Bhutan, a small landlocked country nestled in the Himalayas, is known for its stunning natural beauty, unique culture, and commitment to preserving its environment and cultural heritage. If you’re planning a trip to Bhutan for the first time, there are a few things you should know before you go. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your trip to Bhutan.
Visiting Bhutan requires a bit of planning ahead, as the government strictly controls tourism in order to preserve its culture and environment. All visitors to Bhutan must book their trip through a licensed Bhutanese tour operator, and pay a minimum daily fee that covers their accommodation, food, transport, and guide services. It’s best to book your trip well in advance, especially if you plan to visit during peak season (March-May and September-November).
Respect the culture
Bhutan is a deeply spiritual and religious country, and its people are proud of their cultural heritage. When visiting Bhutan, it’s important to respect the local customs and traditions. This means dressing modestly (avoiding shorts and revealing clothing), removing your shoes when entering temples and other sacred sites, and asking permission before taking photos of people.
Prepare for the altitude
Much of Bhutan is at high altitude, with some of the country’s most popular sites (such as the Tiger’s Nest Monastery) located above 3,000 meters. Altitude sickness can be a concern, so it’s important to take it slow and acclimatize gradually. Drinking plenty of water, avoiding alcohol and caffeine, and taking medication if needed can help.
Try the local cuisine
Bhutanese cuisine is unique and delicious, with a focus on spicy chili peppers and cheese. Some popular dishes to try include ema datshi (a spicy cheese and chili dish), momos (dumplings filled with vegetables or meat), and suja (a salty butter tea). Be prepared for some spicy food, and let your guide know if you have any dietary restrictions.
Embrace the outdoors
Bhutan is known for its stunning natural beauty, with snow-capped mountains, pristine forests, and rushing rivers. Take advantage of the outdoors by going on a hike or trek, visiting a national park, or trying your hand at fly fishing. Bhutan’s commitment to preserving its environment means that the country is relatively untouched by tourism, making it a true paradise for nature lovers.
Be prepared for limited internet access
While Bhutan is a modern country in many ways, it still has limited internet access compared to other countries. Some hotels and restaurants have Wi-Fi, but it may be slow or unreliable. This can be a good opportunity to disconnect and enjoy the peaceful surroundings, but if you need to stay connected, it’s best to bring a local SIM card or use a roaming plan.
Bhutan is a unique and fascinating country that offers a glimpse into a culture and way of life that is vastly different from the Western world. By planning ahead, respecting the local culture, and embracing the outdoors, you can have an unforgettable trip to Bhutan. Just remember to take it slow, acclimatize to the altitude, and try the local cuisine – your taste buds will thank you.