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Overview

Shielded from the 21st century by a strict tourism policy and a rugged mountain wall, Bhutan is everything a Himalayan kingdom should be: ancient, immaculate and arcane. During the 1960s, the Bhutanese king realized that tourism posed a threat to the culture of Bhutan, and the kingdom was closed off to visitors; even today, it is only possible to visit on a tour, arranged through an approved travel agent. As a result, Bhutan exists in a state of suspended animation. The pace of life is dictated by the seasons and Buddhist dzongs (fortress monasteries) form the focal point of Bhutanese society. Most visitors fly into Paro, or travel overland ...

Shielded from the 21st century by a strict tourism policy and a rugged mountain wall, Bhutan is everything a Himalayan kingdom should be: ancient, immaculate and arcane. During the 1960s, the Bhutanese king realized that tourism posed a threat to the culture of Bhutan, and the kingdom was closed off to visitors; even today, it is only possible to visit on a tour, arranged through an approved travel agent. As a result, Bhutan exists in a state of suspended animation. The pace of life is dictated by the seasons and Buddhist dzongs (fortress monasteries) form the focal point of Bhutanese society. Most visitors fly into Paro, or travel overland from India to the capital, Thimpu. From here, a single highway loops east through a series of dramatic valleys, dotted with monasteries and criss-crossed by trekking routes. How much you see will depends on your budget - visitors pay a fixed fee of US$200 per day (US$165 from July to August), covering food, accommodation, transport and guides.

Joe Bindloss
About the Expert

Joe Bindloss has written more than 30 guidebooks for Lonely Planet, Time Out and other publishers, with a focus on Southeast Asia, the Indian Subcontinent and island nations.

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Joe Bindloss for Triporati

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