Bhutan: World’s ‘Happiest Country’ Shuns Mass Market Tourism

simtokha-dzong
Simtokha Dzong in Bhutan. A dzong is a kind of fortress with complex of courtyards, temples, administrative offices, and monks’ accommodation, -Photo Credit: Bernard Gagnon.

World’s Happiest Country

Tucked high the Himalaya Mountains,  the Kingdom of Bhutan thinks of itself as the world’s ‘happiest country’. The country’s monasteries, temples, fortresses, remote villages, and its picturesque capital are popular with travelers.

Bhutan 101

The Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan, nestled in between China and India, is said to rate Number One on the Gross National Happiness scale.

Nearly isolated from the outside world until recently, the country of under 700,000 people banned television until 1999. Tourism is one of its most important sources of revenue.

Mountain trekking and exploring the country’s the country’s monasteries, temples, fortresses, remote villages, and picturesque capital are all popular activities with travellers.

But if tourism is one of the country’s most important sources of revenue, what you will NOT find in Bhutan is mass market tourism.

The postage stamp sized country strictly limits how many tourists are allowed in. It is interested in quality travel rather than quantity travel.

Paro International Airport

paro-international-airport-terminal-building
Terminal at Paro International Airport.. Photo Credit: Douglas J. McLaughlin

Bhutan has one international airport, Paro International Airport. The airport is served by 2 domestic airlines and no foreign air carriers: Drukair, the Royal Bhutan Airlines, and Bhutan Airlines.

International travel destinations include Bangkok, Thailand; Dhaka, Bangladesh; Delhi, India; Katmandu, Nepal; Kolkuta, India; Mumbai, India; and Singapore.

The flights from Delhi and Katmandu are especially recommended because they afford views of 5 of the world’s highest mountain peaks.

Blogger’s Travel Tip: for the best view, try to book a seat on the left side of the airplane flying into Bhutan and on the right side of the plane when departing.

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