Best Time To Visit Bhutan

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10 Reasons Why Everyone Is Travelling To Bhutan?

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top 10 places to visit in Bhutan

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Bumthang Owl Trek

Maithili, Orissa India

My trip would not have been this beautiful and I could not have been able to experience Bhutan in its true sense and beauty without GET INTO BHUTAN tours! Thank you for making my time here sincerely a life changing and making me want to come back for more of Bhutan :). You helped me experience the warmth that Bhutan has to offer especially the people and the beauty the natural landscape fills my heart with. I would like to thank you again for my best solo trip!

Bhutan – Land of peaceful country

The only country that supports a policy of ‘Gross National Happiness’.

Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness (GNH)

The phrase ‘gross national happiness’ was first coined by the 4th King of Bhutan, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, in 1972 when he declared, “Gross National Happiness is more important than Gross Domestic Product.” The concept implies that sustainable development should take a holistic approach towards notions of progress and give equal importance to non-economic aspects of wellbeing.

Since then the idea of Gross National Happiness (GNH) has influenced Bhutan’s economic and social policy, and also captured the imagination of others far beyond its borders. In creating the Gross National Happiness Index, Bhutan sought to create a measurement tool that would be useful for policymaking and create policy incentives for the government, NGOs and businesses of Bhutan to increase GNH.

The GNH Index includes both traditional areas of socio-economic concern such as living standards, health and education and less traditional aspects of culture and psychological wellbeing. It is a holistic reflection of the general wellbeing of the Bhutanese population rather than a subjective psychological ranking of ‘happiness’ alone.

The GNH Index includes nine domains

  1. Psychological wellbeing
  2. Health
  3. Education
  4. Time use
  5. Cultural diversity and resilience
  6. Good governance
  7. Community vitality
  8. Ecological diversity and resilience
  9. Living standards

The GNH Index is decomposable by any demographic characteristic, meaning it can be broken down by population group, for example, to show the composition of GNH among men and among women, or by district, and by dimension, for example to show which group is lacking in education. The indicators and domains aim to emphasize different aspects of wellbeing, and different ways of meeting underlying human needs.

The Government of Bhutan’s Centre for Bhutan Studies revised and released an updated GNH index in 2011. There are 33 indicators in the 9 domains above and the Index seeks to measure the nation’s wellbeing directly by starting with each person’s achievements in each indicator. It identifies four groups of people – unhappy, narrowly happy, extensively happy, and deeply happy. The analysis explores the happiness people enjoy already, then focuses on how policies can increase happiness and sufficiency among the unhappy and narrowly happy people.

Composition of the GNH Index

The Gross National Happiness Index is a single number index developed from the 33 indicators categorized under nine domains.

The concept of GNH has often been explained by its four pillars; good governance, sustainable socio-economic development, cultural preservation, and environmental conservation. The four pillars have been further classified into nine domains in order to create widespread understanding of GNH and to reflect the holistic range of GNH values.

The nine domains are equally weighted because each domain is considered to be equal in terms of its intrinsic importance as a component of GNH.

The 33 indicators are statistically reliable, are normatively important, and are easily understood by large audiences. Within each domain, two to four indicators were selected that seemed likely to remain informative across time, had high response rates, and were relatively uncorrelated. Within each domain, the objective indicators are given higher weights while the subjective and self-reported indicators are assigned far lighter weights. The 2011 GNH index identifies four groups of people. For policy purposes it identifies ‘happiness’ as comprising sufficient achievements in 66% of the weighted indicators, whichever domains they come from. This corresponds to the groups who are identified as ‘extensively’ and ‘deeply’ happy.

What kind of results does the GNH Index give?

People who have achieved sufficiency in less than 50% are ‘unhappy’, and they comprise 10.4% of the population. A total of 48.7% of people have sufficiency in 50-65% of domains and are called ‘narrowly happy’. A group of 32.6%, called ‘extensively happy’, has achieved sufficiency in 66-76% – in between 6 and 7 domains. And in the last group, 8.3% of people are identified as ‘deeply happy’ because they enjoy sufficiency in 77% or more of weighted indicators – which is the equivalent of 7 or more of the nine domains.

