35 Tips To Know BEFORE You Travel to Bhutan

Nestled between India and Tibet, the small Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan has remained largely unnoticed by mainstream tourism for many years.

Instead of embracing a tourism industry that might erode local culture to cater to foreign preferences, Bhutan has carefully designed its approach to tourism development, aiming to engage visitors in the rich tapestry of the country’s culture and traditions through a profound cultural exchange.

Because of this, Bhutan was high on our dream destination list. I knew I had to get there before I died. With the world open up we figured there was no time like the present and booked our flights to Paro! We didn’t know what to expect before we visited, but after 10 days of traveling the country, we’ve walked away with a few Bhutan travel tips to help you plan your own trip!

Tips To Know Before You Travel to Bhutan

What is the Sustainable Development Fee?

What is the Sustainable Development Fee?
Overlooking the Trongsa Dzong

If you’ve done any research about traveling to Bhutan, you have likely come across the “Sustainable Development Fee,” but what is that? Bhutan is a unique country to visit, with very special rules. To preserve their culture and protect against mass tourism, they control their tourism and charge a daily fee to visit. The government has opted for a “high value, low impact” tourism model, which has helped protect nature and keep Bhutan unique and preserved in the modern world. The government wants to restrict it’s tourism numbers, so that it never overwhelms the population of just 800,000.

This daily fee has changed prices multiple times throughout the years, but it is currently $100 per day per visitor (down from a whopping US$200 per person per night). This fee does not include travel expenses like food, accommodation, and tour guides. It is solely a fee for visitors that goes back to support the people of Bhutan. The SDF fee on top of flights, guides, drivers, hotels, meals, etc can make Bhutan a very expensive place to visit. All tourists must pay this fee, but there are special exemptions for citizens of Bangladesh, India, and the Maldives.

Natasha at Trongsa Dzong

Where does all that money go? The Special Development Fund (SDF) allocates its funds to diverse projects with initiatives that span free healthcare, education, and training for Bhutanese and enhance the tourism and hospitality industry through upskilling. The funds contribute to improved infrastructure, environmental preservation and conservation, cultural heritage programs, and endeavors supporting local businesses and economies in the country.

Bhutan Travel Visa

Natasha Alden and Cameron Seagle in Bumthang, Bhutan
Cameron and I at the Bumthang Dzongkhag

The costs to travel to Bhutan do not end there as all visitors, except those from India, Bangladesh, and The Maldives, require a visa before entering Bhutan. Visas must be granted before arrival and typically take a week to process; however, ours only took a few days!

You can apply online for a visa by completing this application form, or if you’re traveling with a tour operator, they may apply for the visa on your behalf. We booked our trip with Happiness Kingdom Travels, which handled this process. The visa currently costs $40 per person.

Book Your Bhutan Trip Through A Tour Company

Bhutan trip through Happiness Kingdom Travels
Dago and I in Bumthang

This is one of my top Bhutan travel tips! It used to be a requirement to book your trip to Bhutan through a tour company, but Bhutan is progressing a bit with its tourism industry, and this is no longer the case. These rules changed after the pandemic in September 2022, and visitors now have the flexibility to book all elements of their journey independently.

That said, Bhutan is relatively new to self-guided tourism, and you may struggle to book all your travel independently. We booked our trip with Happiness Kingdom Travels and were happy that we didn’t have to think about the day-to-day of our trip. We didn’t lift a finger when planning – from our guide and driver to all meals, activities, and hotels. We usually travel independently, but in a country like Bhutan, I was happy to have a tour operator handle the trip’s logistics!

Get a Guide for Bhutan!

Guide in Bhutan
Dago and Me!

While you may not need to book your trip through a tour operator, you will still likely need a guide, depending on where travel in Bhutan. If you only plan to visit Thimphu and Paro, a guide is not mandatory, but for travel beyond that, all visitors must have a guide.

A guide is also compulsory to visit all dzongs and temples, including the famous Tigers Nest Monastery. So essentially – you need a guide to travel Bhutan, and quite honestly, I think most visitors would be a little lost and confused/out of their element without a guide!

