Bhutan is a landlocked country. The kingdom of Bhutan is a Monarchical with the parliamentary system nation. Mostly, the population believes and follows Buddhism. Most of the Bhutanese are proud of their unique traditional Buddhist culture. These traditional cultures have been practiced centuries back to Tibet till the modern era and still continuing, which has given Bhutan both its written language and its strain of Buddhism. As an independent constitutional monarchical country, Bhutan has been able to preserve its traditional culture. And it wants to share that culture with the world through the means of visitors.
Bhutan has the highest tourist fee of anywhere in the world. It is due to Bhutan’s government policy of “low volume, high quality” tourism which led Bhutan to a highly regarded destination among selective travelers.
It costs a minimum of US$200-$250/person per day to stay at this isolated Himalayan Kingdom that includes the living cost such as land transport, accommodations, food and traveller’s guide service.
The cost does seem restrictive for some. It is due to the government’s way of protecting the cultural heritage and natural environment of the country from being exploitation by mass tourism. It ensures that the preferred visitors gets the most value out of their trips. The main theme of high cost is the ‘High Value, Low Impact’ for the nation.
If you’ve visited Bhutan, what are your thoughts on the tourist fee?
Generally, people who are visiting Bhutan says,”It’s quiet expensive to pay $200-250/person per day. But, however this cost is not for a visa, it includes other living cost during the stay.”
The cost of $200 and $250/person per night has been categorized according to the month of travel.
The month of January, February, June, July, August and December costs $200 whereas the costing for March, April, May, September, October, and November is $250.
The cost of living during the stay includes the following facilities and accommodations:
When the traveller perceives these wonderful facilities and accommodation, they really forget about the high cost over the value they actually receive through the satisfaction during the stay. The price is reasonable for the value they receive.
At first, Bhutan is a peace country riches in unique traditional Buddhist culture with the enormous natural beauty. The real reasons that made the traveler ready to pay USD$200-250 comfortably are given below:
The daily life of the people living in Bhutan begins with the traditional ritual Buddhist culture practice with the help of prayer flags, wheels and white Chortens. Mahayana Buddhism is the state religion of Bhutan. The real Buddhism can easily be felt while travelling to Bhutan.
The universally accepted thought and practice can be found in Buddhism. The lesson given by the Lord Buddha is that Life is very beautiful but the suffering is the essential part with the small portion of happiness that goes on and on once a life has been discovered. Thus, everyone has to accept it with positive mind and spread love and peace along with the kind heart towards other and the society until the existence of life. The emotions (suffering and joys) are the usual parts of life which is under the control of our minds. Instead, the mind has to be free from any kind of stress in-order to create positive thoughts and feelings.
In terms of monasteries, Bhutanese Dzong monasteries’ architectural designs are amazingly surprising and unique in character. The Dzong’s are the administrative and religious centre of authority in each region of Bhutan. The popularly known dzongs in Bhutan can be found in Punakha and Trongsa. The large white washed forts with batteres walls (inwards sloping to appear larger than they actually are) is an ancient architectural masterpiece that still exists with it’s originality, functions and beauty which is connected with the legends and thrilling myths.
The Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan offers a unique festival or ‘Tsechus‘ which is an essential part of Bhutanese life. The composition of bright and colourful costumes with lots of masked dancing prides a wonderful opportunity for a scene-graphic photography. Each and every people and tourists are requested to attend and witness the ‘Tsechus’ at least once, compulsorily to receive the blessings from the hollyness and gods to wash away the sins.
The most anticipated 320yrs. old Monastery in Bhutan that no any visitor gets back to their nation without the visit to Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest). It is located on the edge of a cliff about 900m. above the rice fields of Paro. It is considered to be the most sacred religious sites.
The founder and the holy person of Tibetan Buddhism known as Guru Rinpoche meditated for years inside that cave where the heart of the temple lies in these days. The Tiger’s Nest is now a part of Buddhist meditation and tourist attraction site. The wind that passes through the pine forest brings a cool environment towards the Tiger’s Nest monastery. The smiling pilgrimage and landscape view from this place looks amazing. However, the hike takes some effort to reach the place but when reached, it takes us to the heaven in the earth.
The landscape of Bhutan rises from the range of 150m. to more than 7,500m. from the sea level. The geographical diversity combined with equally diverse climatic condition provides the wide range of biodiversity and ecosystem.
Those who are interested in nature and bird-watching, Phobjkha Valley, the valley of Black-necked Crane is the best destination. This place is unique for it’s endless fields of bambo shrubs and inspiring mountains with the rarest species of Black-necked crane that are found here. It is believed that these birds are the gifts from the heaven and is known as ‘Bird of Heaven’ and are found near the holy places. The Buddhist tradition and culture have deep respect towards the birds. The people also celebrate a festival in the name of this bird too.