In order to have one overall index, the GNH cut off was set at 66% of the variables, which is the middle cutoff used above. People are considered happy when they have sufficiency in 66% of the (weighted) indicators or more – that is, when they were identified as extensively happy or deeply happy.  The GNH Index value for 2010 is 0.737. It shows us that 40.8% of people in Bhutan have achieved such happiness, and the remaining 59% – who are narrowly happy or unhappy – still enjoy sufficiency in 57% (not 66% as required by the index) of the domains on average.

Impact on policy

The GNH index supports policy-making within Bhutan. Policy selection tools are used to review the potential effects of proposed policies on GNH and the results of the GNH index will be tracked over time to evaluate interventions. This ‘GNH Policy Lens’ requires that the policy consequences on all relevant dimensions be considered prior to implementation. In addition, project screening tools are to be implemented in nearly twenty project areas, including agriculture, forestry, trade and manufacturing, media and information, youths, as well as projects that focus on each of the nine dimensions. The stated goal is that all government projects and policies work together to maximize GNH.

Relationship with other happiness measures

The GNH measure has been designed to fulfil various criteria which are needed for an official national measure of happiness that is also relevant to national and district policy. It aims to reflect the happiness and general wellbeing of the Bhutanese population more accurately and profoundly than a monetary measure.

A measure of Gross National Happiness might be presumed to comprise a single psychological question on happiness such as “Taking all things together, would you say you are: Very happy, rather happy, Not very happy, or Not at all happy.” However, this is not the case here. The objectives of Bhutan, and the Buddhist understandings of happiness, are much broader than those that are referred to as ‘happiness’ in the Western literature. Under the title of happiness in GNH comes a range of domains of human wellbeing including traditional areas of social concern such as living standards, health, and education, while some are less traditional, such as time use, psychological well being, culture, community vitality, and environmental diversity.

Traditional Arts and Crafts of Bhutan

In Bhutan, art remains an essential part of daily life that retains the purity and handcraft of ancient times that rarely manifests itself in Western Culture. Certainly, these practices evolve and adapt through the new generations, but at the same time it preserves the internal and external spirituality—full of the sacred beliefs of this mystic and mysterious land—of creating a work of art from the past. For the Bhutanese people, each piece they create represents a religious experience, a connection with something that goes beyond them and enlightens them creatively, and this is why the 13 Traditional Arts and Crafts, known as Zorig Chusum, have prevailed to this day and continue to be one of the most consequential aspects of Bhutanese culture.

The National Institute of Zorig Chusum, established in 1971, is located north of the city of Thimphu, and this is where the young learn every aspect of the portrayal of spiritual values in each of the crafts that embody the ordinary transformed into something sublime. The institute is open to the public; it is possible to wander through the charming corridors, enter the classrooms to observe and talk to the students, interact with them while they work—learn from them, definitely. It offers visitors the opportunity to be part of this cultural tradition where art and religion are so intrinsically linked.

The 13 Arts are rooted in Buddhism. They are believed to have been introduced by Pema Lingpa in the 15th century and categorized in the 17th century by Tenzin Rabgye, the 4th Druk Desi—the title given to rulers; it means “thunder dragon” in reference to Bhutan. Each work of art contains the same principles, symbolisms and ideologies that make this practice so ancestral, but the artist inevitably leaves a print of their own style, which contributes to the uniqueness of the piece. However, one important aspect of Bhutanese art is that it is always anonymous. If a work of art bears a name, it is usually the name of the person who commissioned it, not the artist’s, because the importance of the craft lies in the craft itself, not in those who produce it. Art speaks for itself, the same as each representation of belief and value. Thus, these objects decorate every home, temple, and street. The ornaments are used every day as simple, yet beautiful tools. Colors permeate every aspect of the paintings, woodwork, sculptures, and embroideries that depict deities, sacred animals and other relevant imagery. These are some of the most important arts and crafts in Bhutan:


Lha-zo – Bhutanese paintings are the portrayal of human beings and their interaction with nature and their beliefs. The colors of this craft can be appreciated in flags, tools, murals, frescoes, canvases, fabric, paper, wood, stone and much more.