Bhutan tour guides in Gangtey
All the guides seem to know each other!

This is not a bad thing, though! First of all – job creation! Second, the guides in Bhutan are amazing and incredibly knowledgeable about the history of Bhutan, the culture, and all the temples and sights you will see. They undergo rigorous training to become Bhutanese guides; we couldn’t imagine traveling around Bhutan without one.

Dago, our guide, was integral to our time in Bhutan and honestly was one of the best parts about our trip. He was our guide, but is now our friend. He answered all the absolutely random questions I threw at him and helped us effortlessly travel around the country.

Booking Your Flight to Bhutan

monks in bumthang bhutan
Watching monks practice for their festival

Now that we’re past most of the logistics, let’s talk about getting to Bhutan. Unless you travel overland from India, you will be flying into Bhutan. Paro International Airport is the only international airport in the country, and all flights in and out are operated by either Druk Air or Bhutan Airlines. Bhutan is unique in that you can only access Paro from a few destinations worldwide, including Bangkok, Delhi, Kolkata, Kathmandu, Singapore, Bagdogra, Bodhgaya, Dhaka, and Guwahati.

This is something to think about when planning your trip. You won’t be able to fly directly to Bhutan but will have to fly to the cities mentioned beforehand, which can add to your costs and total time of trip. Getting to Bhutan is not the easiest travel destination (don’t ask us how long it took from Canada!).

We knew we would have to fly from Delhi, Kathmandu, or Bangkok and eventually decided on Delhi since we had never traveled to India before. This let us explore more of India after our trip to Bhutan.

Your tour operator can book your flights, or you can book them yourself on the Druk Air or Bhutan Airlines website.

Enjoy the Flight Into Bhutan

seeing everest from the plane between kathmandu and paro
Seeing Mount Everest from the plane to Paro!

Speaking of flights to Bhutan, you may want to stay awake for yours as it’s one of the most exciting flights I’ve ever taken. If you’re flying from Kathmandu or Delhi to Bhutan, sit on the plane’s left side. Why? Well, you’ll pass right over Mount Everest and get astonishing views. We were incredibly lucky as we had a crisp and clear day when we flew into Bhutan – just look at that photo we took!

Not many flights fly over the Himalayas, and the flights from Kathmandu to Paro or Delhi to Paro are some of the only commercial flights in the world where you get Mount Everest views!

The fun doesn’t stop once you’re past Mount Everest. Buckle up because the landing in Paro is an interesting one. How interesting? Only 24 pilots can land and take off in Paro, one of the world’s toughest airport runways. Pilots must undergo rigorous training to fly in and out here, weave their way through the mountains, and land on 6,562 feet runway. While the pilots navigate the narrow Paro Valley, passengers enjoy the views of the towering peaks of the Himalayas, lush greenery, and serene landscapes. Buckle up!

A Standard Bhutan Tour

Memorial Chorten, Thimphu
National Memorial Chhorten

A standard Bhutan tour typically takes seven days and six nights and takes visitors to Paro, Thimphu, and Punakha. It almost always includes a visit to the famous Tigers Nest Monastery. This tour will give you a good glimpse of Bhutan, allowing you to get to plenty of dzongs, stupas, and temples and experience the culture. However, there are longer tours available.

Extend Your Bhutan Tour

bike riding in bhutan
Riding bikes in Gangtey

We spent ten days in Bhutan, and I felt it was the perfect time in the country. We went to the highlights, including Paro, Thimphu, and Punnaka, but we also had extra days to go to the Gangtey and Bumhtang Valleys, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Gangtey was a highlight of our trip, as many other tourists don’t venture that way (since it’s not on the standard tour).

If you have the time and budget, I would not hesitate to book longer in Bhutan; you won’t regret your extra time in this stunning country.

