Never heard of Bhutan? Good, that’s the beauty of it. A staggeringly beautiful and deeply spiritual country full of mystery and intrigue, if you’re looking for a tailor-made holiday that is entirely out of the ordinary, you’ve come to the right place.
At a glance
If you’re in need of a complete change from the intensity of the 24/7 digital age, look no further. Bhutan is a country which only opened its doors to tourists in 1974 and has remained relatively untouched by the modern world. The ‘Land of the Thunder Dragon’ (its literal translation from the Bhutanese language) is deeply Buddhist; ancient monasteries pepper the hill sides and offer a snapshot into the country’s past. This is also a country which holds Gross National Happiness in higher esteem than Gross National Product and worships the penis. Yes really. But it’s also a breathtakingly beautiful part of the world and the perfect choice for an unusual holiday. Bhutan is vastly unknown but just begging to be explored.
What to see
Protected by the Himalayan Mountains, the country’s diverse scenery is largely due to its great range of terrain and climates. Some peaks exceed 7,000 metres whilst in the west; you’ll find lush subtropical valleys dotted with fluttering colourful prayer flags. Bhutan’s unique culture is due to its positioning, locked between China, India and Nepal; whether you’re looking for bustling cities in the West, ancient relics in the Centre, or untrodden paths in the East, there is a region for you. In the beautiful valley of Paro, overlooked by breath-taking Mt. Chomolhari, is a shrine to the Buddhists’ most sacred site – the Taktsang Monastery, or more affectionately known as the Tiger’s Nest. Now one of Bhutan’s most impressive landmarks, it clings to a sheer cliff, 3000 feet above the valley and is an absolute must when visiting this country. For dramatic mountain scenery, the route over the Black Mountains from western to central Bhutan is an experience to remember. Want to delve deeper into Bhutan’s spiritual DNA? Then make sure you visit the spectacular valleys of Bumthang. This is one of the most sacred areas in Bhutan renowned for being home to the most monasteries and temples in the kingdom. Believe us; it’s not long before you’ll really start to feel this country’s magical draw. And for a complete culture twist, head to the lush, sub-tropical valley of Chimi Lakhang. Set against a backdrop of awe-inspiring views of the Himalayas, this is a monastery, but not as you know it. Devoted to fertility, its religious relics are none other than phallic objects used to bless devout women by hitting them on the head. Admittedly not your standard temple but a fascinating alternative.
Why we love it
This place has got the balance between the spiritual and the material nailed. Despite being virtually cut off from the outside world, it’s a country we think we could all learn a thing or two from. Fancy swapping your desk at work for some yoga on a cliff top whilst looking out across the Himalayas? Need we say more?