Travel Guide 2022
Bhutan at a glance
|Neighboring countries||People’s Republic of China und India|
Guide to Bhutan
For generations, it has been Tibetan-style Buddhism that has defined the lives of the people of Bhutan. In one of the poorest countries on the Asian continent, Je Khenpo is the highest abbot in the country and his authority extends to the king’s palace. The regent always consults the head of Buddhism when making decisions. In 1952, the country cautiously opened itself to a process of reform, ending the serfdom practiced until then, convening a national assembly for the first time, and becoming a member of the United Nations. With its new constitution, Bhutan declared itself a constitutional monarchy, following the example of the British.
But for all the efforts to modernize the lives of the people, one thing remained: A belief in the infallibility of religion and the need to maintain centuries-old traditions. Thus, television was introduced very late in Bhutan, and holidaymakers were not allowed into the country until 1974. Quite deliberately, Bhutan chose a different path from its neighbour Nepal, where mass tourism started early and a run on the majestic peaks of the Himalayas began. Unlike Nepal, it is strictly forbidden to climb mountains in Bhutan. According to the authorities, this is forbidden by religion. The happiness of its inhabitants – there are about 53 million of them – has always been close to the hearts of the state representatives and was already enshrined in a kind of constitution in the 19th century. The historic text read, “If the government cannot produce happiness for its people, then there is no reason for the government to exist…”
Bhutan is a kingdom in the clouds, secluded from the rest of the world, but the subjects of the regent actually seem happy. Tourists are limited to five thousand a year. The government only allows foreigners to stay in Bhutan if they have pre-planned and paid for the tour. There is a per diem fee that covers the cost of the guide, transfers, accommodation and food. A trip to Bhutan offers treks along narrow paths, to remote monasteries nestled on steep cliffs and to a unique culture.