You Might Get Templed Out

trongsa dzong

Speaking of temples, fortresses, and dzongs…well, there are many of them in Bhutan. They are all impressive and have their own story, but it is very easy to get templed out after visiting three in one day. If you think this might be you, inform your tour operator so they can adjust your Bhutan itinerary.

We informed our guide, Dago, that we would like to spend more time outdoors on hikes, and he made it his mission to get us out on more walks and hikes than on the standard tour.

Expect to Drive Some Long Distances on Winding Roads

The roads in bhutan
The roads in Bhutan

I don’t think there is one straight road in the entire country of Bhutan. The only straight stretch of pavement I ever encountered was the Paro International Airport’s short runway – no joke! If you’re on a 10-day tour, you’ll likely travel around the country a lot. While there are a few domestic airports, you’ll likely be traveling by road, and the roads are super winding.

Your destination might only be 40 km away, but it could take hours to reach with the high mountain passes and road network. Thankfully, all visitors have a driver who will bear all the driving work (so tip him well), but you should still come prepared for some long days in the car. I suffer from motion sickness on long car rides and had to ride with the windows down nearly the entire trip.

You Might Get Motion Sick!

cameron in bhutan

If you think you suffer from motion sickness like me, prepare accordingly. This could mean motion sickness tablets or anti-motion sickness eyeglasses!

car in bhutan
The car used for our trip

However, if you get motion sick while in the car, you may want to go one step further and book a private trip. We booked a private Bhutan trip (not because of my motion sickness, but it’s just how it worked out).

That meant it was just Cameron and I in the car with Dago and Mumlau, our driver. We had a small SUV that was perfect for us. But back to the motion sickness! Because it was just the two of us, I could keep the window down the whole time; as fresh air is necessary for me when driving winding roads. It also meant that I wasn’t stuck in the back of a bus feeling all the twists and turns of the road, and I could ask our driver to pull over and get out for a breather whenever needed!

Can You Rent a Car in Bhutan?

biking in the gangtey valley
Riding around Gangtey

If you’ve read all these Bhutan travel tips so far you may realize the easiest way to get around Bhutan is with a car. It’s not possible to rent your own car in Bhutan. Alternatively, you can secure the assistance of a local driver or transportation service provider, in addition to making arrangements through hotels and tour operators through your hotel or tour operator.

Get a SIM Card

nunnery in Punakha
Visiting a Nunnery

We found that, in general, the WiFi does not work well in Bhutan, and while you can rely on hotel WiFi, it’s not the strongest, and we often had issues. We highly recommend getting a Bhutanese sim card, which you can do when you land at the Paro Airport.

Bring Cash/Accessing Cash in Bhutan

waterfalls in bhutan

We read multiple times to bring cash into Bhutan and are so happy we did. While some places accept credit cards, we found it to be hit or miss in Bhutan, and we were thankful we always had cash on hand. Occasionally, even when credit card machines were advertised, that didn’t mean they worked. We also found that ATMs didn’t always work, and they put 10,000 Bhutanese Ngultrum (the local currently) limits on our withdrawals (about $120).

We entered the country with around $500, intending most of it would go to tipping our guides and a few souvenirs as all of our travel expenses were already paid before the trip to Bhutan. USD and Euro are accepted everywhere (but USD is better). However, we still wanted local currency, so we went to the bank in Thimphu to withdraw some of this cash.

If you want to avoid ATMs and exchange your currency, you can change your local currency for Ngultrum upon arrival at Paro International Airport or at banks, larger hotels and authorized currency exchange businesses in Thimphu.

Travelers can also try and install the goBoB digital wallet app introduced by the Bank of Bhutan. It can be utilized with a local SIM card and enjoys widespread acceptance nationwide.

Indian Rupees Work the Same

If you don’t have USD or a major currency on hand, it’s important to note that Indian Rupees are accepted everywhere at a 1:1 rate with the Bhutanese Ngultrum. So if you travel from India, you can always bring over Rupees and get by in Bhutan just fine.

