The World has few secrets left but Bhutan is one of them â€“ Kartie Hickman (AUTHOR)
A peaceful, isolated land nestled in the cradle of the Himalayas, Bhutan may not be greatly developed or progressive from a modern point of view, yet it scores high on the happiness quotient. In 2006 Business Week rated Bhutan the eighth happiest country in the world. It's worth visiting Bhutan just to find out why!
Bhutan's scenery is magnificent. Its location in the mighty Himalayas has protected it from the rest of the world and left it blissfully untouched through the centuries. The Drukpa Kagyupa school of Mahayana Buddhism is prevalent and has left the country with a rich culture and a fascinating history. The Bhutanese people have protected this sacred heritage and unique identity for centuries by choosing to remain shrouded in a jealously guarded isolation.
Pristine surrounds, dramatic fort like monasteries hang over precipitous drops, often wreathed in mist, and fertile valleys, high rugged mountain passes - all of which make Bhutan a varied and exhilarating destination.
It is also a country of surprises. This is not just a nation of saintly, other-worldly hermits. Bhutan is straddling the ancient and modern world and these days you'll find monks transcribing ancient Buddhist texts into computers as traditionally dressed noblemen chat on their mobile phones.
Tourist attractions include the fertile Paro Valley, which houses some of the most exquisite monasteries and temples. Bumthang Valley is the religious hub of the nation while Tongsa showcases the most spectacular landscapes. Bhutan is a true explorer's delight, a world that could have been lifted straight from the pages of a picture book. It would be well worth your while to bookmark a visit to this pristine wonder.
The kingdom is peopled sparsely, with a population approaching 552,996. Four main linguistic groups constitute Bhutanâ€™s population: the Sharchopas, who are held to be indigenous inhabitants, the Bumthangpas and the Ngalongpas who originate in neighboring Tibet, and the Lhotshampas, recent immigrants of Nepalese origin.
Opened for tourism in 1974, after the coronation of the fourth King, His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, Bhutan is perhaps the worldâ€™s most exclusive tourist destination. The country still retains all the charm of the old world, and travelers experience the full glory of this ancient land as embodied in the monastic fortresses, ancient temples, monasteries and stupas which dot the countryside, prayer flags fluttering above farmhouses and on the hillsides, lush forests, rushing glacial rivers, and â€“ perhaps most important of all â€“ the warm smiles and genuine friendliness of the people. Each moment is special as one discovers a country, which its people have chosen to preserve in all its magical purity.
Why Bhutan as an M.I.C.E. destination:
-Pristine surrounds, dramatic fort like monasteries, fertile valleys, high rugged mountain passes - all of which make Bhutan a varied and exhilarating destination
-Culture and adventure destination with amazing landscapes and views
-Superb hotels: Aman Hotels have 5 lodges in 5 exclusive locations, Uma Paro & Taj Tashi in Thimpu
-Access via India, Nepal & Thailand
-The last place on the Roof of the World
-Bhutan is right there on the list of '50-places-to-visit-before-I-die'.