Interestingly, we can feel the Budhist practice followed by these birds at the local Black-necked Crane Visitor Center where these birds fly clockwise three times around the local Gangteng Monastry when they arrive in the fall and before the migration in early to late spring.. In Buddist practice, it is believed that the clockwise movement in the Monastry helps to get rid of negative energy from the soul and the body.
The nightlife of Bhutan represents a drayang in any of the bigger towns and cities for entertainment that opens till 11p.m.. These are the local night-clubs that comes complete with the disco balls and flickering lights set amid simple wooden interiors.
The center of entertainment lies in the singing part. The customer choose the in-house talent to perform on stage by paying certain amount. The market rate per tune is BTN 30 (around US$0.60). Bhutanese performs belt out request in Dzongkha and Hindi while customers kick back with Red Panda beers. Do not go after the lyrics, it be may be unrecognizable, just feel the shrill voice and watch the traditional movement during performance. It is fascinating and fun night out. Be sure you arrive to the Drayang before it’s too since the place closes at 11p.m.
The location of Bhutan and a geographic condition with the government policy costs a $200-250/night inclusive of all tourist fee+$40+30/40 terrify for duo and a solo travellers. It seems to be quiet expensive but the number of benefits that a traveller receives from that cost is much worthy. The travel is free of managing different things after paying this cost and enjoys the trip with proper guidance relax. The guide ensures that no any tourist takes part in disturbing and illegal activities. To maintain the natural hillside and the environment, the government took the policy of expensive cost which helps to prevent overcrowd of tourist.
The best thing about this cost is that 35% of the cost goes for social welfare and program conducted by the Government such as educational and healthcare, infrastructure and nature conservation. This supports both the community and the tourist to make the society beauty and healthy.
Buddhism in Bhutan is more a regular routine life than a religion. This deeply rooted mentality of Budhhism creates a peaceful environment in the society. It is no surprise if anyone saw an old man or woman at the Memorial Chorten walking round and round with a strin of beads in hands. If you want peace , move to the meditation retreats to let yourself go.
The kingdom of Bhutan is somehow different to others (especially for westerners). The Gross National Happiness Index can be felt whenever you visit to Bhutan. For the world’s best hotel and delicious, you are not visiting to Bhutan paying such a money. The real reason behind the readyness to pay that cost is the living environment, traditional cultures and dress, the way the leader’s move into battle with their troops when necessary, the respect to the king, the love and affection between the people and the king and many more surprises that can be explore during the stay. The interesting fact, about this place is that the tradition of the good old days are still being practiced originally as it used to be from the capital of Thimpu and even the outer villages. I have been to many countries but this land is very different to others in term of tradition, believes, behavior, culture and bio-diversity that I’ve been to before.
The kingdom of Bhutan was kept in isolation for years in-order to preserve its rich cultural identity. The history of tourism in Bhutan is just of four decade years old. The true meaning of cultural spirit and authenticity can be seen and felt only in Bhutan.
On the street on Bhutan, the local language Dzongka and Sharchop can be heard everywhere spoken by the Bhutanese. These people normally preferred to wear the traditional dresses that can be seen on the local streets of Bhutan as well. The traditional Dzongka style architectural features are still adopted along with the Budhhism colors in every building.
Globalization has brought the positive changes and reaction in the locals after the arrival of TV and the internet in 1999.
The government imposed ban on non-traditional forms of architecture. There is a special dress code for working attire where male wears ‘GHO’ and female wears ‘KIRA’ for official duties. Despite this, one can occasionally see T-shirts and jeans worn by young Bhutanese on weekends. Now, in the middle of Thimpu, there stands an escalator-equipped shopping mall.
“Around 90 percent of the people who are coming Bhutan are old age over 50, Bhutan’s draw mostly from the older generation. That’s partly because of Bhutan’s unique and long-standing system of requiring visitors to spend at least $200 a day paid in advance through wire transfer that includes living cost, accommodation, guide and transportation. Next year, the tariff may goes up to $250 a day. Tourism Officers of Bhutan acknowledges that this might help to lower the number of tourist but increases the quality service along with the preservation and conservation of the old traditional cultures and environment.
“Bhutan can never be a destination for mass tourism. It’s a small country. The environment is dynamic with the negative changes. Bhutan’s government is conscious about protecting the environment, way of life and ensuring that the development of tourism is sustainable. And those tourists who visit experience a wonderful culture, nature and the environment. Tourist have a complete immersion in a different time, in a different culture. And the experience is amazing. It’s not put on for show, and that, we’d like to protect it.”