- Best time to go: We went in October so that we could attend the Jambay Lhakhang Drub Festival in Bumthang where the people dress up in ornate costumes and wear masks and perform dances, chants, and fire walks. The weather was great – not too hot and not too cold with lots of sunshine.
- Tourists are not allowed to travel independently around the country. In order to visit, you must arrange through a travel agency to have a government appointed guide to show you around. They also arrange all itineraries, meals, transportation, and accommodation within the country. There is a fixed $250 per day per person fee that includes these expenses, and a portion of the tourist fee also goes towards building up their infrastructure – roads, schools, etc.
Bhutan: the Land of the Thunder Dragon, aka The Land of Happiness, aka The Last Shangri-La, aka The Land of No Traffic Lights. It truly is a beautiful country. The natural landscapes are incredibly beautiful and pristine, the culture is colorful, and the people are very friendly and tradition-bound. It felt like I traveled to a mystical, exotic, harmonious world full of peace, joy, and wonder.
You won’t find many tourists in Bhutan, because of the expensive tourist fee, the difficulty of obtaining a visa, and not being able to make arrangements on your own without a travel agency. Tourism was only opened 30 years ago and before that was sequestered from the outside world for centuries. It is now carefully regulated. It’s refreshing, though, to experience a culture whose economy is not entirely dependent on tourism and instead is measured by Gross National Happiness. Within the culture lies a deeply ingrained sense of hospitality, tradition, religion, and welfare of others. You truly get to share an experience with the Bhutanese, instead of them being displayed on parade for the masses. We got to explore, learn, and celebrate by taking part in their festivals, farming, meals, and even games of archery. And I loved every minute.
Festivals in October: Jambay Lhakhang (with famous fire walking ceremony) and Prakhar Duchhoed