Wondering where to travel next year? The best destinations to travel have finally been revealed in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2020 on October 22.
Bhutan has been chosen as the number one country to visit in 2020. Lonely Planet granted the title to this tiny Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan based on its rich culture and tradition, as well as its pristine natural environment.
Adding to its charm is the unique concept of Gross National Happiness (GNH), where Bhutan is the only country in the world that measures success in terms of ‘happiness’ and not just by economic growth or GDP.
The recommendation was made by visitors across the world and the online editors of the Lonely Planet group.
“Bhutan really taps into one of the themes of this year’s Best in Travel, which is the growing awareness in sustainability and in looking after the things that make our world so beautiful, Bhutan is playing a leading role in that,” said Tom Hall, Vice-President of experience at Lonely Planet.
LONELY PLANET'S BEST TRAVEL DESTINATIONS FOR 2020:
Top 10 Countries:
The Druk Wangyel Tshechu is a unique festival performed by the Royal Bhutan Army rather than monks or lay people. It is simply known as the Dochula Tsechu among locals. Dochula festival is usually held around mid December at Dochula, which is a mountain pass at an elevation of over 3000 meters or 10,000 feet.
Dochula festival is a tribute to the wise leadership of His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the Fourth King of Bhutan. It also celebrates the continuous efforts of the Royal Bhutan Army in protecting the sovereignty and the stability of the country. This one of a kind tshechu is performed against the backdrop of the magnificent Jigme Singye Wangchuck mountain range.
Bhutan Mindful Travels offer custom made trips for those wishing to experience the Dochula festival in Bhutan.
What is the Royal Highlander Festival?
The Royal Highlander Festival is an annual celebration of nomadic highlander traditions held every fall in picturesque Laya, Bhutan. The festival is a once-in-a-lifetime, unique opportunity for visitors to Bhutan, as well as Bhutanese, to experience the highland way of life.
Organized by the Gasa District, the festival will see participation of the highland communities living along the famous Snowman Trek.
The festival brings together highlanders from other parts of Bhutan to exchange values, knowledge, skills and best practices related to highlands and yak farming.
The event will be a photographer's dream and explorer's heaven , set in the breathtaking backdrop of Laya, which is at an altitude of 4,000m.
It is a chance to experience a different world, of yak-hair tents and ancient epic-poem recitations, away from the beeping, whirring, processed noise of technology.
Bhutan Mindful Travels offer tours to the Royal Highland Festival. Please contact us if you would like to experience the Royal Highlander Festival in Bhutan first hand.
The Tshechu is a religious event celebrated on tenth day of a month of the lunar calendar corresponding to the birthday of Guru Rimpoche (Guru Padmasambhava). However the exact month of the Tshechu varies from place to place and temple to temple.
Tshechus are grand events where entire communities come together to witness religious mask dances, receive blessings and socialize. In addition to the mask dances, tshechus also include colorful Bhutanese dances and other forms of entertainment.
It is believed that everyone must attend a Tshechu and witness the mask dances at least once to in order to receive blessings and wash away their sins. Every mask dance performed during a Tshechu has a special meaning or a story behind it and many are based on stories and incidents from as long ago as the 8th century, during the life of Guru Padmasambhava. In monasteries, the mask dances are performed by monks and in remote villages, they are performed jointly by monks and village men.
Two of the most popular Tshechus in the country are the Paro and Thimphu Tshechus in terms of participation and audience. Besides the locals, many tourists from across the world are attracted to these unique, colorful and exciting displays of traditional culture.
Please contact us if you are interested to see Bhutanese festivals.
Please find the tentative 2019 Bhutan festival dates below.
The rich culture, unspoiled environment, and fresh mountain air make it very worthwhile to visit Bhutan. The number people visiting Bhutan is increasing every year, reflective of growing interest in the country as a tourism destination. Here's what you need to know before planning a trip to Bhutan.
With the exception of passport holders from India, Bangladesh and the Maldives, all tourists must travel on a preplanned, prepaid and guided package tour through a local tour operator like us.
Getting a Visa
Everyone traveling to Bhutan requires to obtain a visa in advance, except for passport holders from India, Bangladesh and the Maldives. Passport holders from these three countries can obtain a free Entry Permit on arrival, upon producing their passport with a minimum six months validity. Indian nationals can also use their Voters Identity Card.
For other passport holders, visa fee is $40. The visa must be applied and paid for in advance, from a registered local tour operator like us at the same time as booking the rest of your trip. You should try and make your travel arrangements at least 90 days prior to travel to allow time for all the formalities to be completed. For last minute booking, please contact us.
The visas are processed through an online system, and are approved by the Tourism Council of Bhutan once full payment of the trip has been received. Tourists are issued with a visa clearance letter, to be presented at immigration upon arrival at the airport. The visa is then stamped in the passport on arrival in Bhutan.
Getting to Bhutan
The only international airport in Bhutan is located at Paro. Currently, two airlines operate flights to Bhutan: Drukair and Bhutan Airlines. Departure points include Bangkok (Thailand), Kathmandu (Nepal), New Delhi and Kolkata (India), Dhaka (Bangladesh) and Singapore.
It's also possible to travel to Bhutan from India overland by road. The main border crossing is Jaigon-Phuentsholing. There are two others, at Gelephu and Samdrup Jongkhar.
The tariff in Bhutan is set by the government, to control tourism and protect the environment, and can't be negotiated. The price includes all accommodations, meals, transportation, guides and porters, and cultural programs. The tariff also includes the sustainable development fee (35%), which goes towards free education, free healthcare, and poverty alleviation in Bhutan.
The tariff varies according to the season and number of tourists in the group.
High Season: March, April, May, September, October, and November
$250 per person per day, for a group of three or more people.
$280 per person per day, for a group of two people.
$290 per day for single individuals.
Low Season: January, February, June, July, August, and December
$200 per person per day, for a group of three or more people.
$230 per person per day, for a group of two people.
$240 per day for single individuals.
Discounts are available for children and students.
ATM service is available in Bhutan, and credit cards are not widely accepted. The Bhutanese currency is called Ngultrum and its value is linked to the Indian Rupee. With the exception of 500 and 2,000 rupees notes, the Indian Rupee can be used as legal tender. Banks and hotels offer foreign exchange service.
Please contact us if you have any further questions or concerns.