Bhutan is the last remaining Himalayan Kingdom. Located above India, and only a stone’s throw from Nepal and Tibet, this is a place where mystery and traditions come alive. A small country where people still proudly wear the traditional dress, they believe in dragons and mythical animals and they wear a smile because they’re genuinely happy.
Bhutan claims to be the happiest nation on earth and there are many reasons why it should be high on your bucket list. The question is if you’re contemplating a visit to Bhutan, is it worth the money?
If this place is already on your radar, you’re probably aware that it comes with a price tag. A daily tariff set at USD $250 per person per day. This may seem expensive at first glance, however, it includes everything you will need during your stay. Accommodation, all meals, sightseeing and entrance fees, private vehicle transport, official guide and driver are included.
The King and the government of this country have it all worked out. The focus here is low volume, high-value tourism, and we believe they’re on to something. It’s the perfect way to keep the country from being overrun by mass tourism.
The tourism policy is designed to preserve and share the country’s stunning landscape with visitors while keeping it pristine for the locals too, a point that supports their philosophy of Gross National Happiness.
It’s nice to know that the tariff goes directly back into the welfare of the Bhutanese people and their country. $65 out of every $250 fee goes towards funding the free education and healthcare that the government provides for its people. It’s true that although 30% of the rural population live under the poverty line, however, you won’t see beggars, slums or homelessness. It seems they are doing something right.
You must book a packaged tour to visit Bhutan and there are many tour operators who can arrange your trip. We booked our tour to Bhutan with Bamba Experience because they provide experiences so you can meet the locals, immerse yourself in nature and learn about new cultures, which is exactly what we’re all about! Plus they offer the most affordable tours in Bhutan.
Your package will include all the highlights and sights in Bhutan. Our Bamba Experience guide wanted to ensure that our time in Bhutan was as enjoyable as possible and we were encouraged to add any additional sights or activities to our itinerary if we wished, within reason of course. This was a nice gesture which you will not find very common at all.
For such a small country, Bhutan has so much to offer.
Buddism is the main religion and a way of life here. For any curious traveller, it offers a comprehensive insight to learn and appreciate one of the fascinating faiths in the world. From dzongs and monasteries to temples and stupas, any culture driven traveller will enjoy the many different itineraries you can choose from, depending on the duration of your stay.
Then there is the stunning nature. The flora and fauna here are abundant, the air is crystal clean and the rivers run clear. More than 70% of Bhutan is covered in forest. This isn’t by choice, it’s by law. The law determines that 60% of Bhutan must remain forested at all times, to protect this piece of paradise.
This beautiful country is heaven for keen trekkers or hikers. Some of the treks may be demanding, but it will lead you to places barely touched. The real drawcard is that the trails are not at all over-run by multiple groups, something that is standard practice in nearby countries of Nepal and India.
The Bhutanese people are genuinely happy and very eager to please visitors to their country. They welcome you with open arms and the customer service here is exceptional. We’d argue that there are very few countries in the world that will extend such a warm welcome to you.
The word happy seems to be quickly incorporated into your vocabulary, just minutes after your arrival. It’s just a reflection of the Gross Domestic Happiness that Bhutan is well known for, which places the well-being of an individual above the economy of the country.
So is Bhutan Worth the Money?
Absolutely. There is no destination that compares.
Bhutan is country number 109 on our adventure to visit every country in the world. It easily ranks in our top five favourite destinations so far.
During our tour, we were accommodated in very comfortable, clean hotels with outstanding service. We were served wholesome and tasty Bhutanese cuisine, cooked with locally grown and fresh ingredients.
We had full services of a knowledgeable local guide and a driver with a brand new car. All the highlights and fees were included and we barely had to reach into our pocket during our time here, if only to buy a coffee or a beer during some free time.
The best thing about Bhutan was the genuine feeling of warmth, peace and care we experienced.
You can’t put a price-tag on that feeling and we’re convinced that the Bhutanese people are right. Happiness really is a place on earth, and it’s here.
It’s a place that you must experience for yourself to understand.
Have you travelled to Bhutan? Share your story with us!