In the modern world, it’s hard to believe there’s a place that measures quality of life in terms of Gross National Happiness rather than purely on material measures. Perhaps that’s why any Bhutan tour is certain to be a soulful journey.
Until recently, the “Land of the Thunder Dragon” remained in isolation, dedicated to preserving its deep Buddhist traditions and pristine landscapes. But Bhutan has now carefully and thoughtfully opened itself up to the world. The kingdom’s Himalayan peaks, glacial rivers, serene villages, and kind people, in turn, have enchanted the world.
Three-tenths of a percent the size of the United States, Bhutan hosts fewer visitors in a year than France does every hour and a half. That could be why after your visit to Bhutan, you’ll almost whisper when you speak of it.
On your own Bhutan trip, you’ll be able to climb to one of the most famed monasteries in the world in a land of famed monasteries: Taktsang Palphug, also known as the “Tiger’s Nest,” built on the side of a cliff in 1692. Or go trekking in Bhutan’s loveliest valleys: Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, or Phobjikha. Hike to the sacred Chomolhari, Bhutan’s deeply venerated, guardian peak and source of the Paro River, which rises on the Tibet-Bhutan border. Travel through little-visited villages and forests where blue sheep, takins, and a huge variety of birdlife dwell. In the spring, witness the rhododendrons, azaleas, and masses of wildï¬‚owers that carpet the high meadows and the pear and apple trees that blossom in the valleys. In the fall, watch as rice paddies ripen to a golden brown and yak herders bring their charges down from the high summer pastures. Or content yourself by searching for black-necked cranes, or dining with Bhutan’s dignitaries.
Whatever Bhutan tour package you choose, you’ll find that from its deep-rooted Buddhist traditions to its remote location, this is a country just coming into the twenty-first century — while holding on to its ancient ways.
“In a world spinning out of ecological balance,” American environmental activist and book author Peter Matthiessen wrote, “Bhutan is as refreshing as an oasis in a desert.”
The soul rarely shouts when it is replenished. It speaks in the quiet, monastic tones of Bhutan.
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