Bhutan - "Land of the Thunder Dragon"

Bhutan

Though the original name from the time of Marco Polo was ‘Bootan,’ the natives call their country 'Druk Yul' which means the Land of Thunder Dragon and its inhabitants are called 'Drukpa'. Bhutan is known to the world by several names such as the ‘the Last Shangri-La’ or ‘the Last Place on the Roof of the World’. It is also called “Window in the Sky”. The landlocked country is located between Tibet in the north, Indian states of West Bengal and Assam in the south, and Arunachal Pradesh in the east. Thimpu is the capital city of this small and remote kingdom. The national language is Dzongkha, with Buddhism being the dominant religion, and some percentage of the population being Hindu.

The Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan is about 25,000 feet above sea level, its mountains hiding it from the rest of the world, shrouded in legend and myth—its supernatural beings, ancient monasteries and fortresses amidst a breathless sight. Nestled in the lap of the Himalayas, Bhutan offers spectacular mountain views, immense scenic beauty and a unique culture. Beautiful Buddhist monasteries, carved wooden houses and the fine crafts of Bhutan are some of the major attraction for the tourist in Bhutan. A land with a tolerant people, vibrant and orthodox culture, Bhutan is often referred to as the ‘living museum’ of the world.

Bhutan Travel Information and Destination Guide

Bhutan is blessed with lush forests and stunning mountains sheltering a rich variety of flora and fauna. It has peaceful and calm environment that reflects the simple lives of the Bhutanese people. Tourism in Bhutan began on a limited basis since 1970. The world then became aware of the enchanting land of Bhutan with its rare and striking scenic beauty. Tour to Bhutan includes visits to old forts, palaces, monasteries, farm houses and the National museum. 

While the Bhutanese are free to travel abroad, Bhutan is seen to be inaccessible to the foreigners. The widespread misperception that Bhutan has set limits on tourist visas, the high tourist tariff and the requirement to go on packaged tours seem to create this impression. The minimum daily tariff is set by the Department of Tourism of Bhutan and can not be negotiated. These rates can be higher, depending on the nature of services desired beyond the set entitlement. The rate is the same for both cultural tours and treks. Photography in some of the Monasteries & Dzongs is not allowed. 

There are only two entry points to enter Bhutan. Mostly many travellers arrive by air at Paro, some arrive by road at Phuntsholing, which lies on the southern border with India. In either case, tourists have to fly in as well as fly out by the national carrier, Druk Air which has no interline agreements with other carriers. Therefore tourists need to arrange their own ticket to and from wherever they connect with Druk Air, as that is the only airline that flies into Bhutan. The flight from Kathmandu to Paro provides the most spectacular view of Himalayan vistas of any scheduled flight. Paro airport is less than two hours from Thimphu. The best way to journey by road is to start at Kathmandu. 

Everybody except Indian citizens must apply for a visa at least 30 days in advance. Passport details is required to apply visa, a copy of passport is not really necessary. Though the visa itself costs a reasonable US$20 for 14 days but it will not be issued until you have paid bookings for a package tour to Bhutan. Although the tours are organized by private companies, the cost is not negotiable as it is set by the government. Druk Air does not issue tickets until they have received the visa clearance so all the travel arrangements must be made in advance. Guides are required for all tourist visa holders. 

The climate of Bhutan is variable from region to region. While it is tropical in the southern plains, in the central valleys one experiences cool winters and hot summers. On the other hand, in the Himalayas severe winters and cool summers are prevalent.

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