Bhutan is around the same size as Switzerland, and has a population of about 800,000. Bhutan’s uniqueness stems from its virtual isolation from the rest of the world until relatively recent times. Its people, culture and religious festivals are testimony to a rich way of life which has changed little for over 1000 years. Monuments to its rich history and Buddhist tradition are visible throughout the landscape.
There are three distinct regions from west to east to consider in planning your trip. Each offers its own special treats. The west is famous for its beautiful mountains and fertile valleys, colourful houses, historic sites and museums in the towns of Thimphu, Paro and Punakha. A number of day hikes are possible in this area as well as a number of treks of varying lengths. Central Bhutan is known as the Asian Switzerland for its beautiful landscapes and is also the spiritual heartland of Bhutan with its many temples and monasteries. This area also offers several opportunities for day walks in the stunning Bumthang valleys and the chance to visit many important religious sites including the important historic town of Trongsa, ancestral seat of Bhutan’s ruling dynasty.
The eastern region is the most densely populated area of Bhutan and least visited by foreigners. However if you have the time to travel east it is well worth the effort, with its remote valleys, temperate climate, monasteries and tradition of stunning craftsmanship in woodwork and exquisite hand-woven textiles. Don’t forget though, that to access the east you need to be prepared for some lengthy drives on rather rugged mountain roads and also more basic facilities and amenities as you travel.
Awareness and knowledge of Bhutan is steadily rising and many international observers consider it a land of happiness.