Paintings often are the visual reflection of the inner self; thus, they depict spirituality, the significance of Buddhism, happiness and all things that are sacred to them and that proudly represent Bhutanese identity. Old paintings are considered sacred and are preserved for their cultural value.


Jim-zo – Sculpture on clay is more ancient than sculpture on metals like bronze. These sculptures are characterized for their beauty and delicacy, hollow on the inside but full of meaning on the outside, portraying enthralling beings or landscapes. Sculpting in clay is a male craft, but pottery is reserved for women, and they both carry great significance. Pottery is still an active craft that evolved, but still follows the ancient process of shaping and baking the clay. Sculptures are typically found in temples, monasteries and Dzongs, while pottery is still wildly used in everyday life.


De-zo – The origins of papermaking are deeply rooted in Bhutan and many sacred scripts have been written on this paper. It is beautifully elegant and practical, elaborated with extensive care to be extremely resistant, since it is termite and insect repellent. This craft used to be specifically monastic; nowadays, all kinds of paper are available in the market, but people continue to use Dezho paper, made out of the Daphne and Edgeworthia plants, for special occasions.


Lug-zo– The art of casting was first introduced in Bhutan in the 17th century by Nepalese artisans. It ranges from the creation of kitchen utensils, pinnacles and statues, to musical instruments, pottery, tools and ornaments. 

Casting involves a complex process that requires a lot of skill and masterfulness in the two techniques that are practiced: wax and sand casting. Gyalsey Tenzin Rabgye, 13th Je Khenpo (a religious authority) of Bhutan, mastered wax casting, and crafted 1,000 Buddha, including the main Buddha at the Punakha Dzong.


Shing-zo – Woodwork is the skeleton of Bhutan. A lot of care and skill goes into the construction of every building, bridge, temple, institute, palace, and Dzong. The master carpenters, known as Zow chen, are the architects of the country, and they excel in creating true masterpieces. Dzongs that were built in the 17th century are vastly appreciated for the detail in their design and structure. A key example of a beautifully built wood structure is the Punakha Dzong.


Do-zo – Masons work closely with the carpenters with a different kind of artistry and sophistication that complement each other. Every structure is built by a combination of wood and stone. Stone is used in Dzongs, courtyards, walls houses, bridges, and Chortens, which are meant to keep religious relics inside. The senior master-mason, zope in Bhutanese, is the one who supervises the construction of stone structures and the preparation of the traditional and durable mortar that has been passed down generation to generation. One example of a prominent stone structure in Bhutan is the Chorten Kora in Trashiyangtse.


Par-zo – Once the structures are standing, the carver takes over with extraordinary precision to engrave from wood and slate to stone and paper. Mantras, deities and cultural motifs are carved into traditional masks, phalluses used in religious festivals, windows, doors and every other possible surface. Wood is the most important form of carving, due to Bhutan’s rich variety of woods. Various schools of Tibetan Buddhism introduced it in the 13th century.

The rest of the arts and crafts include wood turning (Shag-zo), blacksmithing (Gar-zo), gold- and silversmithing (Troe-ko), bamboo work (Tsha-zo), tailoring, embroidering and appliqué (Tshem-zo), and weaving (Thag-zo). Each one of these arts and crafts has great cultural and historic value, and Bhutan continues to preserve them with dedication and respect.


Nowhere in the Himalayas is the natural environment more rich and diverse than it is in Bhutan. One of Bhutan’s ancient names was Menjong Yul, meaning ‘the land of Medicinal Herbs’ and so rightfully. Even today, natural environment is mostly in undisturbed and pristine form. The ecosystem in Bhutan is diverse, because of its location, great geographical and climatic variations. Bhutan’s high, rugged mountains and deep valleys are rich with spectacular biodiversity, making one of the world’s ten most important biodiversity ‘hotspots’. For centuries, Bhutanese have treasured the natural environment and have looked upon it as the source of all life. This traditional reverence for nature has delivered Bhutan into the 21st century with an environment still richly intact. The country wishes to continue living in harmony with nature and to pass on this rich heritage to its future generations.

