Known as the ‘Land of the Thunder Dragon,’ the Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan is a fantastical journey in a forgotten and mystical Himalayan land. Never colonized, the culture and customs of this tiny Asian country are impeccably preserved in its architecture, clothing, food, and dance traditions, making any trip through Bhutan an eye-opening one. Despite lacking in infrastructure, such as a national railroad network, and being listed as one of the UN’s Least Developed Countries, Bhutan is South Asia’s least corrupt, most peaceful, and most economically free country, and was the founding nation of the Gross National Happiness development philosophy.
Cycling through Bhutan is an absolute adventure as the country contains a wild landscape embedded in the Himalayan mountains. The country is still home to bengal tigers, clouded leopards, Himalayan black bears, red pandas, and various langur monkeys, among many rare species. You are never far from nature in Bhutan as you make your way from the only international airport in Paro through the heartland of the country. The capital of Thimpu is a laid-back city that sets the tone for the rest of the relaxed country.
The country imposes a mandatory $250 USD per day tariff during the high season (March, April, May, September, October, and November) on all visitors to the country, excluding those from India, Bangladesh, and the Maldives, and a $200 per day tariff in the off season (January, February, June, July, August, and December), which gives you a room in a state-run hotel, all your meals, all internal transportation, and a guide for your time in the country. This fee also covers their universal health care, education and poverty alleviation, and is the key financial driver for new infrastructure projects. If you’re looking to explore well off the beaten path in a safe, friendly, and clean country, there is no other like Bhutan.