Will You Get Altitude Sickness in Bhutan?

altitude sickness in bhutan
At a high mountain pass in Bhutan

Bhutan is a landlocked country nestled against the Himalayan mountain range, resulting in a predominantly elevated terrain. Particularly, the northern region is characterized by rugged mountains and high altitudes. Bhutan is often called “The Kingdom in the Clouds” since most of the country is 8,000 feet above sea level.

Tigers Nest sits at 10,236ft, and if you are trekking through the high Himalayas, chances are you will be above 11,000 ft often. The highest point in Bhutan is Gangkhar Puensum, which sits at a whopping 7,570 m (24,836 ft) above sea level!

altitude sickness in bhutan

I was often asked about altitude sickness by readers on this trip, which we never suffered from. Though we already live 1500 meters above sea level, and we weren’t trekking in the high Himalayas. Most tourists will stick to the lower valleys like we did. So, will you get altitude sickness? I would say most likely not unless you are doing a lot of trekking, or have breathing issues, but you know your body best.


Lots of photos with locals!

Bhutan’s official and national language is Dzongkha, a Sino-Tibetan language spoken by over half a million people in the country. It’s a tough language to master and wouldn’t have much use outside Bhutan. Still, if you’re going to learn just one word while in Bhutan (and you should), it better be Kuzu Zangpo La. This means “Hello/How are you,” with the La added as a mark of respect to the person being addressed.

It’s how you will greet everyone, especially older people. Another important word to learn is “Kadrin Cheyla.” which means “Thank You.”

Will you Have Language Issues in Bhutan?

bhutan travel tips

Most Bhutanese can speak English very well, especially the younger generation. English is taught in schools nationwide, and unless you talk to someone very old, you’re unlikely to have any language barriers while in Bhutan. You’ll likely have cute children running up to you and trying to practice their English with you!

Bhutan travel tips
Children love to practice English with foreigners!

Remember that you’ll have a guide in Bhutan who will always be there to help with translations.

Are the Bhutanese Friendly?

the bhutanese are very friendly
monks in bhutan

Some people rave about the people of every country they visit. Saying they are the friendliest and go on and on. If you’ve been following our blog for some time now, you know we are not those bloggers. We tell it how it is or how we interpret it. I don’t say every culture is friendly – unless it is the Greeks, Scots, or Turks!

monks in bhutan

That being said, the Bhutanese blew us out of the water with their hospitality, and we genuinely considered them some of the most polite and friendly people we have encountered across our travels to 100+ countries. Maybe it has something to do with that “Gross National Happiness,” or perhaps they love seeing foreigners in a place that doesn’t see that much tourism compared to their neighbors.

Eat Bhutanese Food

bhutanese food
Typical Bhutanese Lunch

Before traveling to Bhutan, I must admit I was nervous. I read blog post after blog post complaining about the food served to tourists in Bhutan. As someone who loves to travel for food, I didn’t want to spend ten days eating mediocre buffet food. Either the Bhutanese tour operators got the message, or these bloggers were dramatic.

Most of the meals we had in Bhutan were simply amazing. Yes, there were a few duds, but our meals were overall rather delicious. When the hotels tried to cater to the Western diet, we did not enjoy our meals. However, we couldn’t stop eating when we were served Bhutanese food every day at lunch and a few breakfasts and dinners!

momos in bhutan

Bhutanese cuisine is diverse and often reflects the country’s unique culture and geography, and fresh vegetables, chicken or pork, and red rice are often served. Every meal usually came with the national dish of Bhutan – Ema Datshi, a spicy stew made with chili peppers and cheese (usually yak cheese), served with rice. We also couldn’t get enough of (Momos) and Phaksha Paa.

If you don’t mind eating local cuisine, tell your tour operator you prefer to eat local Bhutanese food. Otherwise, hotel operators might try to cater to the Western palette, or you’ll get neverending Indian food as many Indians visit Bhutan.

