Yes Theory’s visit to the kingdom may have raised some questions…
1. Where Is Bhutan?
Located within the eastern Himalayas, Bhutan is bordered by India to the south and Tibet (China) to the northern side. It has several mountain passes that connect China to India. It is made up of an area of 38,394 square kilometers and the capital is Thimphu. It is predominantly made up of mountain terrain, hence the popular attraction of trekking tours. Woodlands make up about 70% of the ground cover, helping the country to lay claim to its carbon negative status.
2. How Can I Travel to Bhutan?
While not very evident in the video, there is a bit of a process to go through before you can travel to the country. The Royal Government of Bhutan has placed a mandate on tourists that requires them to buy a tour package to visit the country. No independent traveling is allowed and you can only process your visa through a local tour operator registered by the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB). This allows the government to better control the flow of tourists into the country and limit any negative influence that would come with a mass influx of foreign visitors.
You can look up available tour operators online and cross-check that they are registered, as we are, on the official TCB website. As seen in the video, you will be assigned a guide and driver who will follow the itinerary so you get to visit all the places planned for. You are however not strictly bound to this plan. You may opt to explore other permitted places with your guide and driver on hand to help along the way.
3. When and Where Should I Visit?
While one can visit Bhutan all year round, many choose this destination for its natural outdoor attractions making it ideal to consider weather patterns. The spring season is particularly popular thanks to the blooming of flowers, festivals, and ideal weather for trekking. Spring and autumn are also ideal for trekking and an excellent opportunity to partake in the mushroom picking season. Cool autumn is great for enjoying clear views of the Himalayas and the beautiful architecture of the stunning monasteries and temples. Though sometimes snowy, winter can also be a good time to visit the main valleys in the lower regions and enjoy the Punakha and Trongsa festivals. You can choose your tour package along your main line of interest, be it culture, trekking, festivals, or bird watching. There is much to enjoy so try to take in a bit of everything whenever you choose to visit.
4. What Clothing Should I Carry?
You may have noticed Thomas mention some rules when it comes to attire, particularly when visiting the Tigers Nest. Being the ‘Kingdom in the Clouds’, it is often chilly, even on summer nights. Be sure to pack comfortable warm clothing that you can add on or shed in layers depending on conditions. Modesty is key with men expected to wear long pants and women the same or long skirts when visiting religious sites. Your shoulders should also be covered. Also note that you may be required to remove your shoes, sunglasses, and hats to enter some temples. Shorts can be worn on treks.
5. How Do I Appreciate My Guide at The End of My Trip?
The Yes Theory’s video does a great job of sharing something of the Bhutanese culture including the rich tradition of gift-giving, not filming the interior of temples, and the curious wall paintings. It also shows the innate friendliness of guides who work hard to ensure visitors to the country get to fully immerse themselves in the local culture and enjoy their stay to the maximum. Because having a guide is mandatory and the long period that will be spent together, it is not surprising that many visitors would like to offer a farewell gift that acknowledges their appreciation of this care. We recommend that you opt to simply tip your guide according to your personal desire. Tipping is certainly not compulsory nor expected. It can, however, be a good way to show your appreciation and help your guide save up for the low seasons when there are fewer visitors.