The Kingdom of Bhutan is known as the world’s happiest country and it’s easy to see why. The Bhutanese people live such a happy life nestled away in one of the last great Himalayan kingdoms.
I always try to find happiness when I travel and so I had to visit this country and see for myself if Bhutan really was the world’s happiest country.
Going into this trip, I knew Nepal quite well. I went there nine times before believe it or not! Bhutan seemed similar to Nepal but without the pollution and tonnes of cement. At first glance Bhutan was everything I had dreamed of – a truly magical and mystical destination.
At that time I was working as a Bank Manager and I started to realise that I was unhappy. I was in a situation with no relationship, no kids and no pets. So, I decided to quit my job and pursue my real, true happiness.
I felt like a new person when I started to travel. I understood that only amazing travel journeys could give me the chance of being happy once again in my life. It was a dream to aspire to and the chance to look for truth. I quit my job and started the project: www.triptherapy.net.
This blog with photos and videos showcased my solo adventures around the world. I travelled for 1000 days without taking any flights. It all started six years ago. After the initial success of my website and social media pages, I started to earn enough income to support my travels.
The idea was to create a video blog where I could show people how to travel on a shoestring for long periods of time. Showing people that saving money and then travelling for a few years is possible.
I also started to focus on diabetes content since I have suffered from this difficult disease since I was nine years old.
Setting off on a solo round the world journey with no flights was a huge undertaking. The biggest challenge along the way was probably the Santiago pilgrimage from Italy with a long vow of silence. I walked for a staggering 2189 kilometres in 72 days without saying a word!
Nine Days in Bhutan: The World’s Happiest Country
I recently spent nine days and eight nights in Bhutan, the world’s happiest country. My time was split between Paro, Thimphu, Punhaka, Bumthang, Wangdue Phodrang and of course Paro Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest).
It was just me and one of my company buddies travelling through Bhutan together. We own an Italian tour operator so we came here with the purpose of offering group tours to the country. I particularly enjoyed the area of Bumthang – it was so nice!
Many people who visit Bhutan fall in love with Tiger’s Nest – and it is an incredible place – but Bumthang was just something else for me. This region is considered to be the religious heartland of Bhutan since it’s home to some of the oldest Buddhist temples and monasteries.
Bumthang also consists of four main valleys: Ura, Chumey, Tang and Choekhor. The largest of the four valleys is Choekhor and is carved by ancient glaciers – offering wide and scenic views. The area is lush and fertile home to many orchards, dairy farms and rice fields.
Visiting the Impressive Tiger’s Nest Monastery
Tiger’s Nest or Paro Taktsang has to be included as one of the wonders of the world. It’s one of the most beautiful and magical places on earth!
You have to see it at least once in your life. The ancient Buddhist monastery clings to the side of a cliff with views through the Himalayas as far as the eye can see. It’s one of 13 small monasteries where the Buddhist master Padmasambhava is known to have meditated in the 8th century.
Monks stay for months on end here after making long pilgrimages to their favourite holy site. Your pilgrimage to Tiger’s Nest won’t be as long as it only takes around 3 or 4 hours to reach the monastery from the city of Paro.
Although, it’s still a decent trek of 10km with an incline of around 3000 feet. There’s also the option of taking a mule up to Tiger’s Nest for about $20.
The hike up is made significantly easier and more enjoyable due to the amazing views on offer. Tibetan Buddhist paraphernalia mixes seamlessly with the incredible mountainous landscapes.
Everything from shrines, stupas and prayer flags greet you at every turn. It’s also a misty land which adds to the magical feel of the experience.
Once you get a glimpse of Tiger’s Nest on the hike up you’ll realise just how special this place is. Visitors can enter Paro Taktsang and climb the several levels which house three spectacular temples.
Of course, you should remove your shoes, backpack and photography equipment before entering to pay your respects to this enchanting wonder of the world.
The Best Cultural Experiences in Bhutan
My number one recommendation for Bhutan is to take a hot stone bath. It’s an authentic way to connect with mother nature in the Himalayas.
The bath is traditionally made of wood and is constructed on the ground level of a home near a riverbed with plenty of stones and water.
In Bhutanese culture, hot stone baths are all day events with people taking turns bathing. This experience is considered to have positive healing powers for the mind, body and spirit.
Food in Bhutan is another highlight. I loved the veggie dishes which were so fresh and tasty! Of course, the cuisine was super spicy but I loved it.
Finally, meeting the people of Bhutan has to be one of the most amazing experiences anywhere in the world. They are so incredibly nice and warm.
I always felt at home with the Bhutanese people and they never treated me like a stranger. The best thing is their incredible smile. No wonder Bhutan is known as the world’s happiest country!
Tips for your Visit to Bhutan: The World’s Happiest Country
Then there is the roughly $250 per day visa fee which includes your hotel, transport and guides. This fee helps the Bhutanese people protect their culture and keep tourism on a sustainable economic path.
I recommend saving as much money as possible and extending your stay in Bhutan for as long as you can! Next time I visit I would like to try some more trekking as well as attending a few of their festivals. Also, rafting could be a good option on my next visit.
It doesn’t matter if you want to do a solo trip or group tour to Bhutan because the cost is basically the same. I will be launching an itinerary and tour for Bhutan next April which will also include Nepal. Keep an eye out on my website – www.triptherapy.net – for more information.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my experiences in the beautiful Bhutan: the world’s happiest country.