No Spice Please!

spice in bhutan
Chilis drying on the roof of nearly every house

While Bhutanese food is delicious, it is also incredibly spicy. We found Bhutanese food to be spicier than Indian food. Their love for spice is apparent as you’ll see red chilis drying under the sun on the roof of nearly every Bhutanese home. Ema Datshi, Jasha Maroo, and Shamu Datshi are all incredibly spicy.

I am not big on spice and often requested mild offerings, and restaurants were happy to accommodate!

What to Wear in Bhutan

What to Wear in Bhutan

Bhutan may be a tough one to pack for. Is it conservative? What about hiking? Is it hot? Bhutan is a relatively conservative Buddhist country, with most Bhutanese wearing traditional clothes daily. The Kira is a long skirt to the ankle with long sleeves and high necklines, while men wear the Gho, covering their legs and arms.

While tourists are not expected to dress like this, you should keep your clothing in mind. We visited during fall in Bhutan, and while at night it was chilly in places like Gangtey, I was also very hot when visiting the Punakha Valley.

What to Wear in Bhutan
My typical outfit

I never pulled out shorts in Bhutan and rarely saw another person wearing them. For my tops, I often wore a sweater or loose v-neck that covered my shoulders. A scarf to cover up at temples was also part of my daily attire. The only day I wore a tank was on the hike up to Tigers Nest, where most people wore workout gear, and even the Bhutanese stripped down their ghos and kiras.

What to Wear in Bhutan

If you’re on a trekking journey, your attire might differ slightly, as you’ll want hiking and mountain wear.

In general, err on the side of being more conservative when traveling to Bhutan, as you may feel uncomfortable if dressing too provocatively. Jeans, joggers, hiking pants, sweaters, scarves, and hiking/comfortable shoes should be thrown in your suitcase. If you forget a scarf, don’t worry; you can find nice Baby Yak Wool sweaters and scarfs throughout the country.

Invest in Slip on Shoes!

do as the monks do

This may be one of the most random Bhutan travel tips, but pack slip on shoes for your trip! I can’t even count the amount of times we had to remove our shoes for temples and monasteries but I can guarantee you you’ll be putting your shoes on and off a lot. I brought On Clouds, as they are some of the best women’s travel shoes, and they were perfect for the trip!

Dress in Traditional Attire

Bhutan traditional attire
Dressing in the gho and kira

The traditional Bhutanese attire is known as the “kira” for women and the “gho” for men. These garments hold significant cultural and social importance in Bhutan and are worn on formal occasions, during religious ceremonies, and even daily attire. Yes, the Bhutanese wear their traditional clothes daily, keeping culture alive in an increasingly modern world.

natasha and cameron at tigers nest temp
Dressing up at Tigers Nest

If you can wear a Kira and Gho on your Bhutan trip, you should 100% wear them for the day! They are not uncomfortable at all! We were able to dress in Kira and Gho twice! Once, to a local festival, where I was happy I had on the clothes, as my western wear would have made me stick out like a sore thumb, and again at Tigers Nest Temple (for photos, admittedly)

Many tour operators have kiras and ghos for tourists to wear as they know tourists love to try these clothes on.

Dressing for Temples and Dzongs

Dressing for Temples and Dzongs in bhutan
Cover your shoulders while in religious monuments

Bhutan stands as the last Vajrayana Buddhist country in the entire world, and as you travel around, you’ll see hundreds of religious sites ranging from roadside stupas to temples, monasteries, and nunneries.

Kindly observe silence as a mark of respect for the people’s faith when exploring any sacred site.

bhutan monks evening prayer
Evening prayer with the monks (we had special permission to use our camera here)

Exercise mindfulness when capturing images of individuals engaged in prayer or participating in holy festivals. Avoid positioning yourself between religious observers and altars and it’s best to remove caps and hats when visiting sacred sites or interacting with elders. If seated on the floor alongside a monk, nun, elder, or host, it is recommended to adopt a cross-legged sitting posture.

natasha with monk
Meditation with monk

For temple visits, wear long sleeves and cover your legs. Upon entry, remove your shoes and abstain from taking photographs inside these sacred sites. Dago told us on our first day in Bhutan that if you have to take your shoes off, you can assume you cannot take photos or video inside.

