Cultural Tours and Sightseeing in Bhutan
There may be no more picturesque place on earth than Bhutan, for its natural beauty and ancient culture, barely touched by the modern world. The capital city, Thimphu, is small enough that there are no traffic lights. Decorated wooden homes with windowed balconies in central Bhutan often have a crossed phallus and sword hung at each roof corner. You may see "spirit catchers" discarded by the path, having been abandoned, along with the malevolent beings they ensnared, to the wilds. And you will meet happy and smiling people, deeply religious and deeply hospitable, and far "richer" than us, for being poor.
Religion is a part of life and self for the mostly Buddhist Bhutanese. It instructs the great arts and crafts of Bhutan: painting, woodwork, sculputre, embroidery and leather work, weaving and paper. All this contributes to the rich fabric of Bhutanese culture.
Gross National Happiness, not western economics, is the bottom line here for all major policy decisions, and the pace of integrating with the modern world is deliberately slow. Bhutan has benefitted greatly from two intelligent and forward-thinking kings, and the new democracy under young King Jigme Khesar will try to follow their lead.
There are nine nature reserves and parks in Bhutan, and several unique species. All of our pre-set programs include natural wonders - an individualized trip could emphasise this. Fishing is discouraged in many places in Bhutan due to the emphasis on not taking life, but anglers will find that catch-and-release fishing is permitted in some places, and the trout are enormous!
The great dzongs of Bhutan are fortified monasteries and administrative centers. The country's civil service is largely made up of lamas; the overlap between church and state is more pronounced for the physical overlap of facilities. The Dzongs are large, impressive forts - each unique in decoration, form and function. Parts of dzongs will be off-limits, understandably as they are functioning offices and worship centers as well as spectacular attractions.
Western and central 11 days - Including Trongsa and the Ura Valley
East / West 15 days - The wild, wild East and more!
Brokpa (Exclusive) 20 days - Extend East/West to focus on Yak herders' culture in Trashi Yangtse
The best travel book about Bhutan is the Lonely Planet's guidebook. It is titled, simply, Bhutan. (Amazon link)