Sandwiched between India and Tibet, the small landlocked nation of Bhutan has for centuries preferred to keep its Himalayan curtains drawn.
Up until the 1960’s, there were no telephones, no paper currency, no roads, cars or even parking tickets. It wasn’t until 1974 that they put cultural bouncers on the door and began to let well-heeled travellers in - a few at a time and no smoking (cigarettes are banned!). In 1999 television was eventually introduced, and by 2007, Bhutan held its first general elections making the transition from absolute monarchy to constitutional monarchy. Bhutan today is known for its florid monasteries, pristine scenery and colourful folk culture. By royal decree, citizens must wear traditional dress in public during the day, which lends the nation an odd Disneyesque charm. Some say it's the happiest kingdom in the world.
If you like shopping then you’ll find excellent hand woven textiles, colourful masks, wood carvings, postage stamps, silver, silk and bronzes. Clothes, rugs or bags made from the vibrantly coloured woollen Yathra cloth are popular. Then there is handmade wooden bowls called dappa, bamboo baskets or bangchungs, Buddhist paintings and religious thangkas.
Vibrant festivals feature sacred masked dancers known as 'Chaam' and are often accompanied by traditional music. A paradise for bird lovers with over 670 species of birds. In tropical forests across Southern Bhutan you'll come across elephants, water buffaloes and leopards. Bring out the adventure in Bhutan, Trek through small Bhutanese villages or cycle along paved roads absorbing the rich natural scenery.
Bhutan famously measures economic development based on its policy of ‘Gross Domestic Happiness’, check out the many sights and sounds of this magical place to see why. Did you know that Thimphu is perhaps the last remaining capital city without traffic lights. Here white-gloved traffic cops use fluid tai-chi movements to keep road rage at bay.