher altitudes may be lucky enough to encounter blue sheep, takin, musk deer, marmots, red pandas and snow leopards. Meanwhile, trekking through its southern forests allows them to see water buffalo, swamp deer, golden langurs, hog deer, rhinos, and even elephants.
  • There are more than 300 kinds of medicinal plants and 46 kinds of azaleas in the country. It’s a botanist (Bhutanese?) paradise.
  • Bird watchers are in for a treat, as the country is home to more than 670 species, such as imperial herons and black-necked cranes, which are rare birds.


For tourists seeking happiness, Bhutan is a great place to go. In addition to traditional medicine, travelers can also spend a satisfying day at this Vajrayana fort’s spiritual retreat or simple meditation. From physical rest to spiritual recovery, health is a business in this country.

There are also hot springs that offer another type of therapy. It is famous among the locals during the winter and a visit will give visitors an idea of ​​why the country is known as the happiest country. Nirvana is always near Bhutan.

Tiger’s Nest

Bhutan’s most iconic monastery, the historic Paro Taktsang is a unique cliffside temple that has served the community since the late 17th century, but has been a place of meditation since the 8th century.

It is a sacred Vajrayana place, a sanctuary for an already peaceful country. This legendary place looks stunning in photos, and even more so when tourists gaze upon it in a welcoming Himalayan breeze. Many monks visit the tiger’s den, and tourists can choose to walk two to three hours to reach it – making a little sacrifice for a slice of paradise on earth.

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cultural trip

Travel is more than taking pictures, sightseeing and resting. Cultural immersion is gaining popularity among tourists, and in Bhutan it is a colourful activity. Learning a new culture while traveling is always an enriching experience.

  • Visitors to the My Gakidh Village tour will experience community-based ecotourism as they visit various villages. While staying at home, travelers can gain insight into the Bhutanese way of life while enjoying the sights of each place.
  • Archery is Bhutan’s national sport and visitors shouldn’t miss the chance to try out what the locals have to say about the activity. Archery is not only a hobby but a tradition in this humble country. Visitors interested in trying it can challenge some locals who won’t say no to certain arrow moves.
  • Museum lovers can visit the Bhutan Post Museum in the capital Thimphu. This is the perfect place to review the history and development of the country through the postal system.

language of bhutan

Languages ​​bind humans together, and tourists who want to take their travel to the next level can try learning a new language. The national language of Bhutan is Dzongka, but locals can communicate in the neighboring literary languages ​​Lepcha and Nepali in addition to Hindi.

Learning a new language is more about the traveler being immersed in the culture and traditions of the country. Also, learning new words may bring some new friends to tourists who will guide them to off-the-beaten-track watering holes etc. From “kuzuzangpo la” (hello) to “kadrinchhey” (thank you), the Bhutanese language is the way to fully experience Shangri-La.

A trip to this Himalayan country can be expensive, but it’s always worth it. After all, when it comes to beauty and happiness, Bhutan means business.

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