Knowing the importance of the natural environment, Royal Government of Bhutan takes its conservations at the heart of its development strategy. Royal Government of Bhutan has also committed in maintaining more than 70 percent forest cover for all time to come. Currently the total land under forest cover is 72.5 percent and more than 26 percent of the land is under the protected areas, comprising of four national parks and about 9 percent of the land fall under biological corridors so that the wild life sanctuaries and nature reserves connect protected areas.

Fortunately for Bhutan, maintaining a balanced natural ecosystem remains the central theme of its development process. The country’s development policies disregard sacrificing its natural resource base for short-term economic gains and are consistent with the central tenets of sustainable development, environmental conservation and cultural values.

In 1998, Bhutan was identified by Norman Myers as one of the ten bio-diversity hot spots in the world. It has been identified as the centre of 221 global endemic bird areas. The country signed the Convention on Biological Diversity and United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. These conventions were ratified in 1995 at the 73rd session of the National Assembly. The Royal Government of Bhutan has also made a national commitment to uphold its obligation to future generations by charting a path of development called the “Middle Path” – this is the development, which upholds both environmental and cultural preservation as an integral part of the development process.

National Parks

Royal Manas National Park

This 1,023 sq km park in south central Bhutan adjoins the Black Mountain National Park to the north and India’s Manas National Park and Manas Tiger reserve to the south. It was initially established as a reserve game park. It is home of rhinoceros, buffalo, tiger, leopard, gaur, bear, elephant, wild dog, pygmy hog, hispid hare and several species of deer. Plans for opening Manas National park for tourists in underway.

Black Mountain National Park

Black mountain Park is renamed as Jigme Singye Wangchuk National Park. This area of 1,723 sq km protects the range of mountains that separate eastern and western Bhutan. Its plant life includes wide range of broadleaf species, conifers and alpine pastures. Animal life includes tiger, Himalayan black bear, leopard, red panda, goral, serow, sambar, wild pig and golden langur. The Phobjikha valley (Gangtey), which is the wintering ground for black-necked crane falls within this protected park.

Thrumshing la National Park

The 768 sq km Thrumshing la National Park lies between Bumthang and Mongar and protects temperate forests of fir and chir pine. It is known for its scenic views, dense forests and alpine meadows. Presence of threatened species viz. rufous necked hornbill, Satyra tragopan, Ward’s trogon, chestnut breasted partridge is a noteworthy feature of this reserve. A small area (22hectres) near the Thrumsingla pass (highest motor able pass in Bhutan), has a natural garden established to showcase Bhutan’s rhododendron diversity in their natural habitat. Out of 46 known species of rhododendrons in Bhutan four—R. kesangiae, R. pogonophyllum, R. bhutanense and R. flinckii—are endemic to the kingdom.

Kulong Chhu Wildlife Sanctuary

This reserve with an area of 1, 300 sq km is a large area of alpine tundra. The sanctuary protects the sambar and adjoins the Bomdeling conservation area, which is an important roosting place of black-necked cranes.

Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary

This is in the easternmost part of the country protecting 650 sq km temperate forests of eastern blue pine and rhododendron. This sanctuary is rumored for sighting yeti, yes the legendary abominable snowman.

Khaling Wildlife Sanctuary

Situated in far southeastern Bhutan with an area of 273 sq km this sanctuary protects wild elephant, gaur, pygmy hog, hispid hare and other tropical wildlife.

Toorsa Nature Reserve

Located in western part of the Ha district where Toorsa river enters from Tibet. This 644 sq km reserve was established to protect the temperate forests of far west Bhutan. Phipsoo Wildlife Sanctuary.

The smallest, with 278 sq km area in southern border with India, around 50km east of Phuentsholing, protects sal forests of the country. Several protected species thrive in the sanctuary including axis deer, chital, elephant, gaur, tiger, golden langur and hornbill.