Bhutan is a land of breathtaking beauty, with an air of mystery and magic. It’s also considered to be the Happiest Country in the World, thanks to the unique concept of a Gross National Happiness as part of its overall fabric. Antique traditions blend harmoniously with modern developments, while the environment is meticulously preserved with the support of a daily fee applied to all visitors to the country. Stunning natural scenery provide the backdrop to breathtaking temples and monasteries, including the world-famous Tiger’s Nest precariously perched on the edge of a cliff overlooking the majestic Paro valley, and numerous lively festivals add a kaleidoscope of colours to the streets.
The tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, or “Land of the Thunder Dragon” as the Bhutanese call it, is a place where traditional Buddhist culture carefully embraces the onset of modern development.
Gross National Happiness
Bhutan prides itself with inventing the concept of the Gross National Happiness index (GNH), which more than anything illustrates the spirit of the country. This philosophy, promoted by the Bhutanese monarchy since 1998, aims for a balance between material and spiritual happiness, where development is measured by using a holistic approach of well-being, not just gross domestic product. Perhaps as a result, Bhutan is often declared as the happiest country in the world.
Nestled between its powerful neighbours of India and China, Bhutan fiercely guards its ancient traditions which remain vibrant and alive in numerous lively festivals held throughout the year.
Natural scenery and spectacular sights
With a setting high up in the Himalayas, Bhutan’s scenery is often breathtaking, with stunning views of snowcapped mountain peaks rising above gorges cloaked in primeval forest while national parks abound with a vast range of flora and fauna.
Adding to this picturesque landscape are majestic fortress-like dzongs, stunning monasteries such as the famous Tiger’s Nest, sacred temples and enchanting villages with vibrant local markets and bazaars featuring beautiful textiles and traditional handicraft.
The Bhutanese pride themselves on a sustainable approach to the tourist industry. Tourism must be environmentally and ecologically friendly, socially and culturally acceptable and economically viable. Visitors must travel with a pre-arranged package or guided tour, and backpacking and independent travel is discouraged. Visitors also pay a fixed amount for each day they stay in the country, with part of this amount goes to financing free education and health care, poverty alleviation and building of infrastructure.
The Royal Government of Bhutan believes that tourism, along with helping the country in it socioeconomic development, will also promote a deeper understanding and strengthen ties of friendship between between different cultures and lifestyles. By law, at least 60% of the country must remain forested for future generations, further proving the country’s emphasis on the importance of sustainability, social harmony and happiness as part of daily life.
A truly happy country
Whether you are passionate about trekking, learning about antique cultures or dancing until you drop with the locals during one of the many tshechus (dance festivals), a visit to Bhutan offers visitors the rare opportunity to understand true happiness in a country that emphasizes balance and harmony between tradition and modernity, materialism and spiritualism, and society and nature.
Bhutan is the Happiest Country in the World. Visit this land and be awed.
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