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Since it is locked in the Himalayas, Bhutan used to be one of the most remote places on Earth, until technology changed all that. Today, alongside numerous ancient lakhangs (prayer rooms), chortens (Buddhist stupas), and cliff-hanging goemba (monasteries), luxury hotels are popping up all over the country, which attract celebrities, royalties, and the super rich. This is why Bhutan has been called “Nepal for the Jet Set.”
Happiest place on Earth
In spite of its developments, Bhutan favors “Gross National Happiness” over Gross National Product, Buddhist compassion over Western capitalism. The country balances modernization with ancient Vajrayana Buddhist cultures and traditions under the guiding philosophy of "spiritual happiness." Hence, it is common to see robed monks using the latest cellphones, or businessmen draped in monks' robes.
Such ideology brought about general harmony across the land, making it be called "The Last Shangri-La" or “the last utopia.” In 2006, Business Week magazine tagged Bhutan as “the happiest country in Asia.” In the same year, the global survey of London's University of Leicester rated the Bhutanese as the “eighth happiest people in the world.”
The Living Eden
Locally, the Bhutanese call their nation “Druk Yul” or “Land of the Thunder Dragon” because of constant heavy rainfall. Such moody climate enabled forests to cover more than 72 percent of the country, making Bhutan be known as the “Living Eden.” Among the country's notable landscapes are parks (Jigme Singye Wangchuck, Jigme Dorji, Royal Manas), nature reserves (Toorsa Strict), and wildlife sanctuaries (Sakteng, Khaling, Bombdeling) that provide refuge to odd species like blue sheep and lavender trees.
Bhutan's different environments are the playgrounds of equally assorted activities like jungle trekking, hiking, rock climbing, bungee jumping, and whitewater rafting, among others. Art, shopping and cuisine
In the capital city, Thimphu, monks spinning prayer wheels at Changangkha Lhakhang are a common sight, along with hawkers selling traditional Bhutanese handicrafts such as dappa, banghchung and yetra or brightly colored wool made into rugs and bags. Here, visitors can also sample local dish such as ema-datsi (chili and cheese) and kewa-datsi (potatoes with cheese and chili).
Bhutan Traveler Advice
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- Bhuan Travel, Bhutan Tours
- Central Bhutan
- Eastern Bhutan
- Jigme Dorji National Park
- Medieval Bhutan Tours
- Paro Valley
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