As the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge make a brief stop in Bhutan on their state visit to the area, suddenly everyone’s wondering where is Bhutan? Is it the new must-visit holiday destination?
Here’s my mini guide, compiled as from research for a feature I wrote about visiting India and Bhutan for Woman. The Bhutan bit was dropped from the published piece for reasons of space.
10 things you didn’t know about Bhutan
• Bhutan is in the Himalayas, bordering India and China.
• The kingdom of Bhutan was closed to mass tourism until 1974.
• Annual visitors number over 50,000 (compared with India’s 20 million).
• To minimise the impact of tourism, the Bhutanese government insists on pre-planned, prepaid, guided package tours, at a minimum cost of $200 a day, some of which funds free education, healthcare and poverty alleviation.
• Bhutanese people wear national costume. For men, that’s a knee-length robe called a gho. Women wear an ankle-length dress, called a kira, with layered jackets.
• Scarf colour worn by men signifies status. Yellow is for the king; white for ‘commoners’.
• Designer Christian Louboutin is a friend of Queen Jetsun Pema, and utilised the country’s strong craft heritage when he had Bhutanese monks carving wooden-soled shoes
• The country has 13 traditional crafts including fabric weaving, bamboo weaving and iron chain-making.
• TV was banned until 1999.
• Gross National Happiness is used as a measure of economic success.
Want to go?
Responsible Travel has an 11-day group tour from £2,049pp excluding flights. Trailfinders Trailfinders‘ seven-night Highlights of Bhutan tour costs from £1,960pp, plus flights from £480. Audley Travel offers an 11-day Highlights of Bhutan tour from £3,210.