Attend a Festival!

bhutan festival
Attending a festival in Bhutan

Bhutan is a land of festivals, with every valley having a festival, or Tshechu yearly. A fun Bhutan fact we learned is that the monks usually put on the festivals as they revolve around religion! I was set on attending at least one festival on our visit to Bhutan and was very happy when our schedule in Gangtey aligned with a local festival.

natasha alden at bhutan festival

Our festival day was one of the best days of our entire trip. Bhutanese culture is deeply enriched by its vibrant festival. These events hold profound religious importance and are predominantly marked by the enchanting expressions of music and traditional masked dances. Seeing this in person was an important part of our cultural trip.

If you want to attend a festival while visiting Bhtuean (and you definitely should!), ask your tour operator for a calendar of festivals in Bhutan and try to align your travel dates accordingly. Remember that most festivals take place between October and April, the best time to travel to Bhutan and the high season in Bhutan.

When is the Best Time to Visit Bhutan?

When is the Best Time to Visit Bhutan?

The optimal periods for a visit to Bhutan are typically regarded as either the spring months between March to May or the autumn season spanning September to December. The climate is generally delightful, with dry and mild conditions during these times. It does get hot in Bhutan during the summer months, and it’s also their monsoon season, and it may be unenjoyable to travel during this time.

bhutan travel
Bhutan in October

We planned our trip accordingly and arrived in Bhutan on October 15th, staying the last two weeks of October and having very comfortable weather for most of our journey. We knew that Bhutan was one of the best places to travel in October and we were met with pleasant sunny days, a bit of warm weather, and a bit of cooler weather.

For those intrigued by the elusive black-necked cranes, it’s best to visit the Phobjikha Valley from late October to mid-February for the best chance of spotting them.

3-Star and 4-Star Hotels in Bhutan

Gangtey Lodge Terrrace
Gangtey Lodge was DREAMY

When looking at Bhutan’s accommodation options, you’ll notice many are offered as 3 and 4* for tourists. We realized that these 3* and 4* hotels were three and four-star by Bhutanese standards and not what we would consider 4* throughout the rest of the world.

Most of the hotels we stayed at were adequate, but they weren’t fantastic. That is besides the 5* star hotels, which truly are luxury in Bhutan. There are a few 5* properties in Bhutan, and they are top-level. We enjoyed a beautiful stay at Gangtey Lodge and another fantastic stay at Zhiwa Ling Heritage.

If you want a luxury trip to Bhutan, we recommend Gangtey, Zhiwaling, or looking at the Six Senses offerings and Aman.

The Service Everywhere is Top Notch

At Zhiwa Ling in Paro

Despite being a bit underwhelmed by some of the properties we stayed at, I must admit that we were met with amazing service nearly everywhere we went in Bhutan, From family restaurants to homestays, the 3* hotels, and, of course, the five-star hotels, the service blew us away.

hot stone bath in bhutan
Enjoying a traditional hot stone bath

Every time we entered and exited our car, Dago and our driver, Mumlau, opened the door for us to the point where I had to ask them to stop! The Bhutanese treat their guests well!

Can you Drink the Water in Bhutan?

Can you Drink the Water in Bhutan?

It’s best not to drink the tap water in Bhutan. Though treated, it may not be safe for foreigners. We stuck to bottled water and used our Lifestraw Filter while traveling the country.

Stray Dogs in Bhutan

Stray Dogs in bhutan
street dogs in bhutan

I was surprised by the stray dog population in Bhutan, especially in Thimphu. They are everywhere, and it seems that like the Greeks with their cats, the Bhutanese have fully embraced these stray street pups. A fun Bhutan fact is that they are the first country in the World To Achieve 100% Dog Sterilization and vaccination!

