Bhutan General Information
Land of the Thunder Dragon
Sandwiched between India and Tibet and for centuries forbidden to foreigners, the kingdom of Bhutan has preserved its timeless traditions and ancestral way of life. Apart from the rich cultural heritage, it is a land of soaring scenery of paramount peaks. Scared mountains, often unnamed and unclimbed, soar above tropical forests and richly cultivated valleys. Ancient legends are preserved in spectacular Cliffside monasteries and colorful festivals echo the unwavering Buddhist beliefs of the local people.
The selected trek highlights begin from Paro where the famous “Tiger Nest” monastery is perched high on a vertical 2,000 foot cliff face. From here there is a choice to either trek east, via Thimpu the capital city, to Gangtey, or north towards Laya village through the wild and rugged country on the border with Tibet.
A choice toward the east is relatively easier with a combination of the Gagtey and the Bumthang valleys. The trek leads into a beautiful and unspoiled countryside, through forests of rhododendron, magnolia and juniper, and across two gentle passes with wonderful views of the mountains to the north. The stop at Gogana with its enchanting monastery and nomadic dialect, the Bjopkha, will be a haunting experience. On the other hand Bhumthang is considered the most sacred of the valleys from where a circuitous route across the Phephel Pass to the Thang valley holds spiritual essence.
North of Paro, the trek involves some 150 miles of rugged walking the trail moves through the villages of Linghsi, Laya and Gassa. The attractions of this trek include semi-tropical and alpine forests home to a wealth of birdlife and flora. Higher up dwell the blue sheep, takin the horned ruminant and various species of beautiful birds. Through out the trek semi-nomadic life full with the magnificent panoramic views of Chomolhari, Jichu Brake and Tsering Gang.
Adventure Specialist Travel can also arrange the variety of treks, cultural tours in Bhutan. We will forward all necessary details upon receiving your inquiries.
Besides treks, Adventure Specialists Travel organizes rafting adventures in four rapid strewn Himalayan Rivers and private climbing expedition for groups and individuals to any of Nepal’s trekking peaks. Details are available on request.
Full Country Name
Kingdom of Bhutan
46,620 sq km (18,182 sq mi)
700,000 (approax. 1 million)
Thimpu (Population: 40,000)
Dzongkha, English, Sharchopha, Nepali etc
70% Buddhist, 25% Hindu, 5% others
Jigmey Singey Wangchuck
Rotates every year among the cabinet ministers
Bhutan time is 6 hours ahead of GMT and there is only one time zone throughout the country.
The national language is Dzongkha. English is widely spoken in major towns and is a medium of education in schools. Other widely spoken languages are Nepali, Bumthap, Sharchop and Hindi. There are a host of local dialects spoken in small pockets within the country.
The unit of currency is the ngultrum (Nu), which is equivalent to one Indian Rupee. The Indian rupee is also legal tender. Major convertible currencies and travelers' Cheques can be exchanged at banks in all major towns. Certain credit cards (MasterCard, Visa, & American Express) are accepted at a few large hotels and some shops.
Bhutanese eat simple and are renowned for the plentiful use of chilies; among the most popular dish is an "Ema Datshi' made entirely out of chilies and cheese. However Tourist hotels and lodges offer buffet style meals with choice of continental, Bhutanese and Indian Cuisine. On Treks and camping, you will be pleasantly surprised by what our cooks can prepare.
It is safer to drink bottled, boiled and filtered water. A reasonable variety of both hard and soft drinks are available in hotels, restaurants and shops in most towns. Many Bhutanese enjoy drinking traditional homemade alcoholic brews made from wheat, millet or rice.
All towns in western Bhutan have a reliable power supply. Elsewhere, access is less consistent, and electricity is not available in many outlying areas of the country. The voltage supply is 220/240, the same as India. If you do bring electrical appliances, take along an international converter kit complete with a set of adapter plugs. The sockets are round.
The main health risks are similar to other South Asian countries, namely diarrhea, respiratory infection or more unusual tropical infection. It is wise to have health insurance, and although vaccinations are not mandatory they are recommended. When trekking, there are also risks associated with altitude sickness and accident. In the event of health problems there are basic hospital facilities in each district headquarters.
The crime rate is currently extremely low, making Bhutan one of the safer places in the world. It is rare to feel insecure within the country.
All major towns have basic communication facilities, including post, telephone, fax and telegraph. Television and internet were introduced in 1999, and can be accessed from most towns and cities.
The most popular tourist purchases are traditional Bhutanese arts and handicrafts. Produced by skilled artisans, these are generally of a high quality, and include Buddhist paintings and statues, textiles, jewelry and wooden bowls and carvings. Bhutan is not a consumer society, and the variety of everyday goods available is not particularly large. Bhutan is also popular for its exquisite postage stamps.
The central valleys of Punakha, Wangdiphodrang, Mongar, Trashigang and Lhunsthi enjoy a semi tropical climate with very cool winters, while Thimphu, Paro, Tongsa and Bumthang have pleasant summer, cold winters, with monsoon rains mainly from June-August.
At the end of September, after the last of the big rains, autumn suddenly arrives, and is a magnificent season for trekking until November.
Winter in Bhutan is from starts from the end of November until Febuary, and at this time of the year the climate is dry, with daytime temperatures sometimes falling below zero Celsius.
The southern part of Bhutan is tropical, and in general the east of Bhutan is warmer than the west of the country.
National Symbols of Bhutan
Find out more about national symbols; Flag, national anthem, emblem, national animal, bird, flower, tree, national sport - archery etc.
Archery the National Sport
Since time immemorial Bhutanese have been passionate about their national sport of Dha. Competitions are a riot of colour and excitement, with two teams in traditional dress shooting at small wooden targets placed 140m apart (Olympic standard is 50m).
One of the ancient names for Bhutan was Menjong 'the Land of Medicinal Herbs'.
The Himalayan Buddhist system of medicine is called So-ba Rig-pa and is practised in many countries today. Because it originally developed in ancient Tibet, it is commonly known as Tibetan medicine.
The Black Necked Cranes
The rare and endangered black-necked crane occupies a special place in Bhutanese hearts and folklore. Its arrival every autumn from Tibet inspires songs and dances; it usually heralds the end of the harvesting season and also the time when farm families start migrating to warmer climates.