"Asian Switzerland" named the most popular tourist destination of 2024: what to see in Bhutan
A small country in the southern part of Asia, Bhutan, with the capital Thimphu, is increasingly attracting the attention of tourists with its picturesque landscapes, colorful Buddhist culture, and status as one of the happiest countries in the world, which is why it has been nicknamed the "Asian Switzerland".
The country opened its borders to travelers relatively recently, in the 70s of the last century, so it is not often talked about as one of the most popular travel destinations. Metro noted that despite the fact that more than 70% of the territory is forested, there is still plenty to see and do in Bhutan.
It's worth noting that this South Asian country was the first to have a negative carbon footprint, meaning that it uses more CO2 than it emits into the atmosphere. In particular, Bhutan is a monarchical country that has its own king, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, who has a slightly different image and does not wear a velvet red hat.
The easiest way to get to the country is by plane to Paro Airport. The circle-shaped National Museum of Bhutan, Rinpung Dzong Fortress, and one of the most picturesque monasteries on the edge of a cliff, Tiger's Nest, are located within 10 minutes from the airport.
What to visit
There is another monastery in the Gangtey Valley, Gangtey Gompa, which has been operating since the 17th century. In particular, if you're lucky, you can get to the Tshechu festival in the valley, which is held on the tenth day of the month of the Tibetan lunar calendar.
You can admire the Himalayas from the highest village in the mountains in Bhutan, Laya. In October, the Royal Highland Festival is held there, where gifts are given and poetry is recited.
In particular, Bhutan welcomes campers. If this type of vacation does not seem very attractive, there are luxurious tent villas in the pine forests. For those who like to hike, there is even the Trans-Bhutan Trail, which allows you to cross the whole of Bhutan on foot. Until the 1960s, this road was the only way to get around the country. Over the past hundreds of years, it has been used by pilgrims, messengers, armies, and traders.
Cyclists will also find a treat in Bhutan. There are specialized tours that can be adapted to the level of cycling experience and individually planned to the sights you would like to see.
The country has seven main rivers: Puna Tsang, Wang Chhu, Sankosh, Mangde Chhu, Mo Chhu, and Drangme, so rafting can be another type of outdoor activity.
In addition to traditional sports, Metro recommends trying to immerse yourself in Asian culture with Bhutanese archery, khuru (a type of darts), and soksom (spear throwing with a target).