Stray Dogs in bhutan
stray dogs everywhere

Despite a huge stray dog population, we were shocked by how fluffy, friendly, and well-fed most of these dogs were. Perhaps it’s the Buddhist mindset as they aspire to minimize harm, particularly towards animals, and strive to cultivate loving-kindness towards all sentient beings, including animals. The principle of right livelihood in Buddhism guides followers to abstain from occupations involving harming or killing animals. We learned that even all the meat consumed in Bhutan is imported from India. There are no slaughterhouses in Bhutan, though meat is a main factor in the Bhutanese diet.

Learn to Love the Phallus

phalluses in bhutan
What’s that your making, sir?

While traveling to Bhutan, you’ll likely see many…phalluses. Yes, the country loves Phalluses, especially in Punakha.

But why? The depiction of phalluses, often known as “Lingam” or “Phallus symbols,” is part of Bhutanese culture, particularly associated with the protective deity known as the “Divine Madman” or “Drukpa Kunley.”

phalluses in bhutan

The phallus symbols are considered sacred and are believed to ward off evil spirits and bring good luck and fertility. They are commonly painted on houses and buildings, and wooden phalluses are also used as offerings in religious ceremonies.

If you want to learn more, make sure your tour includes visiting Chimi Lhakhang in Punakha.

Tip Your Guide

dago and me in bhutan

While it’s not compulsory, it is customary to tip your guide and driver while in Bhutan. They work very hard to ensure their guests are enjoying Bhutan. It’s impressive how knowledgeable most of them are! Our guide and driver were with us for ten days, and most were at least with their guests for seven days so make sure to budget tips in accordingly.

Is Bhutan The Last Shangri La?

The Last Shangri La?
Northern plains gray langur

Bhutan has been described as the last Shangri La, or one of the world’s last Edens. At the core of Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness philosophy are four pillars, with environmental conservation standing out as a vital element, acknowledging nature’s significance for the well-being of its people.

The constitution even mandates landscape protection in Bhutan, requiring a minimum of 60 percent of the country’s land to be forested at all times, a goal consistently met, according to WWF. Currently, the forest coverage stands at approximately 70 percent. Remarkably, over 50 percent of Bhutan (5 million acres) is designated as protected land, representing the highest percentage among all Asian countries.

Endangered species like royal Bengal tigers, snow leopards, and elephants thrive within these boundaries. I was surprised by the amount of Bhutanese I met that said they regularly see tigers, like it was no big deal!

The time to Visit Bhutan is Now!

Punakha Dzong
Viewpoint of the Punakha Dzong

Bhutan is undergoing rapid transformation, marked by extensive construction, especially in Thimphu and Paro. For instance, before 1961, due to the absence of paved roads, transportation in Bhutan primarily relied on walking or using mules and horses. A journey covering 205 kilometers from the Indian border to Thimphu took six days. It wasn’t until just 20 years ago that the country’s road network improved.

Natasha traveling bhutan
Make sure always to spin your prayer wheels!

While this development brings Bhutan closer to the modern world, the distinctive charm and authenticity that may have attracted you to the country is diminishing. We found much more authentic Bhutanese experiences in the Gangtey Valley and Bumthang, and if you want to dig deep, try going to Eastern Bhutan! If you have plans to visit Bhutan, we recommend to do so sooner rather than later to capture its genuine essence.

We booked our trip to Bhutan with Happiness Kingdom Travels, who have offered World Pursuit readers 5% off their trip to Bhutan. Mention us when inquiring for the discount! Here is the trip we booked, with a few adjustments for our personal preferences (like the Gangtey Valley!)

Plan For Your Trip

About Natasha Alden

Natasha is the co-founder of The World Pursuit. She is an expert in travel, budgeting, and finding unique experiences. She loves to be outside, hiking in the mountains, playing in the snow on her snowboard, and biking. She has been traveling for over 10 years, across 7 continents, experiencing unique cultures, new food, and meeting fantastic people. She strives to make travel planning and traveling easier for all. Her advice about international travel, outdoor sports, and African safari has been featured on Lonely Planet, Business Insider, and Reader’s Digest.

Learn more about Natasha Alden on The World Pursuit About Us Page.