The Last Shangri la

The picture in the ads you’ll see in the back of travel magazines for Bhutan is always of the” Tiger’s Nest” Monastery.  Tucked in the Himalayas, this developing nation only gets about 50,000 visitors a year and it was the October destination for the Travel Queen.


Bhutan's Tiger's Nest

The first thing to strike us was the natural beauty.  Staggeringly high mountains thick with untouched forests dotted with terraced rice fields.  Glacier cold, clear rivers and streams crossed by simple bridges decorated with hundreds of prayer flags.



Access to Bhutan is only through organized, all-inclusive tours.  Group sizes range from 1 to about 20.  

This is not a country where you could successfully explore on your own.  There is only 1 airline, Drukair, the national airline which has only 4 planes in their fleet.  There are no rental car counters – your tour will include a vehicle and driver.  Good thing because there are NO stoplights in the country and street signs or highway markers are rare.  The roads are also narrow, winding and not in the best of conditions.


Hotel accommodations are clean and simple – think National Park lodging in the US but with poorer quality workmanship.  Plumbing is Western so there are regular flush toilets and showers in all.  Just don’t be surprised if the plumbing leaks or the electrical is hinky.  The beds are ROCK HARD, so much so that we took the comforter, folded it and put it under the sheet in an effort to add some cushion. 

The government mandated that by the end of 2012 all hotels must have Wi-Fi.  Usually it’s only in the lobby and even then, service is hit or miss.  I had a peek inside the wiring closet of one of the hotels and suffice it to say, it wasn’t close to any US standard. 

Most meals will be at your hotel and buffet style.  Typically 5 items with rice being 1 of them.  The food is at best “uninspired”.  I brought my own peanut butter and was the envy of our group.


But Bhutan is not about luxury hotels (there are only a couple), great spas or fabulous cuisine.  Its about the natural beauty which it has in abundance.  Next week I’ll cover the hikes and help you select the amount of activity that’s right for you.


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